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Tips for planning the perfect picnic

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Us Brits love a picnic. There’s something so satisfying about grabbing a rug, some food and drink and taking to the park to spend a relaxing afternoon outside in the sun. Or is it?

Yes, picnics are great – I’m a huge fan of doing just about everything outside – but crikey, they can be expensive. If you’ve ever searched online for picnic baskets, then you’ll know just how costly they can be. Even a basic one, that doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles, can set you back.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Picnics, by design, are supposed to be the less expensive way to spend a day in the great outdoors, and this post is going to help you do just that.

The essentials

If you’re completely sold on a wicker-style picnic basket, this set from Tesco is stylish and features a dining set for four people. At just £30, it’s a real bargain when you consider just how expensive some of the alternatives can be.

The more active among you likely won’t want to lug a wicker basket around. So if your picnic forms part of a fairly active day, then I would suggest a picnic rucksack. Some of these come complete with a dining set, should you so fancy, and are by far the most convenient option. Again, the best ranges I found were available from Tesco.

If these options are pushing your budget, opt for either plastic dishes or paper plates, and use a sturdy supermarket ‘bag for life’ to carry your items. The bag will cost you less than £1 from your local supermarket and the rectangular shape and strength of the bag lends itself perfectly to keeping your picnic safe.

The beauty of paper plates and plastic cups is you’ll normally need to buy them in bulk, which means you’ll have plenty left over for your next picnic. It’s also worth checking out Flying Tiger for budget plastic plates and cups, which can be washed and used again, although you can’t buy from their website, so you will need to visit a store in person.

Food and drink

Now let’s get on to the main event; the food and drink. The last thing you want is to roll out your rug, dive into your basket and find that something has leaked. It’s not a good way to start. That’s why Tupperware is your friend. Put everything you can in an airtight dish to prevent leakages.

Picnic food is one of my favourite things. Our picnic basket is always full of finger food, which I tend to put in the middle of the rug and allow everyone to help themselves. No need for plates if you don’t want to. I always cook a pizza in the morning, let it cool and slice it up. I make some sandwiches, normally with cured meats on them without any salad – I add the salad leaves and the cheese when we’re on the rug, so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

Other easy-to-carry items I take on a picnic are breadsticks wrapped in Parma ham, cocktail sticks loaded with olives, cheese and chorizo, and a bowl of green salad. The thing to remember with a salad is to take your dressing with you in a small, sealed container. You can dress the salad on arrival, which will stop it getting soggy, and make it far more appealing.

If you don’t want to make your food, M&S has a fantastic range of picnic food, which I will often turn to if I’m short of time. Things like falafels, stuffed pastries, roasted vegetables and cured meats all feature in the picnic range, which often has promotional deals.

So regardless of your budget, you can have the perfect picnic, just as long as the British summer time is on your side. And if not? Take it indoors. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you can’t throw down your rug in your living room and create an indoor picnic. I’ve done it before and it’s just as much fun.

Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.


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