Summer time and the living is easy. It’s about late nights around a campfire, simple cooking, trips to the beach, and of course the summer staple we all love—picnics. You can have a picnic in the backyard, at the beach, or at your favourite conservation area. The most enjoyable way to host a picnic is with friends or family, but whomever you invite, there are ways to make your picnic experience even better.
Before you head to the great outdoors, take a moment to appreciate why we love nature so much and how we can protect it for many picnics to come. Create less waste, use less stuff, and leave less of a footprint. I can guarantee, your picnic will be richer for it.
- Choose your location wisely. The backyard is sometimes easiest, as you don’t have far to go. Many local parks provide picnic tables to get you up off the ground. Provincial parks and conservation areas offer a scenic setting beside lakes, rivers or forests. They all have their perks and drawbacks, so decide which makes most sense. Or try them all!
- Ditch the dollar store plastic and stock your hamper with finds from your local thrift store. Grab an old blanket, and some mismatched plates, cups, and cutlery to complete your picnic staples without the waste.
- Make it romantic with candles. Not only will candles set the mood, but citronella candles send unwanted bugs packing.
- Up the al fresco experience without unwanted guests. If you would rather dine without ants at the table, try one of these methods to deter them;
- Sprinkle a line of chalk, talcum powder or cornstarch around your picnic blanket. Supposedly ants won’t cross the line.
- Rub cinnamon or dryer sheets on your table legs. Ants will steer clear of your party.
- Ants don’t like to get wet, so another option is to put your picnic table legs in bowls of water.
- Distract other unwanted pests with a treat just outside your picnic area. Sugar water, a glass of red wine, or watermelon rinds placed just beyond your picnic will attract bugs away from the main action. Bye bye flies!
- Cover your food and drinks so that the bugs can’t get at them. A simple colander will do, if you don’t have food domes. No one wants a wasp in their wine, so covered cups are a must too.
- Repel bugs right off the hope with bug repellent. If you’re out of the store bought kind, know that vinegar, lemon, and garlic are all delicious in a salad, but less than appealing for biting mosquitoes. You could even rub a slice of lemon on your wrists to smell lemon fresh and keep mosquito-free.
- Picnics should be easy. Choose seasonal food from local sources. They even reduce your carbon footprint!
- Cherries, raspberries and peas are in season at your local farm stand or market, and have no packaging to dispose of. Eat them out of hand for a simple treat to fuel your hike!
- Eggs picked up from a local farm make for a fresh picnic staple—hard boiled eggs anyone?
- Flavours come alive with herbs. A Caprese salad couldn’t be easier with tomatoes, boccocini and fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If your parsley is plentiful, try a tabouli salad instead.
- Stop at the local bakery for a loaf of fresh bread. Tear off hunks from a baguette and enjoy it with delicate prosciutto or locally cured meats to dine in simple, yet delicious style.
- Ditch the sugary pop for flavoured water. Throw lemon slices and mint into a pitcher and enjoy a delicious and nutritious way to refresh. No pop cans or juice boxes to worry about recycling with your own homemade refreshments.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy. Picnic season is here!