What makes the humble picnic so special?
Picnics remind me of my own childhood, of freedom, fun, friends, happy times and play. I suppose this is why I am such a fan. They are a break from the routine, a chance to chill out without the formality of meals at home or at a restaurant and therefore always popular with small children. The sitting still etiquette can be wavered at a picnic introducing a fun element. My children always end up eating twice as much as they would round the table at home.
All the fun and excitement and you save a fortune compared to eating out too! No stressing over whether they like cafe/restaurant food, whether it is good for them, whether or not to let them have the fizzy drinks, and worrying that they don't like it after you have paid and waited to be served. All the content of the picnic and the time of when you eat it can be exactly as you choose. Now I think about it that has huge advantages!
When and where to Picnic
We are huge picnic fans and take every opportunity. We have even been known to carry a picnic to the play area or front lawn at Coombe Mill and indeed I have seen many of our guests do the same. The If you are not staying with us then a picnic in the garden with a sun tent or in the local park can be a great half day activity. The beach is another favourite for us, all that running around building sandcastles and paddling and the kids are always ready to eat an hour earlier than usual! A quick hand rinse in a rock pool and they are ready to tuck in! Any day trip is worthy of a picnic, in Cornwall we have so many family attractions which make a great day out and every time the picnic wins for us. Having 8 in our family makes finance a big factor but for all the convenience and fun factors already mentioned I think we would choose a picnic anyway!
What to pack for a picnic
I always vary my picnics to keep it interesting but have a few golden rules:
Never pack chocolate in the summer or anything else you are worried about going off or melting
Make more sandwiches / rolls than you would at home, kids will eat more outdoors!
Pasties, sausage rolls or toasted sandwiches wrapped in foil are good alternatives to sandwiches for a change
Use the picnic as an excuse to have some of the treats you don't always allow at home (crisps are a winner with mine, they are a real treat food normally and they don't melt or go off)
Bought little cakes or biscuits are popular with us as I always bake my own at home
Dried fruit like raisins and apricots or carrot batons travel better than fresh fruit
Pack plenty of drinks, water or squash but they will drink more on a picnic too.
On colder days a flask of hot chocolate goes down well
For a real last minute picnic simply drop into your local supermarket and buy everything en route, no hastle at all, all the fun and still much less money than eating out!
A few extra tips from experience
- Always know where the nearest toilets are to your picnic spot - kids always eat then need the loo!
- Wet wipes for sticky fingers
- Use disposable containers - I recycle ice cream tubs - then you can throw it all away afterwards
- Don't stress about making and packing the picnic, simple and quick is fine or it becomes a chore
- Remember the picnic rug or blanket
- Chill and enjoy your family time
I first wrote this blog for multiplemummy Kerry. She has 3 lovely youngsters and is keen on the benefits of picnics. You can see her blog and my original post here http://multiplemummy.com/blog/picnics-a-favourite-with-the-kids/