Upicnic | Top 7 Picnic food ideas and tips you need to know in New York

Top 7 Picnic food ideas and tips you need to know in New York

BY UPICNIC CHEF
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5/11/2016

Food is happiness. Even when you are miserable, heartbroken, or life has let you down, food can improve your mood, satisfy you, and nourish you​.

But food is not always easy to make or plan for - which is why so many companies are helping people by delivering groceries, pre-measure ingredients, or developing customized meal plans.

If you are a New Yorker, you may think of picnic food as whatever you can grab at any bodega on your way to the park. Or cold fried chicken. I am a big fan of both, don't get me wrong, but neither option is great for picnic food.

Why? Because picnic food needs to be nutritious but not heavy or hard to digest. 

Being the head chef for Upicnic, I created a menu that revolves around two main ideas: offer food that is fresh and delicious and doesn't spoil easily under the sun; create appetizers and salads that are easy to share and can be eaten with minimal cutlery.

That being said, easy picnic food ideas abound. If you're feeling brave and want to make your own picnic food, here are my tips:

 

INGREDIENTS

Always use fresh, seasonal ingredients, and buy from local producers as often as you can. Not only does produce taste better when it hasn't be stored in refrigerated containers, but it also retains more vitamins and nutrients.

CROWD PLEASERS

Make something for everyone - not everybody likes fish, not everybody eats meat, not everybody loves veggies. Hummus is a crowd pleaser, Kale is King, cheese plates should be omnipresent, and noone shies away from sandwiches and cookies. 

ALLERGIES

Because allergies are all around us. Make sure to bring something with quinoa or pack gluten-free crackers for your picnic cheese plate - and remember that nuts can create very serious problems, so if you include almonds, peanuts, walnuts or any other nuts in your dishes, cook and/or pack them away from other food that is nut-free to prevent cross-contamination.

USE OF GRAIN

Greens wilt, grains will stay yummy. Always incorporate some kind of grain in your picnic salads - farro, pasta, quinoa are all excellent at keeping well under the sun. Even if your dressing or tomatoes or lemon juice will make the salad a bit more watery than you intended it to be, grains will absorb the extra liquid and actually make your salads yummier.

HOW TO STORE

Make sure everything you pack is cold - coolers and bags of ice are bulky and not easy to carry around. You can make sure your picnic food stays cooler longer by refrigerating it overnight and packing it tightly together. Also, try to structure your picnic so that people will eat the savory items towards the beginning. Chips, packaged snacks and cookies can be consumed whenever.

BREAD CHOICE

Choose amazing bread for your picnic sandwiches - because everybody loves sandwiches, and because good bread will not only make you feel fuller and more satisfied, but will also enhance the flavor of what you are serving it with, and just all-around make you the picnic hero.

PORTIONS

Pack picnic food in small portions that can be shared two-by-two. If you have ever tried to dip a chip in a giant bowl of salsa set in the middle of a table, you know that it's impossible to get it into your mouth without it dripping on your clothes. That same setting would spell picnic disaster. You can easily avoid stains and embarrassment by serving all shareable food in a smaller format so that every two people have their own smaller bowl of whatever dip you prefer. 

 

​And whenever you are in doubt over what picnic food idea to cook​, always remember to go simple - easy sandwiches and simple, fresh picnic food recipes are always better - they will keep you less in the kitchen and more outside... and that's in a nutshell the whole point of a picnic anyway.

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