When I was a kid, I loved picnics. Okay, scratch that, I love picnics. Preparing the food, setting up the picnic by finding the perfect spot in a park or our own garden, all this is fun to do together and then the novelty of the picnic experience itself is simply bliss to me. Now that money is of a concern, another advantage to picnics is that you get a fun family outing without huge costs. The food is the main cost of the whole affair, and it’s more fun to make it together, so you can use recipes that are known for their cost saving skills.
But picnics are rare occasions, as you need to have good weather. Or … do you? Surely, as long as you have some shelter, you can have a picnic anywhere and still get the same fun out of it. You can even have a picnic in winter. There are many places in your own garden where you can have a picnic in winter. Garages, porches, patios even garden sheds are all viable options as a picnic area. They may need a quick sweep, and depending on the weather you may want to put a waterproof plastic tarp under your picnic blanket. If you’ve chosen to have the picnic in your garage or garden shed, consider adding a portable heater to the area, so you can enjoy the picnic for longer before everyone gets cold.
Also think about activities to do after the picnic is over. In summer, we kids, would play tag or hide and seek. Some more winter based activities can be chosen such as playing a round of Monopoly or Jenga, or the ‘Who Am I?’ game, wherein everyone has a piece of paper with a person or character written on it stuck to their foreheads and they have to find out who they are with various questions that can only be answered with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
As the food is the main event of the picnic, make sure that there is something for everyone and that it’s fun food that you can eat with your hands or by using a fork. Dips are great ways to encourage your children to eat more vegetables. Cut up some carrots, and celery sticks into thick strips so that they can be dipped easily, and offer a cheese dip, and tomato or mango chutney dip. Your children will soon be wolfing down that celery. Sandwiches, of course, work well for a picnic, and you can make these more interesting by having several sandwich options, such as the classic PB & J, cheese and tomato or chicken in mayonnaise with salad. Alternatively you could marinate some chicken legs in spicy barbecue sauce the day before and then cook them ready for the picnic.
Of course, no picnic would be complete without the dessert. Cupcakes with different colored frosting or icing, cookies of various flavours such as chocolate chip, lemon and raisin or blueberry, are all delicious and easy to make. Your children can and should, as it’s more that way, help you with the preparation of the food. Spreading sandwiches, mixing dip, and making cookies and cupcakes are all tasks they can do with a little supervision. You won’t need to tell them twice about licking out the mixing bowl, as I’m sure they will be way ahead of you on that one. With a winter picnic simply be sure that everyone is warm and happy, and the rest is just like your traditional picnic.
Written by Sarah Oxley, picnic lover, on behalf of Tiger Sheds, manufacturers of garden sheds, potting sheds and playhouses.