It’s starting to look a lot like summer, and we are more than ready for some outdoor fun and adventure. One of the best ways to take advantage of the beautiful warm days ahead is with a delicious picnic in a beautiful park, at the beach, or in your own backyard. There’s something about eating outside that makes food taste slightly more delicious.
Ask Team Clean has put together some tips for how to take your outdoor activities to the next level. Today, we’re packing for a perfect picnic.
First, you’ll need the right container for your picnic. While the traditional wicker basket looks romantic, it doesn’t have the right insulation to keep your food cool. We recommend using an Esky or an insulated storage bag instead. You also want to make sure that your Tupperware is closed tightly to avoid leaks. Pungent items should be wrapped in a plastic bag. Make sure all of the food is cool when packing it and leave the packing until the last minute, so food doesn’t spend extra time sitting out. The most perishable foods should be put closest to the ice or gel packs.
Pro tip: Fill up your Esky or storage bag completely. A full cooler will keep everything cooler longer.
So you have your food packed up and ready to go, but don’t forget your essentials! You'll need a picnic blanket, plates, utensils and glasses. You might want to opt for reusable plastic plates, utensils and glasses to avoid accidents.
Other essentials include paper towels and wet wipes. Pre-moistened wipes will keep your hands clean and help clean up sticky spills if there’s no running water available. We recommend bringing paper towels instead of napkins. They are perfect for spills and won’t blow away like napkins if it gets windy. If you have a big spill, you'll want to wash it when you get home.
If you’re eating on the ground, a lightweight plastic or enamel tray will provide a smooth surface to prevent drinks and other items from toppling over. Seasoning might seem like a small thing, but salt and pepper can go a long way towards making your picnic feel more thought-out and spicier. A folding knife will come in handy for a variety of jobs, and it's an essential tool if you’re serving meat and cheese. Last but not least, we recommend always bringing a few garbage bags along for easy clean up, and to make sure you leave your spot exactly how you found it.
Make sure your food has completely cooled before you pack it into containers. Food that has been left out in hot weather for more than two hours should not be eaten – no matter how delicious it looks! A good rule of thumb is cold foods should be stored below 5°C. Hot foods should be stored above 60°C. An Esky with plenty of ice packs will help keep your foods cold enough. You can also freeze small water bottles and use them in your Esky. They'll double as cold water to drink once they have melted. Items from the refrigerated section of the supermarket should be kept cold. While whole fresh fruit doesn’t have to be cooled, you will want to keep cut fruit on ice. Salads should be stored cold and left in the Esky after serving.
Remember that food can be left in your Esky as long as the ice or ice packs are still frozen. Opening the Esky will raise the temperature more quickly and should be avoided as much as possible. You’re better off taking everything out when you need it and putting it all back in at once. Another good tip: leave the Esky in the shade.
To avoid any tummy troubles, it's a good idea to throw away highly perishable foods right after you’ve eaten them. Just like you, we don’t like throwing away food, but better safe than sorry. Only keep leftovers if they haven't sat out and were stored in the Esky all day. They should still be on ice in the Esky when you get home. We generally suggest sticking to the golden rule: when in doubt, throw it out.