What items do I need for picnics & outdoor dining?
There's no better way to brighten your mood than heading outside with family or friends for an alfresco feast. Whether in your backyard, local park, beach or camping down the track, you're sure to get a kick out of dining under a blue sky and soaking up the sunshine.
But, before you set off, it's important to make sure you've got the right gear. There's nothing worse than plonking yourself down on the perfect spot, only to realise you've left the cutlery at home or you've got nothing to sit on. We've created the checklist that will help you gather all the necessary items so your outdoor dining is nothing less than an Instagram-worthy occasion.
A good, thick picnic blanket will help ensure you and your fellow diners are comfortable if you're setting up your meal on the ground (and, let's not forget, it will also help keep the ants at bay). If you have more than the two people, it's best to pack an extra blanket or two.
We recommend including a few simple cushions in your picnic swag. They'll help you stay cosy, while avoiding the aches and pains that might come with sitting on the ground for awhile, and they'll prove indispensable if the desire to take a siesta grabs you after lunch.
Plastic or melamine dinnerware is the sensible inclusion for outdoor dining. It can be used many times over, and usually popped straight in the dishwasher when you return home. Plates, bowls and utensils are available in a wide array of colours and styles, which can help liven the mood and make your outdoor adventure feel fun (especially for the kids in tow).
Plastic food containers help you seal, carry and serve picnic goodies like sandwiches, cheeses, meats, breads, salads and other snacks. Plastic bowls and serving utensils will let you dish up a memorable meal for guests, no matter what the surrounds. Re-sealable plastic pots and bottles can house your sauces and dressings, while thermos flasks will keep soups, teas or coffees ready to enjoy - and, whatever you do, don't forget the salt and pepper!
Similarly, reusable plastic glasses are a smart addition to your checklist, and they don't produce unnecessary waste or the temptation to leave your rubbish on the ground. Tumblers, beer glasses, wine glasses and champagne flutes will travel well with you on picnics, barbeques, outdoor festivals and other adventures, replicating the elegance of their glass counterparts. Materials like melamine are sturdy and almost unbreakable.
As well as your insulated food or drink containers, consider a cooler box or cooler bag, especially if you're planning an extended day outdoors or on a camping trip. These handy travel bags will go a long way in keeping your food and drinks cooler and fresher across the course of your day or night, and they're durable enough to weather the elements.
Outdoor dining can get messy, even if you're careful. Sometimes, making the mess can be half the fun! Ensure the cleaning up is a breeze with tablecloths that can spread across a recreational table at the park, or your own outdoor dining furniture.
Serviettes or napkins give all your guests an easy means to stay neat and clean while they're tucking into a delicious feast, with disposable wet wipes acting as a backup in the case of 'extra enthusiastic' eating or drinking. If you're not in your own backyard, make sure you return your outdoor setting to its original condition before you return home.
Australians know better than anyone that life outdoors comes with its risks. It's important to make sure you and your loved ones stay protected from the elements - and nasty creepies and crawlies! - so you can just relax and enjoy yourself.
Top of the list is sunscreen. UV rays can be ruthless, and shade isn't enough to keep you protected all day. Pack a reliable sunscreen, and enough for several applications. Add to that insect repellant to keep the bugs away, and a basic first aid kit - including items like aspirin, antiseptic cream, ointment and bandages - to guard you and your family against surprise accidents or injuries. If anyone dining with you has severe allergies, you might want to take extra precautions, such as carry an EpiPen.
Hydration is essential, so ensure a plentiful supply of water in a handy drink bottle that keeps your liquids cool and ready to refresh whenever thirst strikes. And remember that cooler box? It's ideal to carry important medicines that might need to stay out of the heat but should be by your side if you're dining away from home.
Last, but definitely not least, do your homework if you're dining outdoors in a public space or shared area for from the local council or authorities. There may be guidelines about barbequing and open flames, or serving alcohol. Play it safe then you can relax and enjoy the pleasures of dining in the great outdoors.