Friday, 22 April 2016

10 reasons to love picnics and how to make them perfectly stress-free!


"There are very few things more fitting than a really good picnic as spring turns to summer. Warmth, good food, and the great outdoors - what could be better?" Jamie Oliver

Nothing Jamie - nothing! 

There is literally nothing better than a picnic with the family on a summers day.

And here's 10 reasons why picnics are so wonderful.

1. Spontaneous

Quick the sun is out - grab the picnic basket!!

We HAVE to make the most of sunny days in this country. It is a rare occurrence so if you see a speck of sunshine peaking through the clouds - get out quick!

2. The Great-outdoors

There is nothing better than the sun of your face & the wind in your hair whilst the kids burn off their energy, running around you.

3. Choice of location

The local park, your garden, up a mountain, the side of a lake or the middle of a forest - the choice is literally yours. Wherever you go - your picnic comes with.

Each picnic can be enjoyed with a brand new view.

4. Low-cost

Let's be honest - days out with children can cost a small fortunes at the best of times - add in buying lunch in a restaurant and you end up having to re-mortgage the house or selling the family dog to afford it. 

Picnics are a cheap & cheerful way to feed the family whilst out.

5. Stress-free

Taking children to cafes & restaurants for lunch can not only be expensive but very stressful too - trying to find a spare table in amongst the lunchtime rush, waiting for your food to arrive with hungry children who just want it NOW & trying to keep your child's bum on a seat for more than 30 seconds can be a nightmare.

Picnics are perfect - just chuck your blanket down when and where you want and you are instantly lunch ready.

6. Minimum effort

Although they do take a little bit of preparation, if you keep things simple, they really don't take much more effort than preparing a lunch at home.

7. The kids love them!

I have yet to meet a child who doesn't love a picnic. Mine get excited to have one even in the garden or the lounge floor!

And when the kids are happy - we are too right?

8. Relaxed & informal

Perfect for chilled out summer days. This 'no-faff' style of dining means you can relax and enjoy the scenery whilst topping up your tan and the children are happily enjoying the great outdoors around you.

9. Romantic

I know I've spoken mainly about how great picnics are for the kids but if you are lucky enough to be child-free, picnics make the perfect daytime date. 

Add in some prosecco and fresh strawberries for the ultimate romantic touch.

10. Great way to socialise

Space is not an issue when dining outdoors so you can invite all of your family & friends and socialise the day away.

Picnics are basically like mini parties anyway right?
____________________________________________


My top tips to make your picnic perfectly stress-free are:

BE PREPARED
OK, so I know I've said they are great because they are spontaneous but being 'picnic-ready' at all times does mean you have to be a little bit prepared. 

This is as easy as having your hamper to hand and not stored in the loft or the back of THE cupboard [You know, that one cupboard everyone has that is filled to the brim with crap that has no specific place in the house. The cupboard you can't find anything in when you need it!] and have it ready filled with your picnic wares like a blanket, cups, plates etc.

It is also very useful to take bin bags and wipes with you - Picnics are messy!

KEEP IT SIMPLE 
Don't over complicate the food and don't pack everything but the kitchen sink.

Delia Smith advocates a keep it simple approach to outdoor eating, allowing you to make the most of a spell of warm weather and enjoy a relaxing Al fresco meal with family & friends.

I'm with Delia on this one! 

Whilst Jamie Oliver thinks that the perfect picnic means making everything yourself from scratch, and I'm sure his home made grub really is delicious, sometimes you just don't have the blooming time!

Being a mum, life is blumin' busy and having to prepare the foods yourself beforehand is just impractical. And takes away the spontaneous, 'grab & go' element of it all slightly.

Luckily, the supermarkets & shops sell a great range of ready-to-go products now to make life slightly easier.  

Here are my top picks:

1. The hamper

Kinda the most important thing for a picnic right?

Without this, you're a bit screwed.

This one from Home Bargains is fab - so stylish with it's Cath Kidston-esque floral print, insulated to keep your foods fresh & cool, folds flat to store away easily, big enough for a family and is super sturdy with it's metal frame & handles.

Oh and the best bit? It is a steal at just £5.99!

Hamper - home bargains - £5.99

2. The containers

Again, this is kinda an essential part of a picnic as not everything can be kept in it's packet or shoved in a sandwich bag - like salad!

This sistema salad-to-go container is perfect with it's 2 layer design, separate compartments and little pot in the centre for salad dressing. It even has its own cutlery attached!

Sistema Salad-to-go £4.80

It keeps everything secure, compact & fresh.

The Sistema-to-go is available from supermarkets and online for around £4.80

Sistema Salad-to-go £4.80
For everything else, these little containers from home bargains are great.

Aside from the fact that they look oh so cute, they store away inside each other to take up minimum space in the cupboard and are perfect for anything from crudites to children's snacks like raisins.

I used the smallest one for butter for our crackers so we didn't have to take out the whole tub.

Set of 4 bird containers - home bargains - 99p
3. Cheese

I don't know about you, but there is nothing worse than cheese that has sweated. 

Sweaty cheese literally makes me shudder.

So I avoid taking out cheddar cheese on picnics.

Primula is the perfect solution. Being soft cheese, it doesn't sweat (hooray!) and comes in a handy little tube so you can squeeze it on what you want when you want.

And it comes in flavours to suit everyone - a light version for the dieters, original for those who just love soft cheese as it comes and flavoured varieties for the more adventurous amongst you.

We used our primula on crackers but it is great for sandwiches and in a tub as a dip too.

Primula cheese £1.45 available in most supermarkets.
4. Pastries

A picnic has to have sausage rolls right?

Even Mr Oliver believes this is an essential element of a picnic.

And who are the king of sausages?

Wall's!

