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A Simpler Summer Picnic

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Safeway. All opinions are 100% mine.

As hot summer days lead into long summer nights, the call of getting out into nature echoes louder and louder. Maybe you want a walk in the woods, maybe you need to dip your toes in the lake, or maybe you just need to wile away an afternoon under the shade of a tree older than your great grandparents. No matter how you want to get out there and enjoy the world, you need the food to fuel your adventure and Safeway has got it. From fried chicken to fruit pies, they have all you need for a simpler summer picnic. You get to feed your family while having a (much needed) chance to relax.

Thank you Safeway for sponsoring today’s post. To learn more, check out their website at Safeway.com.

A lawn picnic set up on a white and gray blanket. A picnic basket, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies, fresh cut pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, and a Safeway grocery bag.

If you’ve been around here long, you know that I love serving delicious food to my family and friends. I love to share recipes and the secrets behind what makes those recipes work the first time. I love knowing everyone leaves with full bellies and happy hearts.

Sometimes though, life gets busy. You run out of time and energy to get it all done and you just need someone else to do the hard work. Which is what makes the secret behind this “recipe” for a perfect summer picnic a little different than most. My secret is Safeway.

Seriously. Between the prepared in-store salads from the deli, the cookies and pies in the bakery, and the pre-cut fruit from the produce section, you can have a multi-course meal ready to load into your picnic basket in no time. No oven to heat. No dishes to clean. More time with those who matter to you.

Read on for my tips for food selection, packing your picnic basket, and keeping everything safe while on the go.

A overhead view of a lawn picnic set up on a white and gray blanket. A picnic basket, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies, fresh cut pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, and a Safeway grocery bag.

Easier Outdoor Eating with Safeway

Thank you so much to Safeway for sponsoring today’s post! As my go to grocery store, Safeway is where I go when it’s time to stock my fridge and pantry, or when I need that one special ingredient to get dinner on the table. It’s quick, easy, and convenient.

When it comes to outdoor eating and picnic preparation, it’s no different. Safeway is my one stop solution for a simpler summer picnic.

Start in the produce section, grabbing fresh cut fruit bowls with pineapple, strawberries, and watermelon. Then throw in some pre-cut veggies for good measure.

Next cruise on over to the deli for their made in-store delights. So good they almost taste better than homemade. Fried and/or rotisserie chicken are a must. Side dishes like pasta salads, potato salad, and chicken salad are always a hit.

Since no picnic is complete without something sweet, don’t forget to stop by the bakery. Grab a baguette for the chicken salad then add in a fresh baked cherry or apple pie. Don’t forget the chocolate chip cookies!

Before you go, remember to grab drinks, ice, and paper products, if you need them.

No Safeway locally? You can also find quality summer meal solutions at the Albertsons Companies family of stores, including Albertsons, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Randalls, Shaw’s Supermarket, Star Market, Tom Thumb and Vons. Safeway also offers Grocery Delivery & DriveUp & Go™ for convenient ways to shop!

Preparing a Picnic Basket

The secret to a properly packed picnic basket is to consider temperature and weight. No matter the size of your picnic, you’re going to need a cooler for the cold stuff and some sort of basket or bag for the stuff that doesn’t need to be cold. Once you’ve separated that out, pack the heavy stuff on the bottom and the lighter stuff on the top to prevent squishing.

Food for a picnic sitting on a kitchen counter ready to pack into the picnic basket and a cooler.

Packing the picnic basket

Not everyone has their grandma Evelyn’s 1940’s (maybe 50’s?) picnic basket, and that’s okay! There are so many options to use instead, like reusable tote bags, an empty laundry basket, or even the brown paper shopping bags you get at the checkout. Depending on the size of my picnic, I often use more than one, but for simplicity I’ll call them all a basket.

Many of your picnic foods are going to end up in your cooler, as that is the best way to keep them at a safe temperature until you eat. My rule of thumb: If it needs to be refrigerated, toss it in the cooler. If it’s shelf stable or better enjoyed at room temperature put it in the picnic basket.

In addition to the food, your picnic basket should contain all the things you need for a successful picnic. Plates, napkins, and silverware are at the top of the list. A wet kitchen wash cloth in a zip top bag will help manage messes. Lastly, don’t forget a trash bag so that you can pack it all out when you are done.

Other things to consider coozies to help keep bottled or canned drinks cold, cups or glasses if needed, a bottle opener or wine key, and serving utensils for salads and pies. While not at all necessary, I like to throw in a cutting board to act as a makeshift table in case we end up somewhere less than flat.

A packed picnic basket and cooler next to a Safeway grocery bag and a stack of packaged cherry pie and chocolate chip cookies.

Packing the cooler

While people tend to think of picnic baskets when they think of picnics, a cooler is key. They keep food and drinks cold, and provide a place to sit when the grass gets itchy. They come in all shapes and sizes and while a fancy Yeti is fun, it’s not necessary.

Once you’ve picked your cooler, you have to have a plan to keep it cold. I like to use a combination of both ice packs and ice cubes for maximum cold potential. My ice packs are the reusable ones you get in meal delivery services. I use those as a liner on the bottom of the cooler and load the food in on top, filling in with ice cubes as necessary.

As you load in the food, make sure that everything is in sealed containers that will keep the melting ice water away from the food. I put drinks around the edges, then load the stuff that needs to be kept coldest (mayo based salads and/or seafood) in the middle on the bottom. From there be careful not to crush anything and make sure everything is surrounded by ice cubes.

While most people forego cups or glasses at a picnic, if you are going to need ice in drinks, keep a separate bag of clean ice in the cooler dedicated for drinking.

A vertical image of a lawn picnic set up on a white and gray blanket. A picnic basket, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies, fresh cut pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, and a Safeway grocery bag.

Food Safety for Picnics

While this may be near the end, when it comes to a successful picnic, food safety should rein supreme. If one person gets sick from spoiled food, no one is going to have a good time.

Remember that hot food should not be left out for more than two hours. Cold food should be put back into the cooler as soon as possible. Make sure all food is sealed up before placing it in the cooler, to prevent ice water from getting into the food.

Don’t leave the cooler or picnic basket full of food in a hot car and if at all possible keep them in a shady area while outside. When in doubt, throw it out. It’s never worth getting sick over!

About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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