3 Picnic Menus
For a Hike: Pack a Little
Since you’ll be on the move, lighten your knapsack’s load with handheld food that doesn’t need an ice pack.
- Prosciutto and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches
- Frozen grapes
- Licorice twists
- Store water in a collapsible bottle. This container is 80 percent lighter than a hard-plastic one. Freeze it first so it will keep cool. (Platypus one-liter bottle, $9, llbean.com.)
- Use sleek food storage. Go with a plastic bowl that flattens accordion-style when empty, leaving less backpack bulk. (Four-cup containers, $17 for two, tupperware.com.)
- Pack crushable snacks in a Ziploc bag. Fill it with chips, then slip a straw into the top of the nearly closed bag and inflate. Remove the straw and seal to create a cushion.
- Wrap your sandwich in a double-duty sleeve. This reusable liner multitasks as a cheery gingham place mat. (Wrap-N-Mat Wrap, $10, wrap-n-mat.com.)
- Clean up responsibly. Clip this tiny gadget onto your bag so the only trail you leave is footprints. (Sunshine Kids 12-bag dispenser, $4 for three, bedbathandbeyond.com.)
- If you plan to wander off the beaten path in search of the perfect lunch spot, pack some colored chalk so you can tag trees or rocks along the way and find your way back. (A compass is a good idea, too.)
For the Beach: Pack a Little More
Dragging a cooler across the sand is a real, well, drag. Instead, carry a light yet satisfying assortment of foods in a modern insulated basket.
- Pack food in biodegradable takeout boxes. The lids of these containers shield your food from sand-filled gusts of wind. (Unfortunately, this item is no longer available.)
- Carry drinks in a handy tote. The same material that makes wet suits insulating keeps a six-pack of 12- to 20-ounce cans or bottles nice and cold. (Six-pack tote, $23, builtny.com.)
- Use multipurpose utensils. With a fork on one end and a spoon on the other, these disposable sporks are made of eco-friendly bamboo. (Sporks, $10 for 24, branchhome.com.)
- Set up camp on a portable blanket. This large throw has a water-resistant backing and folds up to reveal a built-in handle. (Picnic Time blanket, $28, freshpicnic.com for similar styles.)
*Try Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew ($5 for a four-pack) and Brooklyn Brewery Pennant Ale ($8 for a six-pack).
For a Concert in the Park: Pack a Lot
Create your very own splendor in the grass by setting up a lavish spread that includes all the comforts of home.
- Goat Cheese Spread and crackers
- Sweet and Spicy Chicken
- Pasta Salad With Asparagus and Lemon
- Oatmeal-Raspberry Bars
- White wine*
- Avoid a soggy sitting area. Layer a waterproof pad underneath a pretty quilt or comforter. (Picnic at Ascot mat, $34, cooking.com for similar styles.)
- Encourage lounging. Set out weather-resistant pillows. (Beachcomber outdoor pillows, $24 each, westelm.com for similar styles.)
- Create a buffet. Why place the spread on the ground when setting up this knee-high table takes mere seconds? Bonus: The 30-inch wooden top rolls up into its own bag. (Table, $40, crateandbarrel.com.)
- Sip in style. Pack these shatterproof glasses with removable stems. (GSI Outdoors stemware, $7 each, 800-704-4474 for locations.)
- Put your meal on wheels. At evening’s end, cart everything away in this rolling trolley that will fold compactly at home. (Reisenthel trolley, $25, touchofeurope.net.)
*Try the 2007 Clean Slate Riesling ($11).