The Patch

May, 19th

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic
Now that lockdown restrictions are easing and we’re finally seeing some better weather, why not reconnect with friends and family over a picnic?

Nothing beats al fresco dining in the countryside surrounded by the ones you love, especially those you haven’t seen for a while. So dust off your picnic blanket, search out that wicker hamper and get packing for the perfect picnic with our handy how to guide.

What to Bring to a Picnic

Preparation is the key to success and the same is true for picnics! What you need to pack is obviously going to depend on the style of picnic you’re going for, perhaps it’s a posh picnic with tables and chairs or maybe a humbler, more rustic affair with a few Tupperware pots and a blanket. Regardless of which, here are a few basics you can’t do without...

  • A BIG blanket, nothing beats traditional gingham but for practicalities' sake, a waterproof and machine washable one is preferable
  • Sun lotion - We appreciate this may seem wishful thinking for picnicking in the UK, but even on overcast day, sun cream is still necessary when you’re spending time outdoors
  • Insect repellent – Don’t let midges and mosquitoes spoil your picnicking pleasure, especially if you choose a spot near water
  • Bottle openers & corkscrews – there’s nothing worse than reaching for an ice-cold beverage and realising you’ve left the bottle opener at home
  • Flannels & hand gel – Especially necessary for picnics with kids and wiping those sticky fingers. Just pop a splodge of hand gel on the flannel and you have a great environmentally friendly alternative to wet wipes
  • Tea towels – Another great environmentally friendly picnic hack! Great for mopping spillages and covering food and they can easily be washed for future
  • Ice packs – Essential for keeping perishable food cool especially if you have a long, hot car ride to reach your destination
  • Water bottle – Don’t forget to pack lots of water!
  • Travel mug – Hot drinks are essential for picnics in cooler weather
  • First aid kit - Easy to forget but particularly important when taking along accident-prone children. Plasters, bandages, antiseptic spray, antihistamines, hydrocortisone creams and pain killers are all handy items to take along, especially if your day out includes a woodland walk or physical activities
  • Games – Perfect for keeping kids and adults entertained. A simple bat and ball is great for a game of rounders or you could create your own scavenger hunt with prizes for the winning team. Why not get everyone to bring their favourite teddy for a teddy bear’s picnic?

Choosing the Perfect Picnic Location

This will be slightly dependent on the type of picnic you’re going for. A more sophisticated picnic with tables and chairs will need to be located close to your parking spot for easy set up. However, if you are looking for a more rustic picnic that can fit in a couple of rucksacks, you can be much more choosy.

  • Avoid long grass – Biting beasties are not a guest anyone wants at their picnic. Ticks thrive in long grass where children and dogs are likely to play.
  • Find a shady spot – A big tree is great for providing shade and the perfect shelter for any sudden downpours.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of room for kids to run around so they stay amused while you can continue enjoying your picnic delights.
  • If the worst should happen, head for cover! There’s something magical about a picnic in the car watching the rain fall outside.

Picnic Recipes

We love picnic food, you can’t beat a good old sausage roll and some egg sarnies, but you can make your food as fancy or as simple as you choose. Here are a few of our own ideas to get you started

Vegan sausage rolls

A vegan twist on an old classic that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser for meat-eaters and vegans alike, these vegan sausage rolls are super tasty and easy to make.

You will need...

  • 2 sheets of 320g vegan puff pastry – remember to remove from the fridge 20mins before using
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 175g each), peeled and cut into medium chunks
  • 400g tin kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 30g parsley, leaves chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • large handful black olives, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame or poppy seeds

Directions...

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7, and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper
  2. Put the sweet potatoes in a large microwaveable bowl, cover and zap on high (800W) for 10 minutes until completely cooked. Mash, then add the kidney beans & mash again to break them up.
  3. Stir in the red onion, paprika, cumin, parsley, lemon zest, tomato purée, black olives & garlic. Give everything a good mix & season generously.
  4. Unroll the first sheet of puff pastry and cut lengthways into 2 long rectangles
  5. Make a sausage shape out of a quarter of the mixture & place along the middle of one of the rectangles. Brush the borders with a little oil then roll the pastry over the filling to enclose.
  6. Press the edges together using a fork, then using a sharp knife cut into 6 pieces.
  7. Transfer onto your baking tray, then repeat the process with the remaining pastry & filling, until you have 24 rolls.
  8. Pop in the fridge for 20 mins, this will stop them bursting in the oven (they can also be frozen at this point). When you're ready to bake, brush the tops & sides with the remaining oil and sprinkle the seeds.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden brown. Serve with condiments of your choice.

Pasta Salad

You will need...

  • 300g fusilli pasta spirals – or you can use farfalle (butterflies) or penne (quill tubes)
  • 225g bag prepared fresh baby spinach
  • 250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g black olives
  • 200g feta cheese, broken into chunks ·
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Directions...

  1. Cook the pasta for 10 mins or until soft, in salted waterr
  2. Add the spinach & cook for a further 2 mins until the spinich has wilted
  3. Drain the pasta & spinach in a colander
  4. Add the feta, chopped tomatoes, olives & olive oil. Season to your taste & stir together

Chocolate Brownies

You will need...

  • 325g dark chocolate
  • 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 90g soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 100g plain flour

Directions...

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 (160 fan), grease and line a 20 x 30cm tray
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large saucepan, stirring regularly to ensure the chocolate doesn’t burn
  3. Cool slightly, then add the sugars, eggs & flour, then stir well
  4. Pour into the tray and level out the mixture with the back of a spoon or palette knife
  5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins, the top should look cracked around the edges and it should no longer wobble
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack & pop in the fridge. To get the perfect squares, ideally leave the brownies in the fridge overnight to harden and then use a serrated knife dipped in warm water to cut.

Whatever you make, the important thing is just to get outside and enjoy yourselves.

Perfect Picnic Essentials

  • Reusable Water Bottle

    £9.99

  • Bamboo Tatty Teddy Lunch Box

    £6.99

  • Good Things Shopper Bag

    £2.99

  • Bamboo Travel Mug

    £5.99