How To Build a Summer Picnic
Happy (belated) Summer Solstice, friends! It really felt like winter would never end up here in Canada, and now it feels like the warm weather is passing by far too fast. I’m giving y’all some homework, but it’s pass/fail so there’s nothing to lose; get outside, touch some grass, and let’s build a picnic together.
To some, picnics are an opportunity to get back to our roots, grazing and picking at fruits and veggies between bouts of outdoor fun. Others, understandably, want to have an actual meal for lunch. As a chronic over-doer, I’ve had to reign myself in from bringing a four-course meal to a local park, so I’ve narrowed picnics down to a pretty simple formula:
Simple, Substance, Selection.
It may seem a bit daunting to get an easy to build and filling spread together with variety, but with some careful consideration, you can easily grab some pre-made sets from the grocery store and get by just fine. A pre-cut veggie tray with more than one dip, I’d recommend a fun hummus for our dairy free friends, and a guac. As someone who worked at a Mexican restaurant, I’m begging you to pass up on the store-bought guac and just mash some avocados with a fork. I know you can do it!
A Super Simple Guacamole
This is by no means mega authentic, but it tastes good so that’s all that matters.
✿ Ripe Avocados (as many as you need, I usually will do 3 for a decent serving, a ripe avocado has some give to it when you squeeze, but isn’t hard or hollow)
✿ 1/4 cup Diced White Onion (You can omit if you don’t wanna chop more than one thing)
✿ 1/2 Lime (Juice at least, but if you’re fancy like me, throw a touch of the zest in there
✿ Salt & Pepper (to taste, which means put a little, taste it, and add more if needed)
✿ 1/4 tsp Cumin (idk if this is authentic in any way but i find i like it, add more if you want more)
✿ 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (add more if you want more)
✿ 1 tbs Cilantro (if you and your friends don’t have the dreaded Soap Gene)
- Cut the Avocado in half. Remove the pit. Inside the shell, slice a few times vertically, then horizontally to make a grid shape, then scoop it out into a bowl with a spoon.
- Mash it up with a fork to your desired consistency (Some like it chunky, some like it smooth, I like it in between!)
- Squeeze in the lime juice, add your seasonings and (if using) finely chop and add your cilantro.
Possibly 10 minutes of your life at most later, and you’ve got a guac that’s 10 times better than the store bought stuff, but if you like it, I won’t yuck your yum.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie Board
From there, you can grab a fruit tray (no scurvy in this house) or cut up your own if you’re extra, like me. I love me a good “Smoothie Tray”, which really is just a specific assortment of fruits that you would put in a smoothie, but instead, y’know. On a board. Or, if you’re feeling extra fun, you can pre-skewer them for easier eating!
✿ Strawberries, stems cut and halved vertically
✿ Bananas, peels and sliced (bonus points if cut with a cute cookie cutter shape.
✿ Kiwis, peeled and cut (or unpeeled, if you’re an animal)
✿ Milk Chocolate (for that fondue vibe)
- Cut all of your fruit.
- Arrange it real cute in a sealable container (I like to use cupcake liners for smaller bits, like the chocolate or berries)
- :) thats it
From there, we get into substance. You can either grab a pre-packaged charcuterie kit from the deli section, some cheeses and some crackers, and set it up real quick when you get there, or build one yourself. I’ve been known to curate a killer board in my day, but my secrets will be kept for another month ;) My tips for now is: 3 meats, 2 cheeses, 2 crackers and maybe 1 spread if you’re fancy. I find a fig jam is always a hit, especially with a goat cheese. I’m getting carried away now, but you get the jist.
Now we’ve got fruits, veggies, protein and carbs, the food group people would be proud of us! We just need the finishing touches and a place to eat it all. For drinks, honestly it’s really fun to hit a convenience store on the way there and each pick out your own Silly Little Drinks. This way you don’t need to worry about cups, and everyone can try something new! For dessert, of course, the bakery section of any grocery store will work, but supporting a local shop is always a great idea! We have a gourmet cookie place in town and it’s always a go-to (Milk & Co Cookies in Guelph, if you’re from the area!). But hey, if you like to bake, maybe, I dunno, you can try one of my treats from before. 👀
Now, you’ve got the food and you’ve got the drinks. I’m sure you’re about to counter with “But picnics are messy! These are all finger foods, what are we supposed to do when our hands get sticky?”. Now, now my dear friend, you know we’ve thought of everything. You can get wet naps from the dollar store easily, use forks or toothpicks to grab components or grab your favourite hand sanitizer (since we all have our preferences, thanks for nothing, pandemic) and make do! Picnics aren’t necessarily about comfort, they’re about good food, friends and getting outside. The friends part is actually pretty optional, I’ve had a solo picnic or two in my day and honestly it’s liberating.
Now get out there, eat some snacks and touch some grass. Life is too short to not.