The Perfect Picnic

I LOVE to do picnics in the summer. Timothy always seems to eat more al fresco; and it’s an awesome way to get together with friends for playdates, or spend a weekend as a family. Now that it’s August, and after two months of testing recipes and tools; I’ve finally come up with the perfect picnic meal. I’ve also discovered everything you need for toting your stuff to the park!

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One of my biggest issues, though, is we usually like to head to the park in the morning and play for hours before eating, which means our food is sitting for a while before we eat. It’s been pretty hot here in NYC and many of the foods I love (spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic vinegar for instance), just get soggy and gross when they’re warm. I could pack everything in ice packs, but then it just gets too heavy; and I’m already carrying blankets, toys, etc. So I’ve come up with some recipes that are totally ok to make ahead of time and are still tasty even if they get a little warm.

To start the perfect picnic, you need the perfect picnic basket. I absolutely love this one from Target:

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It’s the right size to fit a lot of food and it’s insulated. I like that there’s a side zipper pocket where I can store some cash and keys and not have to carry my purse.

JJ Cole I also love a good picnic blanket and this foldable one that I found from JJ Cole, I can throw on my shoulder or over the stroller handle. It is amazing, waterproof and cute. It’s really ideal for babies and toddlers and super easy to wash.

Now, what to put in the picnic basket? Below are my 4 favorite recipes to complete the perfect Summer picnic:

1. Lebanese Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad from Cookie + Kate: Bean salads are tasty and packed with good nutrients like fiber and protein. I love this salad because it is really easy to prepare, the lemon and mint really standout and make this a summer favorite.

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2. Watermelon & Feta Salad with Mint: Who doesn’t love watermelon on a hot day? This recipe from dresses up this summertime favorite fruit and is a great appetizer, side or even healthy dessert. You can use your leftover mint from the bean salad.

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3. Roasted Chicken served cold: I pick up a whole roasted chicken from Whole Foods and chill it in the refrigerator. I’ll cut it up into smaller pieces and bring along in tupperware. Chicken is great served cold and still tasty if it gets a little warm in the mid-day heat. Sometimes I’ll bring along wraps (I love Flatout) to make chicken sandwiches, or toss it into the bean salad.

4. Cold Sesame Noodle Salad from Yummy Beet: This is one of my favorite salads and a great way to sneak in vegetables if you have any picky eaters around the house. To be honest, I usually use a store-bought sesame dressing instead of making my own – either way it tastes great. Also, I find it best to mix in the dressing right before you’re ready to eat the salad; and I put some dressing in a small mason jar to take to the park.

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To lighten the load, I’ll re-use takeout containers to put the food in and that way we can throw them out in recycling bins when we’re done eating. I absolutely love summer picnics and simplifying it has made the experience even more enjoyable!

And lastly, don’t forget to bring a ton of water. I always carry a bottle of übr water on me and make sure Timothy has his sippy cup full.

Tell me, what are your favorite go-to picnic recipes? I’m always looking for new, fun things to make!

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