1. MENU: Your best bet for picnic fare is going to be food that is made in advance without requiring ingredients that will make the food soggy (i.e., sauces). Also take into consideration the utensils and dishware that will be required to eat it. Foods simply requiring a fork or your hands might just be the best option!
2. APPETIZERS: Bring along bite-size snacks that can be easily divided up and handed to guests as they arrive. Martha suggests offering nuts as they are healthier than potato chips and are not easily crushed. I would also recommend dividing up the snacks into individual portions prior to leaving for the picnic, so your job is a bit easier.
3. MAIN DISHES: Martha recommends bringing open-faced sandwiches on a baguette or other hardy bread. That may require more work to travel with the sandwiches if you prepare them in advance. I personally enjoy the idea of a casserole (carried in a heat-safe tote, of course!) for a picnic option.
4. SALADS: Traditional leaf lettuce salads tend to wilt in heat, so consider making another type of salad. Pasta and bean salad are a good alternative, along with salads made of vegetables and grains.
5. PREP WORK: Do all of your meal's prep work at home (i.e., chopping, mixing, etc.).
6. CONTAINERS: Most of us tend to use single-use items like plastic wrap and throwaway containers for outdoor functions to simplify the clean up task. However, a more earth-friendly option would include using your own lightweight bakeware, tin containers, parchment, and twine. They will make a pretty addition to your table!
7. TABLEWARE: Pull out your camping or patio dishes and use them for your picnic. Lightweight enamelware or plastic break-proof dishes are a sensible alternative to paper or plastic plates, cutlery, and glasses.
8. PACKING: So now that you have all of your food and supplies for the picnic, how are you going to transport everything? Martha suggests using two large totes; fill one with food that is okay at room-temperature and the other bag should be insulated to hold any items that need to remain cold. I would recommend bringing along other reuseable bags for miscellaneous supplies and dirty dishes.
Martha offers a good suggestion for packing your food: pack a layer at the bottom of the bag, then place a small cutting board (or similar item) over it before adding a second layer of food. This will give you support within the bag, and the cutting board can act as a "table" for items at your picnic area.
9. EXTRAS: Don't forget to bring along cloth napkins, serving utensils, salt and pepper shakers, extra tea/dish towels, and a large towel or blanket to sit on.
I don't know about you, but reading Martha's suggestions for a picnic have me thinking about planning one myself! To see the original article from Martha Stewart, click here.