9 Ways to Save on Picnics

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Picnics and summer go hand in hand. Whether it’s a cookout in the backyard with neighbors or sandwiches in the park with the family, a picnic is a chance to enjoy the warmth of the outdoors while feasting upon summer fare. While picnics are generally casual, by the time you add up the cost of food and beverages, disposable serving-ware, ice to keep things cold and charcoal to make things hot, the costs involved in a simple afternoon in the great outdoors can really add up!

Here are some suggestions for keeping the cost of picnicking down and the enjoyment factor up:

  1. Ask guests to contribute some of the essentials. Even if they don’t wish to cook, guests can supply ice, beverages, serving-ware, chips and pretzels, charcoal, buns for hot dogs and hamburgers, ice cream, marshmallows or something from a bakery for dessert — any auxiliary items to complete the meal. They could also provide some of the fun by bringing items like bubbles, kites, buckets and shovels, wagons, horseshoes, badminton, volleyball and net, croquet, beanbag toss, baseballs and mitts and board games.
  2. Plan your menu according to sales, not just convention. Choose burgers over chicken if ground beef is a better buy when you’re shopping. Keeping an open mind about your picnic fare will enable you to provide a greater abundance of food while keeping your expenses under control.
  3. Stock up on condiments and non-perishables when they’re on sale. Ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce have long shelf lives. These items as well as napkins, paper plates and plastic cups can be stored for use during picnic season.
  4. If you don’t mind some dish washing, consider using non-disposable storage containers, plates and utensils you can wash and reuse. Disposable items, while convenient, are pricey. Also consider enlisting some of your older cloth tablecloths rather than purchasing plastic or paper ones that tend to blow around anyway and can’t be reused.
  5. Develop a repertoire of picnic-friendly recipes that are easily prepared, kept at an appropriate temperature and transported if necessary. Being familiar with a recipe will make it easier to buy the appropriate ingredients in the proper quantities. Also, if you’ve made a dish before, it is more likely that it will turn out as expected, eliminating the need to make a wasteful second batch to replace a flop.
  6. Think outside the grill. An all-salads picnic, for instance, will reduce the costs associated with pricier ingredients like meats. Your family or guests are likely to find a cold meal especially appealing on a hot day. It will also take advantage of ingredients that are abundant and inexpensive in the Summer, like fruits and vegetables.
  7. Instead of purchasing bottled water, fill pitchers from your kitchen faucet and store in the refrigerator or in ice chests. Provide plenty of fresh ice and your guests can pour their own ice water all day long at minimal cost.
  8. Buy soft drinks in 2-liter bottles and store in the refrigerator or ice chests. On a hot day, they’ll be consumed long before they go flat and there will be less waste from those who leave partial cans of soda to go to waste.
  9. Fill a kiddie pool rather than let a sprinkler run for hours. A running sprinkler uses a lot more water than filling up a small pool which keeps the little ones just as cool.

Good food and fun in the sun doesn’t have to cost a lot. A bit of planning, creativity and practical thinking can help you have affordable, enjoyable picnics all Summer long.

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