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Picnic & Cook Out Tips

Guest Blogger: Huntington Beach resident Erika Reardon of Erika’s Catering Company.

Like any meal, you must plan ahead for picnics and cook outs if you have any hope of an enjoyable afternoon for you too!  Here are a couple tips for taking your meals on the road this summer!

MENU PLANNING

Pre -cook your meats.  Yes, roasting your food on a fire is very primal, but it is faster and safer to pre-cook your meats at home, in advance.  You can still grill, but now you simply need to heat and eat!  It will go faster and there is less chance of undercooked meat.

Avoid foods with creamy or mayonnaise based dressings.  They are more prone to spoil issues.   This is not the time for heavy dressings and gloppy side salads.  Besides, it is hot out and a lighter meal will be more refreshing.

CHILLING OUT ~ Packing the cooler

Be sure all the food going into the cooler is cold to begin with.  This will be easy if you planned ahead the day before and have everything packaged and ready to go!

Pre freeze a couple water or juice bottles.  They will help maintain the cool and as they melt, they are ready to drink.

Make “ice” cubes from juice to chill but not dilute your beverage.  Pack these in a plastic bag or container.  Again double duty cooler and beverage chill!

Freeze your own ice packs in plastic containers with tight lids.  As the water thaws, use it for clean up.  This way you do not need to use drinking water to do basic clean up.

Bring two coolers.  Use one for drinks as it will be opened often loosing it’s chill factor more quickly.  The second cooler should be for the food only.  Then food will stay as cold for as long as possible!  This also keeps sand, bugs and other unwanted stuff out of the cooler and away from the food.

COMMON SENSE

Just like at home, do not leave the buffet out longer then necessary.  Choose a time to eat and be sure everyone enjoys the meal together.  Then pack all the left over perishables back into the food cooler.  Saving the leftovers for future meal is great as along as the food is kept cold.  Then keep coolers under an umbrella or in the shade.

Always pack extra trash bags.  Clean up when you are done!  On a busy weekend the park or beach may have trash cans that are already full.  If that is the case, you can still bag your trash to help keep the area clean!

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