Fill Your Basket with the Best Picnic Food

A guide to preparing the perfect picnic, including recipes for bruschetta rustica, marinated bean salad, and several sandwiches.


| June/July 1993



138-026-01-im1

Hold the mayo and the chips.... picnics are just as scrumptious without them.

PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Pump up those biceps: cooler hauling time is here again. Ah, it's the season of the movable feast, so while you're at it, grab the sunscreen and insect repellent. Whether you're picnicking at the beach, park, zoo, backyard, or bike trail, you've got to launch out prepared for any hunger attack that may strike.

When I speak of portable food, I'm not talking about when the ants carry off the blanket, but rather about your own carefully planned feast. Picnicking used to be so simple. We had a choice of ham, tuna, or egg salad on white bread—with lots of mayo. There was also the mandatory potato salad and coleslaw . . . and brownies for desert. But suddenly life has become complex with high-fat versus low-fat food choices, and the consuming question: "Is there life without mayonnaise?" In fact, the entire picnic atmosphere has become health-conscious. Remember witnessing throngs of people parking their oiled bodies on beach towels and rolling over every hour? Now "the perfect tan" conveys one of two messages:

1) sheer ignorance or 2) a death wish. When it comes to picnicking, my husband claims I take everything but the kitchen sink—which is why we rarely reach the lake before sundown. (However think of all the money I save on sunscreen.) Of course, no one complains when they're stuffing themselves every half hour, which is how frequently kids and husbands eat when away from home. The only catastrophe I've had was when we hiked 10 miles into a canyon only to discover I'd left lunch back at the car. Rule #1: The best picnics are those that actually make it to the picnic site. Here are a few time saving tips to get you out of the house at an early (or at least reasonable) hour:

At the first sign of warm weather, make up a picnic basket or bag with all the picnic necessities, including: bottle opener, knife, plastic ware, Ziplock bags, and so on. Replenish the basket as needed but don't unpack it until October.

Freeze an ample supply of freezer packs (or as I refer to them, "those frozen things") in a variety of sizes. Frozen lunch-box juice packs can also be used as frozen things. If there's no extra room in your freezer for long-term storage, keep packs in the picnic basket so they can be popped into freezer the night before the outing.

Get yourself a smaller cooler so you don't always have to lug the big cooler.

Prepare your food the day before the picnic. Don't make up the sandwiches ahead of time because they'll only get soggy. Instead, wrap up the fillings or store in plastic containers and have picnickers prepare their own sandwiches as needed.





mother earth news fair

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, hands-on workshops, and great food!

LEARN MORE