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Use two small coolers - one for fruit and beverages, which will be opened frequently, and one for such perishables as meats, poultry, salads, sandwiches, and cheese.
Chill food thoroughly in the refrigerator or freezer before placing in cooler - the cooler cannot chill foods that aren't already cold.
Use store-bought ice packs, or make your own: Freeze juice boxes, or fill milk cartons or plastic bottles with water (leave 1-inch headroom at top to prevent bursting; fold carton over to close, or place cap on bottle before freezing). Pack perishables right next to ice packs. Keep fruits and delicate veggies like lettuce away from ice to prevent bruising and "freezer burn."
Fill cooler to the top (if necessary, add ice cubes or other cold nonperishables to fill space) - a full cooler keeps food cold longer than a partially filled one.
When I was a kid, we picnicked a LOT in the summer. My mom got tired of the table cloth blowing up and tipping everything, so she began packing a twin-sized fitted sheet in the basket. It fit the public tables perfectly, and no more blowing tablecloths. In fact, she won a similar tip contest with this back in the late 50's, but I have not seen it mentioned since then.
Fitted sheets for picnic table cloths is a great idea and you can catch them on sale. You could also fold the corners and sew them into pockets. Take some rocks or weights with you to put in the pockets to hold the sheet down if it is windy.
Use an empty drink carrier when picnicking or in your back yard. Put forks, spoons, napkins, ketchup and mustard in each slot. It's easy to carry and keeps stuff organized.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
If you need to keep milk or cheese cool when camping or picnicking, wrap them in wet cloths and place in a bucket. As the water evaporates, it keeps the food cool. Remember to dampen cloths again when they dry out.
Source: My woodwork teacher at secondary school - he used to keep milk cool in the classroom in this way, and said he learnt to do so in the desert.
I've noticed that soy milk doesn't have to be refridgerated until opened. Worked on day trips.
In these tough economic times, finding time to be with the one you love can be hard. Between scrambling to keep up and getting the kids ready for school, couples can become very stressed. Here is a quick and easy picnic that can be put together in no time and would be very easy to take to a local park or to an outdoor concert.
Paper towels at a picnic work better than napkins, just screw a paper towel holder under the table on a end. Then you can just "pop" a roll on holder when dining in the out of doors and the roll of paper towels stays dry/clean and won't blow away with the wind.
Take your dinner out to the park for a midweek picnic! My husband and I have a place where we can park, take a nice walk and then eat on a shady picnic table.
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Tips for having a great picnic. Post your ideas.
By Cyndi Roberts
The Fourth of July is just around the corner and for a lot of us that means heading out to the lake or to the park for a picnic with friends or family.
Unfortunately, if we're not careful when we plan, transport and serve that picnic, our outing might not end up happily.
Here are some tips to remember when planning an outdoor meal:
1. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria multiply quickly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. Foods that have been kept at unsafe temperatures are a prime source of foodborne illnesses.
2. Plan ahead and try to take foods that don't spoil so quickly. At any rate, don't eat anything that's been sitting out for more than an hour, especially if the temperature is over 80.
3. Try to take only the amount of food that will be eaten, so there will be no leftovers.
4. Pack your food with ice or cold packs in an insulated cooler. Place foods that will be eaten last in the bottom. You can make your own blocks of ice by freezing water in milk cartons or other plastic containers.
Place ice blocks or cold packs between containers of food, never just place containers of food on top of ice.
5. You might want to bring 2 coolers -- 1 for drinks, because it will be opened more often, and 1 for the food, that can be set in the shade and kept closed until needed.
6. If you're planning to cook hamburgers at the picnic site, shape your meat into patties and freeze before putting into the cooler. Take along a meat thermometer to be sure you cook the meat to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.
7. An extra zip-top bag full of ice can be placed in the top of the cooler. The extra ice will come in handy for the trip home. If your day is a long one, and the ice melts the cold water can come in handy, also.
8. Carry your cooler inside your car, instead of in your hot trunk and be sure to place it in a shady spot and maybe even cover it with a blanket when you reach your destination. Open it only when necessary.
9. Instead of bringing whole jars of condiments, pack what you will need into smaller plastic containers.
10. Bring lots of clean utensils for serving as well as eating. Pack pre-moistened towelettes and paper towels for easy cleanup.
11. And remember this rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding leftovers: When in doubt, throw it out!
About the Author
Cyndi Roberts is the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter "1 Frugal Friend 2 Another", bringing you practical, money-saving tips, recipes and ideas. Visit her online at http://www.cynroberts.com to subscribe and receive the Free e-course, "Taming the Monster Grocery Bill".
I always take a roll of paper towels in the picnic basket. They can be used as napkins, place mats, spill clean-ups, and food covers. Multiple uses from 1 product.