step up your picnic game this summer
It was the last day of vacation and I offered to make everyone lunch. There was seven people to feed, most of whom would be in their bathing suits and promptly returning to the lake after our meal, so I needed something quick and easy. Since it’s August and in the mid 80s, I was committed to not turning on the oven and I needed to clean out the fridge by making use of all the leftovers. So I created a menu that took all of our childhood favorites and presented them in a way that felt more elevated. I’m always impressed by what a set table can do for your mind, and I knew that was going to be my secret weapon.
The menu was simple and light; mac and cheese, hot dogs, lobster rolls, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, celery and carrots with hummus, salt and vinegar chips and carnival style lemonade. I gave myself one hour to prep and put it all together (lobster had already been cut and mixed up) and it’s amazing how quick you can whip up childhood favorites! Beyond the actual food, these are the simple techniques I used to make our everyday picnic lunch feel memorable.
1. Use dishes and utensils. Family style is always more personal, and when you skip the paper plates and plastic silverware for actual place settings, your meal suddenly becomes worthy of a photo. It helps you slow down and enjoy your meal simply because it looks like more thought was put into creating it. It’s also the more sustainable option. Tip: No need for matching sets or china, use the dishes from your childhood and let the memories roll in!
2. Play music in the background! Spotify has very unique summer playlists that add a little something special to the background of your meal. Bring out your waterproof Bluetooth speaker and keep the volume low but enough to catch your ear. Tip: make sure Otis Redding is on the playlist!
3. Spruce up the classics! I used local Maine blueberry jelly on the PB&J sandwich. The hot dogs were topped with sauerkraut, onion, and brie cheese and a sprinkle of bread crumbs on the mac and cheese makes a huge difference! If you are doing veggies and hummus, and a few more dip options, like french onion and bleu cheese.
4. Add a centerpiece! Keep it simple; if you have flowers inside already, bring them outside to your picnic. If not, you can’t go wrong with a ball jar arrangement! They symbolize “sustainable option” and not “farm chic” to me and only take a few stems to look full and styled. Tip: Don’t be afraid to forage from your yard. Right now you will find lovely ferns, queen anne’s lace, and golden rod outside. Just by putting a stem or two in a recycled glass bottles will pull the tablescape together, so no need to worry about arranging.
With exactly two weeks til Labor Day, it’s about time you stepped up your picnic game and invited the gang over for lunch. Don’t forget to keep it simple!