So you know you can rely on their sausage rolls to be perfectly seasoned and meaty.

A filling addition to any picnic with minimum fuss - just grab a packet and off you go.

Wall's also sell a range of slices and pasties that are ready to eat and great for on the go.

Walls 4 sausage rolls £1.75 available from most supermarkets
5. Savoury snacks

Another essential element that you can just plonk straight into the picnic hamper are savoury snacks.

For something a bot more special that crisps these knacks by Peter's Yard are great for sharing, easy to open and feature a handy little resealable top so you can transport them back home again afterwards if you haven't already scoffed the whole bag.

You can eat them on their own, with a dip or with some cheese like a cracker (The primula is delicious on them)

They are healthy and the flavours are subtle but yummy!

Knacks sharing bag - Peter's Yard - £2.40
And who could forget the cheese straws?

You HAVE to have cheese straws. It's like picnic law.

These Stag Cheese straws are something a little bit special.

Not your standard cheese, these beauties come in 4 different cheese varieties - Ayrshire bonnet, dunlop, strathdon blue & smoked dunlop. Each one tasting just like their different cheeses.

Perfectly cheesy without being overpowering and crisp and buttery & definitely not dry. These are delicious.

Stag bakeries cheese straws available in a range of stockists including Marks & Spencers £3.49
6. Kids snacks

When you have little ones in tow, you need to think about what they can eat and pack accordingly. With LB being only 15 months, I always have to make sure I have a tub of snacks with me at all times so a picnic is no different.

He LOVES these kiddylicious (especially the grape ones)

They are freeze dried fruit and vegetables which means they have simply removed all of the water from them to make these light little melt-in-the-mouth bites.

They come in handy individual packets which is ideal for a mess-free snack any time.

Kiddylicious cunchy grapes and peas & sweetcorn - available from most supermarkets - £0.50 each.

They have no added sugar, are gluten free, have no artificial additives and are suitable from 12 months.


I have to admit, they look slightly odd. And the pea and sweetcorn ones don't sound so appetising but all three children love them!



7. Sauce

Condiments at picnics are so often overlooked, yet they are so easy to pop into your bag!

This Encona smoky jalapeno sauce is a great way to add some spice to your picnic and liven things up a little.

Add it to sandwiches, squirt it on crackers or use is as a dip for your bread sticks and cheese straws.

Encona Smoky jalapeno sauce - available from most supermarkets - £2.00
8. Pickles

We've got the crackers, we've got the cheese, of course we have to have some pickled onions to go with it all too!

Another easy element, a jar that you can just pick off the shelf and chuck in but one that adds an extra special touch to your picnic.

It's the little things that come together to make a big impact and liven up your lunch.

Haywards make amazing crunchy pickles both traditional strong & zingy onions aa well as my favourite, the sweet & milk silverskin onions. Yum! 

Haywards pickled onions - available from most supermarkets - £1.89
9. Sweet treats

Of course, no lunch, whether it be at home or away would be complete without a sweet treat to finish it off nicely with.

The easiest to transport & share out in a picnic is probably cupcakes.

And I'm going to do a Jamie Oliver here and say, for me, there are no better cupcakes than home made cupcakes.

Why not try these fruit crumble & custard ones? 

Vanilla sponge with a gooey fruit centre topped with custard flavour frosting and granole crumble.

Very quick and easy to make but very scrummy.


Or for something extra special and summery - these cocktail cupcakes.

Amaretto sours to be precise.

Amaretto sponge topped with lemon & lime frosting & an maraschino cherry.

This is definitely one for the adults!

Keep your eyes peeled ....Recipe coming soon!!!


10. The drinks

That's the food all under control, but lets not forget something to wash it all down with!

You want something that ooozes summer. Something fruity and zingy.

These Zeo drinks are exactly that.

In mouthwatering flavour like mixed berry, blood orange & citrus and zesty lime, these are bursting with flavour.

These drinks are low in sugar, low calorie and have no artificial ingredients.

They also come in handy individual bottles.

Zeo drinks - available in most supermarkets - £1.29 each
And for something in a bigger bottle to pour and share, these Great Uncle Cornelius drinks by James White's are just as refreshing.

They come in 3 flavours - Lemon, Rhubarb & Ginger and all 3 pack a punch! 

The rhubarb one is my favourite - the kids loved it too but I feel like it is far too nice for them.

Something a little more sophisticated for the adults. Perfect for a romantic picnic.

Great uncle cornelius drinks - James white website - case of 12 £30.
11. The clean up!

As I mentioned above- picnic are messy, as are children. Combine the two and you're in disaster zone.

But Huggies have it covered with this handy little on-the-go pouch and wipes!

It has a little clip handle to attach to what ever you like so it is always on hand to help when you need it. I have it permanently attached to the side of the pushchair so I know they are always there.

The pouch is water proof with a click top and come with a pack of huggies wipes.

You can easily refill the pouch with its zip lock top when you need to.

It comes in 3 different stylish designs too. I matched mine to the yellow in the pushchair.

Huggies style on the go pouch with wipes - available from most supermarkets - £3.50
11. Entertainment

Depending on where you are off too, it's a good idea to pack some entertainment for the children - their favourite ball game, Frisbee, scooter? Whatever you can grab from the garden basically.

But to add that extra bit of atmosphere, music is a great addition.

This Goodman's DAB radio is compact, lightweight and can be battery run so it is perfect to take out and about with you.

With a wide range of DAB stations available, you're sure to find the right music for you.

And how stylish is it oozing retro chic?

Goodman's Oxford II DAB radio - £69.99




Now you're all set. Go and enjoy the great british weather & outdoors this summer with picnics-a-plenty.






*Disclaimer: Some of the products mentioned here were gifted to me for the purposes of review however all opinions stated above are my own and true.*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...