You may think of a summer picnic simply as a day out in the sun. But they are more than just that. They are a chance to share a meal with friends and family members. The benefits of this simple activity—eating with other people—are more profound than you’d think.

Eating together is an integral aspect of the Mediterranean diet. We follow the principles of the Mediterranean diet by including generous servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in our meals. But a diet is more than just food. The word is derived from the Greek word ‘dieta’ which means ‘way of living’.  

Since social eating is an essential aspect of the Mediterranean diet, we urge you to have more meals with friends and family members. Summer picnics are a great way to do that. They generally turn out to be relaxing, easy, and great fun. But if you want to make them even more interesting, convenient, and fun-filled, it makes sense to prepare. 

There are four things you need to look at to have a great picnic: location, equipment, entertainment (games), and food. Here’s a compilation of ideas to address all four factors. 

Read on to find out everything you need to know to have the ultimate summer picnic experience.

5 Fresh Places for Picnics

You’ve probably had picnics in parks and near lakes.  If you’d like to try something different this summer, here are five new locations to explore:

Under the stars

Head out to your favorite spot where you can get a clear view of the night sky. You can identify constellations and have deep conversations. Maybe even share some ghost stories. Be sure to bring a flashlight with you on this night-time picnic.

Airport

Find a relatively quiet spot near the airport and enjoy watching airplanes take-off and land. A great time to do this is in the evening when the sun isn’t so bright, and you can easily look up at the airplanes in the sky. 

The Beach

Enjoy your day in the sun as you hear the sound of waves in the background. Maybe even walk into the sea and wet your feet. Of course, you could actually go for a swim if you like. Follow this with a nice lunch. You’ll have to be careful of the sand. Wash your hands and forearms thoroughly before you start eating. Also, keep your food covered at all times you’re not eating it. Take these precautions and you’ll be able to enjoy a wonderful meal on the beach. 

Sculpture Park

The first thing you need to do is find a public art gallery or sculpture park that allows you to bring food with you. Once you’ve got that sorted, indulge in art, food, and great company. It will probably be the most artistic picnic you’ve ever had.

Secret Spot

Do some research, ask your friends, or simply explore the great outdoors and find a spot that very few know about. Since it’s not a popular picnic spot, you can be assured you’ll have a lot of privacy. Such a spot might be a little difficult to find, but if you do, it will be worth the effort. 

6 Ultimate Picnic Games

What’s a picnic without some games? Here are 6 picnic games that are easy to play and don’t require heavy equipment or elaborate set-ups:

Bocce

It’s a classic picnic game in which you earn points by aiming to get closest to a target. It’s closely related to horseshoes and curling. All you need is a bocce ball set, which is quite easy to carry. The best part about bocce is that you don’t even need a flat surface to play it. You can play it anywhere: flat earth, uneven ground, grass, or even concrete.

Spikeball

This is an extremely portable game with very simple rules. Two teams of two players each stand around a circular bouncy net. Their objective is to use a maximum of three hits and spike the ball into the net for the other team to then return. The only equipment required is a lightweight net and a ball. Spikeball can be played in the backyard, at a park, on the beach, or even in the pool. 

Marshmallow on a Spoon Relay

This one doesn’t require any special equipment. All you need is a few spoons and a bag of marshmallows. The objective is to carry the marshmallow on a spoon for a distance without dropping it. If you drop the marshmallow, you start again. The first one to reach the finish line wins. The best part is you can eat the marshmallow after the game is over (if you didn’t drop it, that is). 

Disc Golf

Similar to regular golf, the idea is to get the disk to the target in the least number of throws possible. All you need is a disk or Frisbee, and a target, which can be anything. You could use soccer balls, blankets, or even a hat as a target. It’s easy, cheap, and simple. No wonder people love it so much. 

Croquet

Compared to the other games on this list, croquet requires a couple of things to be played properly: a relatively flat surface and some space. The equipment is quite portable and easy to carry, so that’s convenient. You can buy a new croquet set in a store, or try garage sales for a low-cost version.

Close up of playing croquet at a picnic.

Water Balloon Toss

If it’s a hot day, and you don’t mind getting a little wet, you should try water balloon toss. Fill up a few water balloons, divide into pairs, and stand at least three feet apart. Now toss the water balloon to your partner, who attempts to catch it. If the water balloon explodes, you’re out. If they catch it, then you each step back a foot and they toss it back to you. Repeat this process until the balloon explodes. The last pair standing wins. 

