Picnics are a MUST in the summer season, especially in London where hot summer weather lasts only for a week. While Americans commercialised picnics, a trend that starts with the celebration of Independence Day on the 4th of July eventually expanding into a National Picnic Month, the English, and to some extent the French, invented picnicking in the 18th century and Victorians institutionalised picnics by the late 19th century.
The best and the worst part about picnicking is that depending on your time, budget and occasion there are countless ways to throw a successful summer picnic- the worst being the planning, preparatory and decision making part of picnicking.
If you Google ‘summer picnic ideas’ you will find countless cutting-edge blogs with well-represented picnic themes, but most of them seem somewhat complex for those of us who don’t have experience in picnic planning because we are busy, gadget people that get distracted easily.
Compared with our parents’ generation we are less patient but more practical picnickers: they spent more time enjoying luxurious outdoor banquets while we look for ‘snackable picnic experiences’ possibly in a WiFi friendly area, so we can tweet about the good weather and post pictures of the fantastic food.
We never have time to ‘relax’ as even our weekends are spent on the go- partly because of FOMO (fear of missing out), partly because our friends are scattered in different parts of the city and it takes time meet them and partly because there is simply too much to do in London on weekends. So how can we make the most out of picnics in the summer season?
Picnics in the past used to be lavish five course outings filled with indulging foods that left you drowsy, boozy and lethargic for the larger part of the afternoon. Remember that it’s summer and you will also go to the beach at some point so it would be wise to watch calories and ingredients when you pack your picnic lunch- I prepared two 300 kcal picnic recipes to put you on the right track for picnic meal planning.
Choose recipes that take no more than 10 min to prepare and are easy to carry. That way you can take them with you in your office and have a 20 min outdoor picnic rather than pigging out on cookies that your colleague gave you.
Don’t plan your picnics because then you end up stressing about them- you see the sunshine and you feel guilty because you haven’t planned your day better. The truth nowadays is that it’s simply not realistic to plan picnics as planning drains you mentally and takes too much your time that you end up attending your picnic tired. The trick is to know what the picnic essentials are and to use ingredients you already have disposable in your fridge.
Social Media for Picnicking
Invite as many people as possible using your social media accounts and eventually 1% of those invited will show up. This saves you the stress of coordinating activities.
Even on weekends modern picnics shouldn’t take longer than 1 hour. If you spend more than 1 hour you will probably end up eating more food than you intended to and run out of conversations to talk about. Pack up and leave after an hour. The beauty about short picnics is that you can do as many of them as you like throughout the week.
The two summer picnic recipes I prepared are light (both light to carry and healthy). It took me 15 min to prepare both of them and 2 min to set up them up.
Also I found four other picnic options from food blogs I really like and recommend- two of them I credit because they were a source of inspiration for the recipes I feature today while the other two are alternatives I thought work well for picnics.
Unique – Watermelon Crispies by Dine and Dish
Happy National Picnic Day!
Green pressed sandwich
1 fresh medium sized ciabatta bread
2 tsp. organic mayo
1 green bell pepper
30 g mild organic cheddar cheese
2 hand-full baby spinach leaves
*Brown baking paper & kitchen thread for wrapping
1. Cut the ciabatta bread across and section two perfect squares
2. Spread mayo
3. Cut the bell pepper and avocado into thin sticks
4. Cut the cheddar into thin, square slices
5. Layer the sandwich: baby spinach, bell pepper, avocado, cheddar, baby spinach- on both sides.
6. Repeat, put the sandwiches together, wrap it tightly in cling film and find a heavy pan to sit of them for 6 hours in the fridge (ideally overnight)
7. The next morning, take pressed sandwiches, remove the excess with knife around so they are perfectly square.
8. Wrap the sandwiches with paper and tie them like mini parcels
Mixed bean salad in a Jar
Makes 3-4 portions
3-4 organic canned beans types of your choice- preferably different colors
1 green bell pepper
A dozen cherry tomatoes
4-5 medium pickles
2 large carrots
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 juice of lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
A jar the size of your choice for packing
1. Separate the beans in different dishes and chop the bell pepper and carrot into thin small sticks
2. Slice the cherry tomatoes in quarters. Slice the pickles
3. Prepare the lemon vinaigrette: lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper
4. Start layering the jar- black beans, mixed cannellini beans, green bell pepper, carrot sticks, cherry tomato, pickles, green beans
5. Pour the vinaigrette into the jar, close and shake up. Cool in the fridge