Love the idea of a quaint picnic in the shade on a breezy summer day, but not sure how to make that dream a reality? Here’s a handy how-to guide to give you great ideas and help you navigate the do’s and don’ts of your perfect summer picnic!
For us, picnics come with the mental picture of a slow, warm summer day full of happy moments with loved ones spent on a red and white checkered blanket eating a delicious four course meal. What you don’t see are all the thoughtful preparations it took to get to that mental image, let alone a how-to guide for achieving it. So how do you keep your picnic from devolving into a puddle of unmet expectations? Let us help! While reality might never live up to the idealistic version in your head, picnics can be a blast! All it takes is little planning. We at Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce have compiled a simple list of tips and tricks to help make your summer picnic absolutely perfect. Or at least not a total disaster.
How to Make Your Summer Picnic (Almost) Perfect
1. Lower Your Expectations
This is the easiest and probably the most important step! Sometimes we miss the best moments in life because we’re too busy looking for “perfect.” Our suggestion? Let it go, and have some fun. Keeping your expectations loose and low will guarantee you have a great time, even if your blanket isn’t checkered (or is actually two towels you had in the car because you forgot the blanket), the ants move in, or the weather is terrible. If the point of the picnic is quality time and making memories with the people you love, a little rain won’t hurt (it could actually help!)
2. Keep It Simple
Speaking of reasonable expectations, it’s good to keep in mind there can be some complications when it comes to eating outdoors. Especially when you have to carry the meal TO the outdoors. Because of this, a picnic is not the time to overreach with your choice of fare. Your best bet is to keep it simple with the classics. At a loss? We have some ideas you can try:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
When was the last time you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? No time like the present to give that blast from the past a try! But classic doesn’t mean boring. Quality ingredients will take your meal from thrown-together to alfresco gourmet. Consider checking out Tacoma Boys and H&L Produce’s vast array of local jellies and natural peanut butters for ideas. We recommend Maury Island Farms Red Raspberry Jam and Wild Friend’s Classic Creamy Peanut Butter (or Sunflower Butter if you’re working around a peanut allergy). Bonus: Wild Friend’s is female founded and based in the PNW! You’ll love biting into this childhood favorite with grown-up ingredients.
When packing a picnic, it’s probably best to leave behind the actual board, but the idea is the same. Meat and cheese and crackers in any combination are perfect for picnics! Just slice, cube, and cut everything into bite sized pieces back at the house to save you from the struggle once it’s chow time. Then, toss everything in a reusable container and you’re on your way! Feel free to check out our cheese selection for new favorites, but you can’t go wrong with Beecher’s Flagship Cheese. And have you tried Hellenic Farms’ Fig Salami? Completely vegan, their Pistachio Pepper flavor is a must have for your perfect summer picnic. Additionally, Delreal Organic Medjool Dates from our produce are a great no-mess option for your picnic charcuterie. Pack some toothpicks and let everyone make their own mini kebabs!
3. Make sure it travels well.
There’s nothing quite so disappointing as opening your picnic basket to discover a mashed and mangled mess. To avoid this, be sure to include foods that can be packed easily into locking containers or that won’t be ruined if they get a little jostled. We recommend this recipe for Chicken Pesto Pasta by Damn Delicious. Just be sure to secure the tupperware lid! Or, make a dish sturdy enough to handle the ride in a Ziploc bag. For example, these Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with a gourmet twist from Delish. Again, quality ingredients are everything. For this recipe, in lieu of making your own honey mustard, try AJ’s All Natural Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard from our condiment section! AJ’s is local, and they source the majority of their ingredients right here in Washington state. And add Tacoma Boy’s Sweet Pickle Chips rather than plain old dill pickle slices. You can’t go wrong with either the Chicken Pesto Pasta or the Ham and Cheese Sandwiches. Both will look as great coming out of the basket as they did going in!
4. Have a little something on the side.
Now that you’ve figured out the main fare, it’s time to pack the bonuses! This is like stockings after the big presents are unwrapped. So, make it good! The easiest choice is fresh fruit. Peruse our produce aisle for the freshest fruit in the PNW. Look for great deals on local Rainier Cherries (Can you think of a more quintessential picnic food?) or our sweet and juicy plums (in season right now, and so delicious). For another great healthy side option, try this recipe for Avocado Tomato Salad. Tacoma Boy’s Corn Relish would go great in this scrumptious side dish! Again, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just make it something you’ll be excited to pull out of your basket.
5. Don’t forget dessert!
Nothing will make your perfect summer picnic complete like topping it off with a little something sweet! For a less messy take on strawberry shortcake, grab a Strawberry Log from Magic Flavors (a small business in Kent, Wa) from our refrigerated section. Enjoy as is, or top with additional strawberries and/or whipped cream. For a gluten-free homemade option, try Bob’s Red Mill Brownie Mix in our GF section. Or simply grab a package of Olivia Superfree Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes–also gluten free, and vegan! As you’re savoring the last morsels of your dessert, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a moment that feels as good as you imagined it would.
All In One Basket at Tacoma Boys
We’re confident your perfect (ish) summer picnic is just around the corner, and we would love to be part of it! You’ll find everything you know you need (and probably a few pleasant surprises) at your local Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce. From the basics to those specialty items that will keep your picnic fresh and unique, we’ve got you covered. Stop by today and fill your basket with high quality local products to make your summer picnic absolutely almost perfect!