Enjoy the experience of dining al fresco no matter the time of year with these simple and easy tips for what to pack for a picnic.
What to Pack for a Picnic: Food and Supply List
Anytime of the year is picture perfect for dining al fresco.
And, whether you need to pack for a picnic in the park, on the slopes, on the trail, or even at the beach, you’ll find both a handy picnic supply list, as well as some suggestions for what food to bring to your next picnic.
Picnic Supply List
First off, I want to say that not everything listed below will be manageable or even needed for your picnic event.
But what is certain is that you need to start somewhere and I’ve made it my goal to at least give you a starting point from which to consider what to bring to your next picnic.
Take this picnic supply list with a grain of salt (no pun intended), and add or delete items at will.
Here are my recommendations as a helpful picnic supply list:
1. Picnic Basket
Start with a plastic storage bin or wicker picnic basket in the back of your car loaded with your picnic gear. That way, you will be ready for every outdoor dining adventure.
A must-have is a tablecloth. Check your local Dollar Store or other discount retail centers for disposable plastic or cloth checkerboard tablecloths and party fares.
Or, you can do what I do and go to a fabric store and have the store clerks cut enough fabric for your table. You don’t even have to hem it.
Just throw your tablecloth in the car and go. And, because it is cotton, it wears like iron. If it gets a bit frayed at the edges, you can cut off the flyaway or leave it au naturel.
Picnic Tip: Once your tablecloth has lost its usefulness as a table linen, you can let the kids use it for a makeshift tent, baby blankets, clothes, or even use the remnants for a scrappy quilt.
Coolers have come a long way since they were first invented. Today, you can find coolers in a variety of sizes and configurations. Many also roll on wheels for easy carting from car to table.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of foodstuffs that don’t require refrigeration (see picnic food recommendations below). Even so, it’s always best to err on the safe side and make sure that you keep questionable food (and drinks) chilled and on ice until you are ready to dine.
What you bring to a picnic is just as important as what you make to eat. It has to be durable and beautiful at the same time. Regardless whether you bring plastic or graniteware, be sure to bring bowls, plates and cups, along with enough sets of silverware.
There’s something special about checkered napkins. Sure you can use paper ones, but why? Cloth napkins are larger and can be also used as a bandana in a pinch when you need to keep your hair tied back or as a cooling method when wetted with ice water.
6. Bottle Openers and Corkscrews
Not all bottles are screw top, so you’ll need to pack a bottle opener and a corkscrew, just in case.
7. Cups or Glassware
Some folks like to bring disposable glassware but I like the idea of being eco-friendly by using plastic glasses or graniteware. My favorite is graniteware. It’s the ideal drink ware for both hot and cold drinks, plus it’s very durable.
Picnic Tip: Mason Jars are perfect not only for transporting food but also as glassware for your favorite beverage.
RELATED: Simple Alcoholic Coffee Drinks
8. Ice Packs
No one wants to get sick from eating spoiled food, so be prepared by packing ample ice packs in your cooler to keep your perishables chilled.
Picnic Tip: Don’t have ice packs available, you can use frozen water bottles instead. Not only will these keep your food cool but also give you a cold refreshing drink. These water bottles can also be use as a first aid to help reduce swollen limbs or cool from the heat, in a pinch.
9. Toys and Sports Equipment
RELATED: What to Bring to the Beach
10. Lawn Chairs
Many parks offer picnic tables, but after a while the seats become uncomfortable. That’s why I like to bring my favorite lawn chairs along for informal seating.
11. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are definitely a picnic essential. Pack a few boxes and leave them in the car for wiping dirty hands, cleaning wounds in a pinch and soothing roughed up skin. Plus, it also works well on S’more-covered faces–just saying.
Picnic Tip: Keep your wipes near the ice so that when you need it, the wipes will be cool to the touch and feel refreshing.
Additional Items You Might Want to Bring
Here are a couple of other picnic items that may also enhance your picnic experience:
What Food to Bring on a Picnic
Now it’s time to focus on a picnic foods list. What makes this so easy is that quite a number of recipes and foodstuff can easily be transported nowadays thanks to high rated coolers and thermoses.
You can choose to go simple and do sandwiches or all whole-hog and opt for a more elaborate spread.
Either way you can’t go wrong with these deliciously handpicked picnic foods ideas:
Romantic Picnic in the Park for Two Ideas (Video)
Check out this montage of recipes perfect for your next picnic for two or more.
Grilled Vegetarian Kebabs (Video)
Get your grill fired up and get ready for some really delicious but vegetarian picnic food.
BBQ Chicken Recipe – BBQ Pit Boys (Video)
Down home and saucy, chicken becomes the star with this picnic perfect grilling recipe.
Healthy Summer Picnic Food Ideas – Honeysuckle (Video)
Picnics can be no fuss and no muss with these no-cook picnic ideas.
Pack and Go Picnic Recipes – Everyday Food
Dispel the ho-hum picnic food with these hot and spicy recipes.
For all of your party and celebration needs, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Entertaining Section.