by Joanna Manero
Although the summer is winding down and coming to an end, Labor Day is always a nice last hoorah. It’s the perfect time to squeeze in one last picnic or trip to the lake or beach with the family. Before embarking on the family fun, check out these picnic tips to make sure everyone enjoys their break without too many trips to the bathroom. Don’t forget your food safety!
Keep your hands clean– It can be tricky to wash your hands in an outdoor setting. If facilities aren’t available, plan ahead and bring hand wipes or sanitizer to use before handling food.
Keep cool things cool– If you have cold items, like potato salad or condiments, keep them in the cooler. Keep the cooler in a shaded area and try to limit excessively opening the cooler to maintain cold temperature. Keep ice packs or ice cubes in the cooler and everything in an air tight container to avoid cooler water from getting in the food.
Don’t over-pack– Try to bring only the food you think you and your family will eat. Don’t overpack food, to avoid dealing with leftovers.
Leftovers– If you happen to have leftovers, place them in sealed containers and stick them in a cooler to avoid leaving them in the temperature danger zone, the temperature range in which bacteria grow most rapidly, for too long.
Save condiment packages– If you can, save a few small condiment packages from fast food restaurants or cafes to stick in your picnic basket. It’ll take up less room and will be easier to share.
Reverse pack your basket– Pack food items on the bottom of the basket with paper plates, silverware, and a tablecloth on top. This way you will have a place to put your food when you get to it.
Marinate– Make sure you marinate your food in the fridge and not on the counter at room temperature. Don’t reuse marinade as sauce to pour over meat. You can separate part of the marinade before using it on raw meat to pour over the finished meat later.
Keep raw meat items separate– If you can, assign them their own cooler to keep food from cross-contamination. If not, double bag meat items in air tight containers.
Always cook food thoroughly– If you are doing any grilling, make sure food is cooked all the way through. Although a meat thermometer is unlikely, cut the thickest piece of meat to evaluate if it is cooked thoroughly.
Avoid cross-contamination– Make sure you have different utensils for cooked and raw products.
I hope you found some of these tips fun and useful as you prepare for your last few family outings for the summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray! Most importantly, make the most of the summer before the kids go back to school.
Check out the following websites for more tips and tricks for the perfect picnic!
This blog was posted by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website on Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.