The Picnic Principle
We can all admit that picnicking in the heart of summer seems like an invitation to dine in hell. But the allure of an evening picnic with friends (or alone, if you so desire) is a romantic one, with the promise of reflection and relaxation not so easily obtained in broad daylight.
If you don’t feel particularly inclined to personalize a go-to picnic set that’s just as eerie as you, pre-made baskets such as this one can be purchased. But if you’re still here, and you’ve read this far, it’s clear you’re here for the whole nine-yards.
Minimally, all you truly need for your outdoor set-up is:
- A container or basket to…well, contain everything
- Place settings (including dining wares, drinking vessels, and sanitary items such as napkins)
- A barrier such as a blanket or a comforter to separate you and your meal from unwanted diners
Baskets are probably the first image that pops up when thinking picnics, seeing they hold all your goodies and drinks. That being said, you want a sturdy vessel that isn’t flimsy or won’t get crushed.
Wicker baskets tend to be the standard material associated with summer. However, there are many other material options for your food storage including steel and recycled plastics.
And don’t forget that you can always think outside the norm; Any bag that’s wide enough and suitable to house food should not be dismissed!
Obtaining a vintage basket secures a well-maintained product’s survival outside of a landfill, and also opens an opportunity for individual expression through D.I.Y.ing. Before purchasing a brand-new container, peruse your local thrift stores, Goodwill (both in-store and online), and Etsy for your next best find. You don’t have to spend much either; if it’s over $50 USD, just leave it. Here are a few baskets that already have a particular charm to them.
Piecing your personalized basket together shouldn’t cost more than any pre-made set available for purchase on Amazon or a similar site. That being said, your interior dining components can rack up quickly if you aren’t paying proper attention.
The standard dinnerware items in a picnic basket look something like this:
- Plates, forks, knives, and spoons.
- Prep Knife / Cheese Knife
- Salt and Pepper shakers
- Napkins (usually reusable)
- Bottle opener
- Cutting board (or similar prep surface)
Regarding dining ware, there are a lot of innovative options to choose from depending on how often you plan to eat out. Steer clear of melamine, a chemical sometimes used in creating dinnerware. It is normally combined with formaldehyde to create melamine resin, which is used as a flame and heat retardant. Melamine has been connected to fatal instances already, specifically ones where infants have died due to exposure to this chemical.
Enamelware is also a material to be a little skeptical about, as it can corrode if subjected to boiling water or acidic liquids over prolonged periods of time.
One no-brainer renewable includes metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium because they’re lightweight, easy to wash, and can be used over and over again if properly maintained.
Aesthetically, getting an all-metal set would make your picnicking venture part rustic and part refined. However, invest in metal place settings only if you’re serving less than four (4) people. Otherwise, it isn’t entirely cost effective.
Check out this particular collection of items:
- Plates x2 = $16
- Utensils x2 = $12
- Cups = $22
- Salt/Pepper Mill = $10
- Cutting Board w/ Knife = $40
Longevity to Value Grade: A : Everything can be re-used again!
Bio-dinnerware is also good choices for outdoor festivities. They’re a great alternative to conventional paper plates and utensils, and in most cases, they can be recycled, composted, or broken down on their own over time, and are a good idea if expecting lots of people.
Different types of bio-dinnerware include bioplastic (corn-based), sugar cane, palm leaves, and of course bamboo, but these purchases are meant for single-use.
Luckily, some companies like Verterra sell a sample pack that more than delivers everything you would need for your day out!
- Plate Set x2 = $20
- Utensils x2 = $26
Total: $46, With other items: $118
Longevity to Value Grade: B- : Other than the Verterra plates, which can probably be re-used maybe once or twice, everything else can stay in your basket indefinitely.
If both of these routes disinterest you, and you want to keep it as simple as possible, Preserve sells kits that feature dinnerware made from 100% recycled plastic and can be recycled at the end of its lifespan. They come in a wide array of colours (midnight blue is quite fetching), and they are dishwasher safe! Packs include settings for 4, 20, 30, 40, and 60.
Lastly, you have lots of options for your napkins! If you know your way around a sewing machine, you can make reusable napkins from old band tees or cute Halloween fabrics. If D.I.Y.ing isn’t your thing, you can always purchase cotton napkins such as these or these–the possibilities are endless.
And that’s pretty much it! Grab an old blanket or comforter and head on outdoors! Bring beeswax candles for a tender touch, or if you don’t want to deal with open flames, try LED ones instead.
Oh, and don’t forget a good book, delicious food, and a nice cocktail to tie it all together. Have fun out there!