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Picture perfect picnic, fast hacks for al fresco dining success

Temperatures rise, limbs kept idle by the frosty gusts of winter are shaken out to participate in Frisbee games on college quads, and all around, eyes are shrouded by sunglasses. Tis the season of spring, and naturally, the season of spring flings. Inside Beat guides you through the transition from in-dorms to outdoors, and in doing so, tells you just how to ace your first spring picnic date without really trying. (Just don’t tell your date that).

Picnic Mess? Skew That
#Tbt to the childhood days when a glance at a single slice of watermelon inspired full-body fear. Surely, even the smallest bite could result in a watermelon growing in your stomach if a seed just happened to dot the juicy triangle. Fortunately, as we all came to realize, watermelon births don’t exactly lie within the realm of possibility. Now that this odd paranoia has been replaced with a fascination to expertly pair fruit with alcohol (we’ve all seen the Pinterest pins), you can enjoy one of these major picnic must-haves, fruit, without the jitters. Just as fruit is popular among gentlepeople, it is also popular among the various winged insects dwelling in your outdoor picnic location. Bowls of sliced or clustered fruits are defenseless to these invaders, and create a messy landing and feeding spot for bugs. To avoid insects, cut fruit into small triangular or circular pieces, skewer them, and wrap the skewers in plastic wrap. As an added bonus, skewers make the perfect swords for picnic duels –– because we still haven’t outgrown those.

Room Temperature is the New Hot
No, we’re not talking about those summer bods. Given their outdoor locale and subsequent distance from a working stove (for the record, showing up with an Easy Bake oven is not a good idea), it's best to choose food options that will taste just as good at room temperature, or even chilled, as they would taste piping hot. Sides like pasta and soup that can be prepared and served in a variety of ways are just a few options that don’t belong to any specific season, or temperature. To avoid spillage, pack soups in tall thermos bottles. Now that the picnic food will be a sure hit, we can only hope “you’re room temperature” doesn’t become the next big pickup line.

It’s Really Only Cool if it’s in a Jar
Months ago, Mason jars were finally recognized and plucked from the depths of musty basements, and made to be the newest must-have item. That was, of course, when hipsters worldwide abandoned them, and people all around began to shove whatever they could into the chic glass jars. While we’re still waiting on the hipsters to make the next big container move for us all to copy (bets are currently on vases), we can offer yet another suggestion concerning what Mason jar enthusiasts should pack into their glass containers next: picnic dishes. Mason jars, in their many sizes, are ideal for portion control and layering. Those packing salads or veggie assortments can layer ingredients like lettuce and dressing in tiered levels. Picnic-goers can simply eat from the jar with a fork, or use it for storage, serving the mixed food on a plate upon arrival.

Brown Bag it
When it comes to packing sandwiches or wraps for a picnic, make like a soccer mom and opt for the brown paper bag made iconic for its appearance in middle school lunches. While plastic bags may seem like a better choice, they’re not. The plastic allows for condensation to form in warm, outdoor temperatures, leaving your food soggy and unappetizing. Paper, alternatively, will absorb any dampness before it can get to your sandwich, acting as a protective barrier. If you really want to evoke the nostalgia of bagged lunches, sneak a handwritten note into your partner’s bag during prep.

Hosting the perfect picnic has never been easier thanks to our foolproof set of al fresco hacks. If food is indeed the way to the heart, then consider Inside Beat your modern-day Romeo. Here’s to hoping you’ll use these tips to find your Juliet to sit beside on your checkered picnic blanket, reader. After all, that’s a lot more romantic than dramatic, play-imposed martyrdom anyway.

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