Friday, July 3, 2009

The Art of Picnicing

Okay, we are such picnic-ers we find ways to picnic in the winter even: on a blanket in the snow, for school lunch, a meal after church, on any friendly floor--but the real fun starts when we can have outdoor picnics!
Now that it's really summer, we pack a picnic everywhere we go.This lovely basket, pictured late last fall, was a gift that came filled with small metal dishes and cups as a child's toy set, but we've put it to hard real use. Most often I leave all the dishes at home, pack it with whatever foods we have on hand, and toss in a few of our everyday cloth napkins, maybe a knife to cut up fruit, or a spoon if needed for serving. We bring along a big water bottle or two, and make sure they're full before lunch for drinking and washing up. For our picnic, we use the napkins as plate, tablecloth, napkin, and towel all in one. When biking, the picnic blanket can double as a pillow for the kids, or be snugged around them if it's chilly.
For us, this is a great alternative to the waste of fast food and the expense of a restaurant. It takes little time to put together in the morning, but this small forethought saves us from ending an otherwise nice morning with tears and distress from tired hungry little ones, creating instead a little island of rest and nourishment in our busy day.
Ideas to fill a lunch basket, pail, or bag:
-any kind of leftovers, in a screw-top jar, with a spoon or fork. Paul found tiny wood sporks for a couple bucks apiece at our co-op.
-hummus mix: we get it in bulk at our coop. Stir in the water at the picnic spot.
-dried fruit
-powdered drink mixes: I also keep a few in a corner of our bag always, just in case we get stuck somewhere hungry and need a hold-over to stave off falling apart till a meal.
-cheese, salami, hard vegetables.
-sandwiches. Peanut butter and honey is a family favorite. At one time in my life, I ate tortillas filled with cheese and sprouts every day for a year.
-hard boiled eggs (don't forget the salt shaker or egg slicer!)
-a small jar of soup or yogurt. Hot soup, cider or cocoa can go in the classic thermos, or try a coffee travel mug if you have a convenient holster for it on car, bike, or backpack!
-ants on a log (celery spread with peanut butter, dotted with raisins. kids like to help make)

For more picnic ideas read the fabulous Best Friends for Francis by Russell Hoban.

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