Summer Picnic Guide and Checklist - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Summer Picnic Guide and Checklist

Summer is perfect time for picnics -- and who doesn't love eating outdoors on a nice cool summer day? Fresh air, hamburgers, potato salad .... yum! But planning a picnic involves the proper handling of food so your picnic doesn't end up a disaster. The following tips can help make picnicking fun and safe.  

  • Make sure you keep food in coolers when transporting it to the picnic site. Cold temperatures make sure bacteria can't grow and spoil it. Keep the cooler out of the sun and avoid opening the lid too often. If you bring along a lot of beverages, use a separate cooler for the bottles and cans.
  • Serve the food immediately and remember not to keep food out of the refrigerator or cooler for more than two hours. If the air temperature is 85 degrees or hotter, keep food out less than one hour.
  • Be sure to take plenty of clean serving spoons and forks so each dish has its own; if one dish spoils, the bacteria won't be moved to another dish through a contaminated utensil.
  • If you are cooking hamburgers, grill them until they are well done and the juices run clear when they are poked with a fork. Red, juicy burgers can grow bacteria.
  • Pack clean, soapy sponges, cloths and wet towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.

What to Bring

Make sure you have everything you need before setting off with your cooler!!

Protect Yourself

  • Bug spray and insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats and sunglasses

Pick a Good Location

  • Pick a place that offers shade (perfect for keeping the cooler cold)
  • Lawn chairs (if necessary)
  • Plenty of blankets to spread on the ground if there are no picnic tables

Make Sure You Have the Right Supplies

  • Water and non-alcoholic beverages to keep from getting dehydrated in the summer sun
  • Plenty of ice to keep the cooler and food cool
  • Plenty of snack foods (chips, nuts, veggies, etc) if you're planning an all-day picnic
  • Corkscrew (if bringing wine)
  • Napkins, moist towlettes, and utensils
  • Paper plates and plastic cups
  • Toliet paper (enough said)
  • Trash bags for cleaning up

Plan for Fun Too

  • Games and activities for after eating (frisbees, a football, etc)
  • A portable radio or CD player for music


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