Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Picnic Ready!

St. Louisans know that we have very small windows in between our cold, slushy winters and our too-hot, too-humid summers. These small windows of spring and fall? Oh my, do I love them! Matthew resides in the same boat as me, so whenever the weather approaches mild we go into "picnic mode".

"Picnic Mode" is not some passing fancy of oh, let's try to have a picnic next weekend. It is a full on attack of every park within walking distance of our home. In doing so, we tend to race against the clock once we get home from work--especially in autumn when the sun starts setting early. Over the years, I've found a few easy ways to maximize our post-work-picnic-potential. The common thread throughout is to keep things easy and to keep things ready.

Food and Beverages:
  • Glass bottles of water in the fridge (when you get home, fill 'em back up and pop 'em back in the fridge)
  • If we know the weather report for the coming week is good, I’ll make a big batch of something that lasts for several days in the fridge. Think salad: pasta salad, chopped salad, chicken salad, chickpea salad, or bean salad/salsa (like this or this). If I am really on the ball, I will divide it into smaller portioned tupperware. Note: in the photo above, I was not on the ball but just grabbed the whole bowl and carried it to the park!
  • Generally speaking, our fridge is always stocked with chopped veggies, hummus, dressings, and cheese (don't forget to grab some crackers from the pantry). Throw any of these into your cooler and blammo! instant picnic fare. I'll pair some combination of these foods with a more substantial dish (see above) and call it done.
Getting Around:
I have a lightweight insulated tote bag that is perfect for quick picnics. You can find these almost everywhere (Target, Walmart, Amazon, BB&B, and the like). I keep it regularly stocked with the following.
  • Disposable forks, knives, and spoons
  • Bottle opener with cork screw (you never know when you might opt for some wine/beer!)
  • Paper plates and napkins
  • Bug Spray
  • Wet wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Little cutting board & knife (for cheese)
So when we get home from work, I grab the grub and toss everything into my bag. If there happens to be some extra room, I might throw in a freezer pack to keep everything chilled. And that's it. We sail out the door to enjoy some lovely scenery and each other's company. It's really one of my favorite things that to do with Matthew; I can't think of a better way to decompress from the workday! So as fall approaches (we are currently having a heatwave in St. Louis) get yourself ready to relish it with just a little bit of organization.


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