After blistering heat this past week, families around Oregon are ready to get back to normal summer activities like playing in the sprinkler and going to the park. One fun activity you can do to celebrate cooler weather is having a picnic with your family. You don’t have to pack an elaborate picture-perfect basket of food to have fun. Here are some easy tips to get you eating al fresco with your kids this summer.
Keep it Simple
When we think of picnics, often the quintessential wicker basket filled with fancy food is the image that comes to mind, but it does not have to be that elaborate. You could bring a meal in a paper sack, and kids will be excited simply because you are eating somewhere different. Stick with easy, finger-friendly foods, especially when you plan to eat on a blanket or park bench. Sandwiches, sliced vegetables, and fruit are easy options for kids to munch without making a mess or dripping onto clothing, and you won’t have to pack plates and cutlery. If you choose to pack finger-friendly foods, remember wet wipes to clean dirty hands before eating.
You can also keep it simple when picking your picnic location. You do not have to go far to have fun. Take a meal that you have already prepared out to the backyard, put a blanket on the grass, get a take-out meal, and stop at a park. On long summer days where you need something different to do, packing an impromptu picnic can be a great way to be spontaneous. Your kids will be happy to eat somewhere besides the kitchen table, and you can have a break from cleaning dishes afterward.
Don’t forget to pack something for everyone to drink, especially if you are headed to a park or on a hike. We like to keep a few water bottles in the freezer to bring on picnics. You can use them to keep your food cold on the way and then allow kids to drink from the bottles once the ice starts to thaw.
Keeping food cool is an important part of picnic preparation. You won’t want anyone to get sick from spoiled food, especially on a hot day. If you have a meal that needs to be kept cold, think about investing in a cooler or insulated bag. Once you start eating, keep food in the shade as much as possible and put leftovers away to stop food from spoiling quickly.
You should also plan to keep your family cool while eating your picnic. That might mean finding a shaded spot for your blanket or packing a sunshade or umbrella. Take time to pick a spot that will allow you to enjoy your meal without being baked in the sun at the same time. Sunscreen and hats are a good idea as well.
Include an Activity
As you put together your picnic, look around the house for an easy activity to bring along, such as a ball, frisbee, or kite. Family members eat at different paces, so an activity or game that can keep fast eaters close until everyone finishes eating is helpful. Yard games like lawn bowling, ladder ball, and kubb are also perfect for older children who are too old for slides and swings.
Picnics are a perfect way to enjoy the summer weather and spend quality time with your family. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple and spontaneous. Your kids will remember the time you spend together more than the food you eat. The important part is getting outside together and having fun.
Mary Weggeland grew up in Alaska but has called Oregon home for the last ten years. She lives in Sherwood with her husband and three kids. When she is not writing, Mary enjoys reading fiction, making crafts, and baking desserts. She also loves road trips and exploring Oregon with her family.