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Picnic ideas and easy picnic food

When is National Picnic Week 2021?

National Picnic Week 2022 runs from 18 to 26 June.

Planning for your picnic

Picnics are easy to organise and fun for all the family. You can have them almost anywhere; the beach, the forest, a National Trust site, a local park or even your own garden.

How do you prepare for a picnic?
Preparation is essential for a successful picnic. As all good Boy Scouts know, you need to prepare for all eventualities and as every mother will tell you, it's better to have a hundred extra food bags and not need them than to need a hundred extra food bags and not have them.

What are typical picnic foods?
Anything that can be eaten cold and is going to pack up and travel well is ideal for a picnic. So, sausages, pies, Scotch eggs, chicken drumsticks, salads, and sandwiches are all great for family picnic ideas.

What food goes in the picnic basket?
Whatever goes in your picnic basket, the important thing is that it is best eaten cold. Picnic food needs to be prepared ahead of time, ideally the night before if you want to avoid rushing in the morning.

We've got some great picnic ideas for you. We've got recipes for scotch eggs, quiches, homemade hummus, flatbreads, sausages rolls, and turkey club sandwiches. And of course, don't forget dessert, we've also got simple picnic recipes for rock cakes and flapjacks.

What makes a good picnic?
A good picnic is a time for families and friends to get together and enjoy some delicious food surrounded by nature. So one of the most important factors is to try and reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible so that future generations will be able to enjoy nature the way we do.

Reusable cups, plates and cutlery rather than plastic will help keep your rubbish to a minimum. Also, you can use them again and again, so there's no need to waste money rebuying.

Use resealable containers wherever possible and keep bottles and packets sealed when not in use, as picnic food is like a homing beacon for bugs!

What should I pack for a picnic?
As well as food there are some essentials you need to take on your picnic. Here's our quick picnic checklist:

  • A cooler to keep your food and drink from spoiling
  • A bottle opener
  • Condiments - mustard and ketchup
  • Napkins
  • Baby wipes - they're great for cleaning up messy adults as well
  • Hand sanitiser - it’s the new normal now
  • The all-important picnic blanket!
  • A simple first aid kit (plasters, antibacterial wipes, bite and sting relief)
  • Suncream
  • A bag for rubbish

What is the best time for a picnic?
That depends on you and when you want to eat. Picnics are obviously best in the summer, so if you're combining your picnic with a country walk, it's a good idea to plan on finding a shady spot for about 1 o'clock.

Prepare for the weather
The great British summer can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the weather forecast - there’s nothing worse than being rained out! Large umbrellas double as parasols, so are useful to have on hand for any kind of weather. Bring plenty of water so everyone can stay hydrated - including any dogs that might be joining you. And for those who suffer from hay fever, don’t forget to take your tablets!

How can I make a picnic more fun?
Just in case, picnic food, sun and good company aren't enough for you, we got a few ideas to make your picnic even more memorable.

Cards and board games - Once you're done, clear up the picnic food and use the blanket to set up your favourite game. Don't be too competitive though, the idea's to have a nice time not have everyone cursing you for having a hotel on Mayfair and Park Lane.

Water balloon fights - As long as it's a nice hot day who doesn't enjoy a water fight? Remember to pre-fill them as you don’t want to be using your drinking water. Just make sure you pick up the balloons, with the rest of your rubbish, when you leave.

Leaf collecting - Picnics are great as they get the kids away from tablets and TVs and get them closer to nature. You can set them tasks to collect different leaves and have them learn while they are playing.

Organise running around games - It, Stuck-in-the-mud, Tag, whatever you call them, they are a great way to burn off calories after one too many Scotch eggs.

How do you have a picnic with a dog?
If you’re planning on bringing your four-legged friends, check and make sure that dogs are permitted first (some parks might have restrictions). If they can come, double-check to see whether they need to be kept on a lead. Failing to restrain your dog in areas with livestock, for example, could result in fines, prosecution and worse - it’s not worth the risk.

Do dogs like picnics?
Dogs love being outside and running around but they might get bored while you're sitting down and enjoying your picnic. Remember a bowl for water, some dog-friendly treats so they don’t feel left out, a toy to keep them busy, pet-safe sun cream (dogs can get sunburn too!), and of course poo bags.

If you check to make sure your dog is allowed to join you before heading out, there’s no reason to leave them alone in your vehicle; dogs die in hot cars.

Finding the perfect picnic spot

It’s important to think about who is coming to your picnic when picking a spot. Being near a toilet is critical for family gatherings, especially if little ones are coming. It’s worth checking to see where all the public toilets are in the UK before deciding on your destination.

Picnic parking

It’s also useful to look into what car parking facilities are available and how far they are from where you want to go. Can everyone in your group manage that distance? Do you have buggies or wheelchairs to think about?

Some car parks will be free, while others may have a pay and display machine that requires change or an app to make a payment. You can make sure you don’t get caught out by searching online first.

Handy hints for the perfect picnic

Don’t just head for the first spot you see - there are things to consider, like whether animals are grazing nearby (in which case you should head somewhere else)! Other useful things to consider for picking a good picnic spot include making sure you have shade from the sun and that you’re not blocking paths or thoroughfares. You should also choose a location with even ground for sitting on and laying out your blanket.

Last but not least

Always leave your picnic area clean and tidy when you go home. Litter can injure wildlife, so make sure you clean up all your rubbish, unused food and dog mess, and dispose of it responsibly by either putting it in the bins provided or taking it home with you.

Picnics are a wonderful way to spend a day outdoors with family and friends - we hope you stay safe, have fun and enjoy this National Picnic Week!

Picnic food ideas

Here's a selection of RSPCA Assured recipes to make sure your picnic goes well. We can't guarantee the weather will be good though.

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