7 Tips for the Perfect Outdoor Picnic!
The weather may be taking a turn for the worse, but it won’t dissuade us from outdoor eating. It’s hard to deny the fact that food and drink is tastier outdoors. That’s one of the reasons we have a rich tradition of outdoor picnics in the UK. Whether you’re in the sunny south of England or the Highlands of Scotland, chances are you’ve enjoyed a picnic or two in your lifetime.
No matter what activity you enjoy in the great outdoors, a well-planned outdoor picnic can be a great addition to your adventure! Here are some tips and ideas for your next picnic that are sure to convert almost anyone to the joys of outdoor eating and drinking!
1. Leave the flask at home!
It might sound like sacrilege, how are you supposed to enjoy the outdoors in our climate without something hot to drink? You don’t need to pre-make your hot drinks and carry them around all day though. Why not make your tea or coffee over a fire for a real outdoor experience?
Coffee made in the wild is one of the real joys of the outdoors for many of us. There’s something really comforting about a crackling fire and the smell of coffee brewing in the air. Unlike many other outdoor activities, it actually gets better as the weather gets cooler.
Whilst there are many different ways of making your coffee outdoors, your favourite method will likely be personal to you. Check out our last blog for a range of techniques, however our firm favourite is to use a percolator. All you need is your favourite brand of coffee grounds, a percolator and a fire or portable stove.
Just set it all up and get on with your picnic preparations! Whilst a flask is often much more convenient, the flavour and experience is worth it. If you do bring a flask with you then you should remember our next point:
2. Flasks are for more than just tea and coffee
Many of us see a flask and our mind automatically goes to hot beverages. However there’s a reason most flasks come with a booklet telling you how long they’ll keep your beverage cold as well as hot. A great way to level up your picnic is to make some icy cocktails or aperitifs and stick them in your flask before setting off. After all there’s nothing better than a nice, refreshing mojito after a wild swim or a challenging hike!
There are other great ways to use your flask other than for tea or coffee. All it takes is some creativity and experimentation. Don’t limit yourself to hot drinks on your next trip!
3. Cooking in the wild
You don’t have to go through all of the stress of cooking and preparing everything beforehand. It might seem a little daunting if you’ve never done it before but cooking outdoors is amazing! Everything about the experience is amplified.
There are a number of ways you can do this. The easiest is to purchase a small portable stove. These are super simple to use and modern stoves are packable and efficient. You can quickly make up your favourite one pot meal for a fresh, warm addition to your picnic.
Another great option is over the fire cooking. With this is one you need to be careful with however. Always check your local laws and regulations before you even consider having a fire. If you do decide to have a small fire, and it is allowed by the landowner and local laws and regulations, please be sensible and follow some basic fire etiquette.
Once you have all of this under control, here’s a great simple side dish you can cook in a fire with minimal fuss that will wow your fellow picnicers:
- Wash some potatoes and cut into large chunks
- Place in aluminum foil with some sliced onion, garlic powder, butter and paprika
- Place the aluminium foil parcels by the fire for 20-45 minutes. To check the potatoes are done, open the parcel and put your fork in one!
Always remember to leave no trace when you’re finished with your fire. Enjoy nature responsibly and leave a beautiful picnic spot unscarred for others to enjoy. There are also camping and picnic spots out there with pre-built fire pits that you can research beforehand!
4. Salads in a jar
Salad in a jar is one of the best viral trends going just now. Separate however many portions you need into jam jars before heading off, put your dressing in first along with the more robust ingredients, place your more delicate salad ingredients in the jar next.
The idea is that the dressing and more robust ingredients marinate together whilst the delicate, leafy components are protected. When you’re ready to eat, just tip the jar onto your plate or bowl and you’re ready to go! Flavourful salad and no sogginess!
5. Keep it simple: The Ultimate Picnic Sandwich
Remember to have fun with your picnic. You’re not out to win any cookery awards. The essence of a picnic is simple food, shared with friends outdoors. You don’t have to spend weeks planning out a feast with courses and complex ingredients. Sandwiches are the staple picnic food for a variety of reasons. They’re quick to assemble, easy to carry, filling and downright delicious! However, too many picnic sandwiches end up squashed and soggy from long treks at the bottom of a backpack. The solution is our Ultimate Picnic Sandwich! For this quick and easy picnic recipe all you need is:
- 1 x firm, crusty baguette
- ½ cup of pesto of your choice
- 225 grams of mozzarella cheese
- 100 grams of salami (leave this out for a vegetarian option!)
- 5 tomatoes, roasted and sliced
- 1 can of roasted peppers
- A handful of basil leaves
You don’t need to be too precise with these measurements. You can experiment and play around with the ingredients but the most important aspect is the bread. You need something solid that will survive the journey to your picnic site. Assemble the night before and cut into sections and wrap in baking or greaseproof paper. Simple, filling and sure to go down a treat with even the fussiest picnickers!
6. Be prepared!
As with any outdoor activity, preparedness is everything. One key way to ruin a picnic is failure to prepare properly. It’s important to consider the time of year, the location and the people going.
Make a checklist before heading out. Remember safety and first aid equipment, especially sunscreen. Are there any special dietary requirements in your party? Don’t plan a picnic on top of Ben Nevis in the middle of winter and plan your location based on the fitness of your party. These may seem like common sense to many of you but it’s vital to keep preparation at the front of your mind.
7. Dress appropriately
No matter where or when you’re picnicking, it’s vital to dress the part. Proper outdoor clothing is a must for your own comfort, safety and happiness. This becomes more and more important as the weather gets worse.
At this time of year a basic layering system can make a huge difference. The basic concept of layering is to dress in three layers:
- Base layer: Usually used to wick sweat away from your body. Wool or synthetics are used frequently for this task
- Mid Layer: Ideal for insulation. Usually something in a warm material to retain your body heat and keep out the cold. (Ghillied Leggings make for an ideal, environmentally friendly mid-layer)
- Outer Layer: A shell to protect from the elements. Keeps out the wind and rain and can be removed quickly when necessary
The key to a good layering system is ease of use. You want to be able to quickly remove or add layers as you need, especially as we can have all four seasons in one day!
You’re now prepared for the perfect outdoor picnic! Keep these recipes and tips in mind next time you’re planning an outdoor adventure. Have a look through our other blogs for more great outdoor inspiration and subscribe to our mailing list for updates on what we have been up to at Ghillied HQ!