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The Fun Part of Picnics

The Food

For a proper picnic, you don’t take anything that needs to be cooked.

If you want to put sausages in that you’re going to cook while you’re eating al fresco, this isn’t a picnic.

It’s a barbecue, which is another great Aussie tradition but not what we’re talking about here.

Food safety is important, so if you do take cold (cooked!) chicken nibbles on your picnic, then you will need to keep this deep in the esky along with an ice pack or two.

The same applies to anything involving meat, eggs and dairy products (vegans, you’re allowed to feel a bit smug here!).

Avoid anything sloppy or runny that needs utensils to eat it – finger food is the order of the day.

Sandwiches are always winners, from the humble Vegemite sammie through to elaborate concoctions involving cold chicken, camembert, cranberry jelly, walnuts and mayonnaise.

Fruit and raw vegetables, with or without dip, are great eaten outdoors, as are nuts.

If you want a picnic food that’s more reminiscent of something the Famous Five would do, then try hard-boiled eggs.

For sweet stuff, cupcakes, scones and muffins are easier to manage than larger items that need to be cut up.

You often need to provide less food for a picnic meal than you do when you’re having an ordinary meal at home if you have younger children.

This is because outdoor locations are a bit of a novelty, and children always seem to be more enthusiastic about running around and exploring than eating.

If you have packed too much by mistake, then don’t throw it away, even if there’s a handy rubbish bin nearby.

The children will probably announce that they’re hungry on the way home, and you can just produce the food again.

In this writer’s experience, attempts to bring a thermos flask full of hot coffee or tea have never really worked. What does work is cold drinks.

To get a really icy drink, freeze a bottle of water or whatever you fancy in a plastic bottle overnight (remember that water expands as it freezes, so don’t fill the bottle right up).

Put this in the esky. It will gradually melt (and help keep your food cool), and by the time you’re ready to drink it, it will be deliciously icy cold water rather than solid ice.

Two main safety hazards to beware of with picnics are sunburn and insects.

T+aking plenty of sunscreen and sitting in the shade takes care of the first, and keeping food in containers that can be sealed easily Tupperware style helps deter the second.

However, it wouldn’t be a real Gold Coast picnic without ants joining in, so turn them into part of the fun – maybe you can put out a crust or a spoonful of jam for them to share (and save some other crusts to give to the local birds).

And if you’ve planned your picnic but the weather turns vile when you didn’t expect it to?

Don’t give up – just have an indoor picnic on the floor of the dining room (don’t forget to invite teddy bears).

Have fun!

The Fun Part of Picnics  
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