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Pack the Perfect Picnic

With summer in full swing, many of us have picnics on the brain. After a while, the back patio just doesn’t cut it anymore – it’s time to find a new view, fresh air, and some tasty food to enjoy with family and friends or as a relaxing feast for one.

Don’t stress about finding the perfect picnic spot – there’s probably one just down the road. Choose a place that you can reach easily by walking, biking or paddling. Getting some exercise along the way will help you work up an appetite.

 If you’re craving a destination picnic, you won’t be shortchanged in Nova Scotia. Some hot picnic spots include Dollar Lake near Musquodoboit Valley; Point Pleasant Park in Halifax; Shubie Park in Dartmouth, Bayswater Beach in Lunenburg Country; and Oakfield Provincial Park on the Shubenacadie Grand Lake. Check out this map of provincial parks for more ideas.

Choose healthier options

Although soft drinks, chips and hot dogs are convenient go-tos, try packing your picnic with healthier nibbles. Choose local in-season fruits and veggies, healthy sandwiches and lightly dressed salads. Make a chopped veggie salad instead of the usual potato or pasta salad.

Unsalted tortilla chips with homemade salsa, deviled eggs, or grilled vegetables like zucchini or bell peppers are other tasty choices. For dessert, trade in the cookies and brownies for fruit kabobs or fruit salad. Don’t forget to bring lots of water and your sunscreen!

Ditch the plastic

Most fresh fruit wraps itself, so you can forgo the plastic wrap and plastic produce bags. Bring your food in washable containers and tote the things that don’t need refrigeration in a reusable tote bag (no need for a fancy basket, unless you already have one!).

Opt for finger food if you can, so you won’t need to pack utensils. If you can’t source reusable plates or cups, pick biodegradable options or look for products made from recycled materials. Skip individually wrapped drinks for larger jugs or bottles. Pack a washable tablecloth and napkins.

handle food safely

Although warm weather is ideal for enjoying the outdoors, it creates the perfect conditions for food-borne bacteria to thrive. Ensure that your hands and all surfaces are clean – use hand sanitizer and cover the picnic table with the tablecloth – before you dig in.

Pack perishable foods in a cooler kept below 4°C with ice or frozen gel packs. If you’ll be grilling at your picnic, store raw meat on the bottom of the cooler so it doesn’t drip onto other foods. Use a separate cooler for drinks, so the cooler containing the food won’t constantly be opened and closed.

Pack it up

If you’re driving to your picnic site, place the cooler inside an air-conditioned vehicle – not in the trunk. Don’t leave perishable food unrefrigerated for more than two hours. If the ice in the cooler has melted, discard the food.

Remember to take your garbage with you. Leftover picnic food in garbage cans attracts bugs and animals, and leaves a smelly mess for the next picnickers. Bring an extra container for any food waste.

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