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The perfect summer picnic

Venturing into the great outdoors with a heaving picnic basket is one of the best things about summer. Whether you are planning a picnic for two or 10, eating outdoors requires good preparation. So before you think about settling into a shady spot with a cool drink and a pie and sauce, keep these tried-and-tested pointers in mind.

Pack your basket

Always be ready to picnic, keeping your basket fully stashed and stocked and ready-to-go. Choose and pack your picnic paraphernalia carefully – there’s nothing worse than leaving cutlery at home or a leaky cool box. Ensure your Tupperware is shut tight and wrap strong smelling items (like gooey cheeses) in separate plastic bags. Look for a vast picnic rug with waterproof lining, outdoor cushions, and camping chairs to ensure absolute comfort. Take along a board game, boules, and a frisbee too. It’s a great way to bring everyone together.

Don’t forget to pack garbage bags. They are ideal for carting home dirty dishes and cutlery, and for left-overs just in case there are no rubbish bins at the picnic site. Pack your basket in reverse order to make it easy to get to the items you need right away. Place non-perishable food on the bottom, then serving items and tableware, and finally your rug on top.

Pack durable melamine cups, plates and platters – they are so much nicer to eat off then paper. Plastic cups are best for kids, and if bringing wine glasses for the grown-ups, consider packing melamine or acrylic ones as well as a lightweight tray to perch them on during pouring and between sips. Packing food that needs to be kept warm? Pack in sealed food containers or keep in its cooking vessel, like a casserole dish, for a laid-back rustic feel.

If it’s a super-hot summer’s day, a cool box is ideal for keeping your foods and drinks icy-cold. If you’re feeding lots of people, bring two coolers, using one for drinks and the other for food.

When packing a cooler, aim for around 25% ice and 75% food. Place ice on the bottom and along the sides, and place the heaviest and most perishable foods on top of the ice, then fill in with lighter items. Large pieces of ice melt more slowly than ice cubes, so if you are planning a long picnic, use chunks of ice instead of cubes. Simply fill clean empty milk cartons with water and freeze.

Pick your spot

The last thing to consider is where to set out your feast. It might be the banks of a nearby lake ready for the fireworks, local park or a shady spot in your garden. Take a hike or bike ride with a portable picnic in tow, or take your picnic to romantic heights and sit near the sea at sunset, lighting a few tealight candles, if permitted, for ambience.

Now all there is to do, is choose a sunny day, string up some lights, wave a flag and enjoy!