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Kids: The art of picnicking

Kids: The art of picnicking

Who doesn't love a picnic? Kids jump at the chance, while parents might think it takes a lot of effort. But think again: no housework, no dishes and no mess! We can't imagine a more relaxed meal, even as a summertime supper during the week!

The where, when and how of picnicking

A picnic doesn't have to be restricted to the weekend, in a big park an hour's drive from your home. On weekday evenings, you can put a picnic together on the fly and enjoy it in your neighbourhood park, or even your backyard. Wherever and whenever, kids are happy to eat in the outdoors.

You can also combine your picnic with another kid-friendly activity, such as a trip to the museum, an outdoor movie screening, or a performance in the park. For more ideas, see what your city's recreation programs have to offer.

Creating a child-friendly menu

As a rule, finger foods make the best choice for a picnic. Kids love their sandwiches, so why make it complicated? To satisfy everyone, make two different kinds.

As for quantity, pretend that you're preparing lunches for school, including snacks. Apart from a chance to play, children think of a picnic especially as a chance to fill their bellies. Also, you'll avoid returning home with leftovers, even if this means some of the non-eaten food spoils in the hot sun.

What to bring:

  • One or two kinds of sandwiches that everyone likes. Beyond the classic ham and cheese sandwich, there are plenty of other appetizing ideas, such as this Smoked turkey ciabatta with bacon, apples and mayonnaise.
  • Whole fruit. No cutting means less work and fewer containers. We suggest apples, grapes, bananas, strawberries, peaches, plums, oranges, etc.
  • A dip, such as hummus (high in protein), with fresh veggies, including baby carrots, cucumber sticks, sweet peppers, chopped broccoli, cherry tomatoes, celery, and so on.
  • Snacks for dessert, including cereal bars, biscuits and even chips. It doesn't always have to be healthy if it's just this once...
  • Plastic juice bottles filled with water and frozen, to keep your food chilled. You can discard them on leaving the park, so you have less weight to take home.

Planning to bring snacks to tide the kids over till mealtime? Pack them last, so you don't have to rummage through the basket to find them.

For other picnic accessories, think minimalist:

  • Paper plates for dishes. You can even find biodegradable ones that are more earth-friendly.
  • Small garbage bag for juice boxes, food wrappers and other waste, which you can discard at the park in a garbage or recycling container.
  • Damp cloths in a plastic bag.
  • Sunscreen
  • Large sheet to lay on the ground, in case the picnic tables are all occupied.

Optional

  • Sunshade. If you have young children who might wish to sleep, remember to protect them from the sun.
  • Games. A bubble blowing kit, chalk for drawing on asphalt, Frisbee, etc. Check out these five outdoor games to keep your gang occupied.

Enjoyed your experience? Next time, say goodbye to the old and awkward wicker picnic basket. Why not try this picnic backpack, which you can use summer after summer. It comes with four place settings, and you can even take it on a romantic picnic for two.

For other sandwich ideas, try this one , this one or this one.