Planning the perfect picnic

Read on for tips on organising the perfect summer picnic and to find out how to WIN a beautiful picnic set or hundreds of pounds worth of Laura Ashley gift cards.

Seasonal British Picnic

One of our delicious seasonal British picnic meal plans. You can win the beautiful Laura Ashley rug, the picnic basket and the tablecloth if you register before August 21st.

It isn't a proper British summer till you've been on a picnic - there's nothing better than eating good food outdoors with friends or family, enjoying the elusive British sun while you can.

“A picnic that relies less on supermarket short cuts and more on homemade high- lights is the recipe for a memorable event”Whether your picnic involves a short stroll to a city park or a more ambitious trip into rolling countryside, it helps to be prepared, and while you can't legislate for the weather, a bit of planning goes a long way towards setting up the perfect picnic.

If the weather forecast's promising, then you can probably afford to invest a bit of kitchen time ahead of the event, meaning a picnic that relies less on supermarket short cuts and more on homemade highlights. That's the recipe for a memorable event.

WIN beautiful picnic accessories and gift cards from Laura Ashley

Before you plan your picnic, make sure you're registered as a Resourceful Cook user. Every user registered by the 21st August will automatically get entered in a draw to win a beautiful picnic set (a Laura Ashley 'Hagan' blanket, a 'Cotswold' picnic basket, and a traditional red-and-white checked gingham table cloth) or win Laura Ashley gift cards worth £20 and £100. All you need to do is register as a Resourceful Cook user here.

The food!

A bit of sunshine, a decent view, good company. They're all vital for a successful picnic, but the biggest part of the equation is the food! If you're planning to make a bit of an occasion of things and provide more than sandwiches and crisps, you'll want prepare-ahead, easy-to-transport food that will leave your guests feeling a little spoilt.

“We've composed some delicious picnic meal-plans that rely on traditional picnic fare like classic British sandwich fillings and homemade tarts”We've composed some delicious picnic meal-plans that achieve just that. They rely on traditional picnic fare (classic British sandwich fillings, homemade tarts, and delicious summertime desserts, like jellied berries and clotted cream).

They're all straightforward to prepare on the morning prior to a picnic, or even the day before, and, if you pick one you like you'll find getting organised couldn't be easier - just two clicks will generate you a shopping list showing all the ingredients you're going to need for your perfect picnic. We've got seasonal British picnics for four people, six people and eight people.

We've got individual recipes for fantastic picnic food too: Try our Spinach & Feta Tarts or Red Onion, Tomato & Feta Tarts (both serve four). If your picnic's going to be a more intimate event then you could try these recipes for two: Chicken & Rice Salad with Chilli Mayonnaise, Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Frittata, Spring Salmon Nicoise Salad, Tomato, Red Pepper & Cucumber Couscous, Tuna Nicoise Salad.

Finally, tips on what to pack and where to pick

To start out, you might want to make a list and check things off as you assemble them for your picnic - there's nothing worse than trying to open a bottle of wine with cutlery, while the corkscrew sits at home on the kitchen table.

You'll want a few things for comfort: picnic blanket and perhaps some cushions. You'll need plates, napkins, and glasses at minimum, cutlery too probably. Disposable tableware is perfect if you're looking for an easy clean-up, but we like the old fashioned approach - china clinking in a basket - less waste!

Jellied BerriesDepending on how cautious you are by nature, you might want to plan for a few eventualities: sun block, anti-bacterial gel/hand wipes insect repellent, bin bags and an umbrella!

If you're planning a marathon picnic on a hot day, be sure to bring enough water and liquids to stay hydrated. After lounging in the sun for a few hours (and after a few glasses of rosé) the last thing on your mind will be whether you've drank enough water, but if there's a bottle of water to hand you'll likely take advantage of it.

A nice picnic basket, like the one we're giving away, will usually transport most of what you'll need for a picnic for two or four people, but drop an ice pack in it if you don't want your wine warm and your sandwiches sweating. One bright idea is to freeze 3/4 full water bottles (squeeze them slightly before screwing the lid on, to allow for the water expanding when it freezes) and use them as ice packs to pack your chilled food. Once they thaw, you'll have refreshing ice cold water to hand.

For larger picnics or for keeping chilled foods in good condition for more than an hour or two, requires a cool box. It's stating the obvious, but if they'll cope with things sitting on them, then make sure you pack what you'll need last (like desserts) at the bottom. Otherwise pack things according to fragility.

“be nice: leave your picnic spot in the same condition you found it (or better), ready for the next picnicker”But be sensible about the food you bring, if it needs to be chilled and has been out for more than two hours (one hour if it's exceptionally warm), throw it away just to be on the safe side. Store the cooler in the shade, if there's any available.

Picking the perfect picnic spot is all down to personal preference, however, you may want to pick a place with a little shade or shelter to have the option to get out of the sun (or, heaven forbid, rain!). And be nice: leave your picnic spot in the same condition you found it (or better), ready for the next picnicker.

Bon appétit!

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