10 Essential Picnic Tools

A picnic can require many things, some more obvious than others. Here’s the ultimate list of equipment for a great picnic:

Blanket

Keep in mind that every picnic usually involves a little bit of mess, be it food, dirt, or an accidental spill. Consider bringing a blanket you can toss directly into the laundry, like cotton throws, tablecloths, or towels. 

Place Settings

Bring a basket with a flat lid, so you can also use it as a tabletop. You can make your picnic environmentally friendly by bringing lightweight, and re-usable or compostable plates as well as cups and napkins. 

The 4-in-1 Utensil

Carrying a fork, a spoon, a knife, and a bottle opener separately can be a pain. They get misplaced and you can never find them when you need them. Instead, bring a 4-in-1 camping utensil.

Cutting Board

You won’t appreciate this until you try it. Aim for a cutting board that’s small and lightweight.  Once you’ve tried it for cutting cheese or sausage, you’ll never go back.

Camping Chairs

Blankets are great, but what if the ground is wet, uneven, or there just isn’t enough space for food and people? Considering bringing a few camping chairs, especially ones that are lightweight and foldable.

Cooler

This is a must-have, especially if you’ve got perishable items on the menu. 

Condiments Kit

You might need a little something extra to season your meal. A few things to pack in your condiment kit may include: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, lemon wedges, or tabasco sauce, in case you like things spicy.

Thermos

As you bask in the hot sun, you’ll love sipping a cool drink of lemonade, iced tea, or a fresh fruit smoothie. A thermos will help you keep that drink cool for hours. If you don’t have too many cool drinks to carry, you could replace your cooler with a thermos and save a lot of space in your car. For those of you who love hot beverages, you can also use it to keep coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. 

Water Bottle

In most parks and regular picnic spots, you can find a water fountain somewhere in the vicinity. But sometimes, there just isn’t one nearby. Avoid the risk of getting dehydrated in the sun by keeping a filled water bottle with you.

First Aid Kit

You may not need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Pack a small pouch with antiseptic, Band-Aids, sunscreen, and aspirin just in case. 

2 Easy-to-prepare Picnic Meals

Good food is an essential part of a great picnic. Wouldn’t it be great if that food were nutritious and easy to cook? With just a little effort, you can prepare a fantastic meal that’ll appeal to your taste buds while nourishing your body. Here are two Performance Kitchen meal hacks from Artful Desperado to try for your next picnic:

So-Cal Summer Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 Performance Kitchen So Cal Kale & Bean bowl
  • Mixed greens (preferably baby kale, fresh sorrel, and parsley)
  • Fresh mint and oregano
  • ¼ cup pickled cabbage (substitute with kimchi if you like it spicy)
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • Edible flowers to garnish (we love calendula for its bitter kick)
  • Olive oil, lime juice, and sea salt for seasoning

Method:

  1. Cook the Performance Kitchen bowl according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, add as many greens, mint, and oregano as you like.
  3. Add the cooked Performance Kitchen meal to the bowl.
  4. Top with avocado, pickled cabbage, and a generous drizzle of olive oil along with a squirt of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with edible flowers.
  5. Stir the bowl just before eating so the dressing in the So Cal Kale & Bean bowl coats the greens too. This meal serves 2.

Orange Mango Chicken Salad 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Performance Kitchen Orange Mango Chicken bowls
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. thinly sliced ginger
  • ½ tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 small napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges (optional)
  • Garlic oil (optional)

Method:

  1. Cook Performance Kitchen meals according to package instructions.
  2. Pour oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Once heated, toss in the ginger and chili flakes, stirring lightly.
  3. Add cooked Performance Kitchen meals. Continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes on low heat so the chicken gets a bit caramelized.
  4. Toss in the cabbage and fry for another minute (avoid overcooking the cabbage).
  5. Let it cool down to room temperature and store in a giant mason jar before popping it into your picnic-ready cooler bag. If you’re feeling fancy, serve with a lime slice and a drizzle of garlic oil. This meal serves 4.

These are our top essentials to make a great picnic. If we left anything out, please let us know by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you!

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