Last week we packed a picnic and headed downtown for one of our favorite summertime rituals—Concerts on the Square. Thousands of people flock to the grassy park surrounding the state capitol every Wednesday for picnicking while listening to the Madison Symphony Orchestra. It’s just a cool, family-friendly experience, and we try to go a few times each summer. I’m always trying to figure out just what to pack for our picnic, especially when we’re “entertaining” – taking along visiting friends or family as we did last week. Being able to prepare everything ahead of time is absolutely key. So with the help of my husband, we devised a picnic-perfect menu that you can easily make for just a few people or expand for a larger crowd. It’s healthy, gluten-free, and dairy-free in the event your guests have food allergies. And even if you don’t have time to get in an actual picnic this summer, it’s a great menu for a backyard or balcony meal. Get each of the recipes today over on The Everygirl, and see my quick tips for packing the perfect picnic below!
Make (most of it) ahead. Prepare almost everything the night before your picnic, so you can get out the door faster. Make the cheese spread, marinate the chicken legs, and put together the core ingredients of both the quinoa salad and melon salad. Right before you head out, grill the chicken legs and add the citrus juices and herbs to the two salads.
Create a family-style spread. Pack everything into plastic or glass storage containers with lids and pack a few serving spoons. Once you arrive, spread out the containers in the middle of your blanket, and let everyone help themselves.
Skip the cooler. The beauty of this menu is you don’t need a giant cooler of ice to keep any of the items cold, as everything is great at room temperature. Grab a large tote or picnic basket, fill it with all your items, and you’re good to go.
Invest in reusable dishes and glasses. Ditch paper plates and plastic cups, which don’t hold up well and create waste. Instead, invest in reusable (and infinitely more stylish) melamine dishes and glasses. They’re great for picnics, dining on the patio, and especially for kids. West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and Target all have great options.
Designate a go-to picnic blanket. So you’re not scrambling last minute, keep a favorite quilt or blanket next to your picnic basket so you can grab it and go.