Summer is almost here and it's the perfect season for picnics - whether you are heading out to a park, the beach, an outdoor concert, at a game, even your own backyard.
Picnics are not only a fun way to spend the day, but it's more frugal than eating at a restaurant. A good rule of thumb when packing your picnic basket - the easier to eat the better... like appetizers and finger foods. Drinks are of course essential to any summer picnic, make sure to bring plastic drink cups or glasses!
My friends and I went to the Hollywood Bowl this week to see a concert. Each couple brought food to nosh on and to share with others before and during the show. I wanted to make something that was easy to prepare and easy to pass around to share. The best way to save money is make most everything yourself at home.
Here are 10 essential tips and ideas of what to pack in your picnic basket. Watch out for Yogi Bear!!
PICNIC BASKET OR BAG - Depending on your preference, pack your goodies in either a basket or bag. Although I love the look of picnic baskets (especially vintage ones), I prefer an insulated bag to keep the drinks colder. Some people also use a big cooler or just recycled bags.
PICNIC SUPPLIES - Essential to any picnic basket whether you opt for paper or plastic goods are: plates, utensils, cups, napkins. Pick some up at your local dollar store or grocery warehouse store. Make sure to also bring a separate bag(s) for trash.
BLANKET - If you are heading out to the park or beach where they don't have picnic benches, make sure to bring a picnic blanket or tablecloth to spread out on the grass or sand. Bring an extra blanket if it's gets cooler to bundle up in. You may also bring pillows to sit on if you will be sitting on a hard surface, like we were at the Hollywood Bowl.
MINI SANDWICHES - You can make mini sandwiches with cold cuts and cheese. I used Kings Hawaiian Bread rolls (yum!) and ready made chicken salads from Trader Joe's. I used curry chicken salad and cranberry chicken salad inside the rolls. I brought these at the Bowl and they were a big hit with everyone. You can make 24 mini sandwiches for less than $15... very frugal.
FINGER FOODS - Easy to eat appetizers that you can pass around to the gang is key. Great examples of finger foods are: chicken poppers, cheese varieties, wraps, etc.. For a fancier option - how about sushi.
CHIPS AND DIP - A simple, frugal yet delicious dip to make is guacamole! All you need are avocados, lime and tomatoes. Or, you can opt for ready made inexpensive dips from stores like Trader Joe's. Pick up a bag (or two) of your favorite dipping chips too.
SALADS - Make the classic potato salad or macaroni salad. These are simple and inexpensive to make at home. Other easy salad options are pasta salads or herb salads (possibly picked from your herb garden).
DRINKS - Pack sodas, water and whatever favorite drink you like from a discount grocery or big box store. Several of us brought bottles of wine to the concert - just make sure you pack the bottles securely or in a separate wine cooler or bag - don't forget the corkscrew!
FRUITS - Pack easy to eat fruits like grapes, strawberries, bananas, cherries, blueberries or pre-cut fruits such as pineapple and the classic picnic fruit - watermelon.
DESSERT - Select easy to eat pick-up desserts such as cookies (I brought Snookies Cookies - yum!) and brownies or cupcakes.