5 tips for a healthy picnic

October 9, 2015

Heading out for a Sunday afternoon meal in the park doesn't have to be unhealthy. Here are some ideas for your picnic to be enjoyable and still be good for you.

5 tips for a healthy picnic

Make your own soft drink, and let it cool your picnic

Making and freezing your own drinks can serve two purposes -- act as refreshment and as a cooler for other foods. Here's a recipe for lemonade which is always great on picnics.

  • Using about three lemons for one litre (one quart).
  • Squeeze the lemons, which should give you about 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) juice.
  • Mix that with 125 grams (1/2 cup) sugar (or to taste) and add 750 millilitres (three cups) water.

The night before your picnic, freeze the lemonade in plastic milk cartons. Then use the cartons to help keep the food cool in the cooler. Drink the lemonade as it thaws.

Think finger foods

Let's be honest: managing forks, spoons and knives on a picnic isn't much fun. You can make a terrific meal with foods that require only two fingers to eat. Start with the healthy nibbles: berries, cherry tomatoes, grapes, celery and carrot sticks, asparagus spears, olives, cheese cubes, crackers and so on. Next, consult your favourite cookbook for appetizers like stuffed mushrooms, chicken fingers or foccacia that can be eaten by hand. Need more substantial food? Sandwiches, ribs, fried chicken and burgers all fall in the no-cutlery category. You'll be grateful come cleanup time.

Bring lots of hand sanitizer

Bathrooms with warm water and good-quality soap are in short supply on picnics. So use the next best thing: waterless hand sanitizers. These cleaning gels kill germs instantly and dry nearly as fast. They're the perfect hand-cleaning solution, particularly if you are serving finger foods. Be sure to have a large bottle on hand.

Use lots of squirt bottles

You can buy squeezable, plastic squirt bottles for next to nothing at any restaurant supply store. Use them for mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, oils and any other condiment or cooking liquid. They are easy to pack and super clean to use. They're one of the best secret tools of professional chefs.

Keep desserts simple

For a hot summer day, there's nothing better than a slice of watermelon, a fresh-picked peach or a bowl of cold strawberries for the perfect ending to an outdoor meal. Skip the fruit salad — and all its preparation, serving and cleanup hassles. Or serve up your best brownies and cookies. Again, these are all finger foods that require no plates or cutlery — and that everyone will love.

Planning easy to use, simple foods will help reduce the time it takes to prepare and clean up a picnic. This means more time for you to enjoy the sunny afternoon in the park.

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