Whether it’s a picnic in a park, at the beach or just in your own back yard, picnics are fun for the whole family. This article is from the Reynolds Kitchen and has many wonderful tips on picnics.
Picnic Packing Tips
Pack 2 coolers, one for frequently used foods and drinks and one for perishable foods like meats. Constant opening of a cooler to get drinks prevents foods from staying well chilled.
Pre-chill the Cooler
Fill the cooler with ice or ice water and let stand for an hour before packing with food. Empty the cooler and pack with thoroughly chilled foods and ice or frozen gel packs.
Travel with your cooler inside the air-conditioned car rather than packing it in the hot trunk.
Keep the Heat In
Wrap or cover cooked foods in foil to carry to the picnic site to hold in heat until serving time.
Keep Food in the Cooler Until Serving Time
Place your cooler in the shade, and keep the lid closed to maintain low temperatures.
Pack a first-aid kit with sunscreen, insect repellent, Band-Aids and wet wipes. Remember to include any necessary medications. Include a cover in case of rain and a flashlight if it gets dark.
Keep kids busy with an activity box filled with baseball and gloves, bug collecting equipment, sketch book and crayons, bubbles or sand toys.
When you need a disposable tablecloth that liquids won’t soak through, use Reynolds® Freezer Paper. The white paper gives a neat, clean look to any picnic or party table and protects against spills.
Take along desserts that are already in serving sizes, such as cupcakes, cookies and bars.
Keep Foods Cold on the Table
Place salads and desserts in either an 8”x8” or a 2-quart Reynolds® Pot Lux™ Disposable Cookware pan. Then place the smaller container in a 13”x9” Reynolds Pot Lux Disposable Cookware pan. Fill the larger pan with ice to surround the smaller pan.
Remember Picnic Etiquette
Get permission before entering private property. Follow all rules for the site you’ve chosen. Keep the noise level down if you’re picnicking near others.
Don’t Forget Cleanup
Clean up thoroughly after your picnic. Remember: Whatever is packed in, needs to be packed out. Don’t litter.
Picnic Food Safety
Food safety is always important, especially at outdoor summertime events. The following tips can help you protect your family from food-borne illnesses.
Follow food safety guidelines by keeping cold foods cold (below 45°F) and hot foods hot (above 140°F). Pack an instant read meat thermometer (available at most grocery and kitchen stores) so you can monitor the food temperature. Remember that perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours and not more than one hour if the temperature is 90° F or above.
Keep Picnic Foods Cold
Thoroughly chill all cold foods before packing. Keep food in the cooler until serving time. Do not leave it out on the picnic table.
Marinate Meats Safely
Thaw and marinate meats, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
Cook meat, fish and poultry thoroughly. Do not partially cook food to finish grilling later; bacteria grow faster in partially cooked food. See the following guidelines from the USDA on proper meat temperatures to ensure safety:
- 170° F for white meat
- 180° F for dark meat, with flesh no longer pink and juices clear
- 145° F in the center
- 160° F, with the center remaining slightly pink
Ground Meat and Poultry
- 160° F measured through the patty, regardless of color
Use a Clean Plate for Cooked Meat from the Grill
Never place grilled meat on a plate that has had raw meat on it. Always use a clean plate or platter to carry the cooked food from the grill. Alternatively, line the plate with Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum foil when carrying the meat to the grill, then discard the foil and place the cooked meat directly on the plate.
Do not leave the food out on the picnic table. Put leftovers back in the cooler as soon as you’re finished eating. Replenish the ice if it melts. Keep leftover food only if there is ice still in the cooler when you get home.
Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food. Clean cutting surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after each use.
For more food safety tips, you can visit the USDA’s web site. While there you can download a PDF brochure to help prepare and serve food safely for large groups such as family reunions, church dinners, and community gatherings.
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *