Eating out…outside that is

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Eating out…outside that is

…No, not in a restaurant. Outside! What a better way to celebrate this wonderful spring weather than a picnic. Okay, so you’re not the picnicking type. Well, things have changed since the days of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, warm salads, and scratchy blankets. There are lots of things that come in portable packets, new food items and ideas for eating outdoors. It is also easier to pack accessories—portable chairs, tables, etc.—to be comfortable and even stylish!

We all know that when you go out to dinner, you cannot completely control how your food is prepared and what is added to it. And eating at home night after night (especially at this time of year) gets monotonous. So, take a stroll through the grocery store with portability on your mind. Easy-to-eat is also a consideration. Finger food, or something that does not need to be spread on, sliced or cut, is a great option for a picnic.

For Starters:
Individual hummus containers
Pita stuffed sandwiches (add condiments later)
Black Bean Salsa
Homemade chips

Main Course:
Gazpacho in ball jars
Savory Muffins / mini-individual quiches, made-ahead, warmed up and put in aluminum foil
Greens tossed with (non-mayonnaise based) dressing. Mix when you eat
With Grilled chicken or shrimp. Grill ahead and cut into edible chunks

Sweet Endings:
Cake Pops. Big enough for your sweet tooth, but not too much.
Fruit kebabs with or without a health dipping sauce

Keeping Things Cold:

Put ice in a Ziploc baggie and put that in another baggie, just to be safe. It is pliable, fits in between items in the cooler, and can be used for drinks if you run out of ice. If you have a full cooler, put the Ziploc bag(s) in the cooler with the items to be kept cool, and fill the bag in there. That way you can put the bag in between items to keep them even colder. While not a fan of re-using plastic water bottles for drinking, if you refill and freeze a bottle, it makes a great form of ice for the cooler and when the picnic is over, the water has thawed and you can water the bushes near where you are and take the empties home for recycling. Your cooler will be much lighter!

Don’t forget: trash bags (and recycling bags), hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray, lighting (if you will be out late), napkins, plastic wrap, bottle opener, something to identify your spot is you are in a large group of picnickers, and extra everything if you could expect drop-ins.

Where to go? Parks and beaches are the logical choice, but you can also look for events like concerts, fireworks displays, etc. Check online at your State park web site, your Convention and Visitors Bureau, and in the local paper. Some events offer picnic and tailgating options.

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