Use the collection of picnic recipe ideas below to treat your family and friends to an old fashioned picnic where they will have loads of fun and create happy memories that will last a lifetime. Picnics are one of the easiest and most affordable leisure activities for family togetherness, and the sharing of good food adds to the enjoyment.
Living in a farming community meant that vacations were mostly reserved for city people. There was always plenty of farm work to be done, and the farm animals needed to be looked after daily.
To go away for a week was impossible. However, there were times when the work could be
set aside for an afternoon so everybody could enjoy a family picnic.
On an especially warm day, we would go to a favorite area on our farm for a picnic supper. In the upper field, there were shady trees, cool breezes, and a wonderful view of the countryside. The perfect place to spread a blanket, relax, and eat.
Sometimes for a change, Mom would quickly throw together whatever food we had available, and Dad would load up the car. We'd head off seeing where the road would take us.
There was always a tin or two of salmon or sardines in the pantry — sardines were my favorite, and a freshly baked loaf of bread on hand to make the sandwiches. The cake set aside for company made the perfect dessert to take.
Now and then on a Sunday afternoon, we would arrange with relatives to meet at an agreed upon place for a family picnic. Favorite spots included a lake shore, the bank of a quiet stream, along a scenic roadside, or at a public park with swings and teeter totters to amuse younger kids.
It would be decided beforehand who would bring the sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Favorite picnic recipe ideas would be shared, but the meal was mostly potluck, so the fun was you never knew what you'd be eating until you arrived.
Summer picnics are truly awesome. However, believe it or not, one of our family's favorite
outings was an annual winter picnic.
That's me at age nine in the photos
with my Aunt Jessie and Uncle Art enjoying a picnic at our farm woodlot
in January 1955.
Our winter picnic recipe ideas included Irish stew, hot dogs, and pork and beans cooked over an open fire with homemade butter tarts or cupcakes for dessert. Piping hot chocolate and tea helped to keep us warm. It was so much fun!
Proper packing of the picnic food was very important, as this was before the days of insulated food carriers and portable fridges.
Most families had a
strong picnic basket, and cookie tins, honey pails, and small cardboard boxes were
kept on hand to carry prepared food items. Tupperware® containers became
popular in the 1950s, and they were ideal for carrying picnic foods.
Sandwiches were carefully wrapped in waxed paper, while salads were prepared and placed in Tupperware®, then wrapped in layers of newspaper to insulate them and keep them cool.
The creamy homemade salad dressings were taken in screw-topped jars and the
salads were tossed at the picnic site for fresher taste and appearance.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes were taken in season, along with fresh garden lettuce and homemade mayonnaise for salad dressing.
The creamy dressing was taken in a screw-topped jar and the salad vegetables were cut and tossed at the picnic site for fresher taste and appearance.
Sometimes, the sandwiches were made ahead, but most often the bread and fixings were packed and taken to the site to be assembled.
Prepared sandwiches and salads were carefully wrapped in waxed paper and placed in Tupperware® containers that were in turn wrapped in layers of newspaper to insulate and keep them cool.
Cakes and pies were simply sliced and served from their baking pans at the site. Delicate pastries and dessert squares were surrounded by a tea towel to prevent them sliding about and carried in cookie tins.
Berries and other fresh fruits in season were always a favorite dessert item and perfect for snacks after the meal.
Mom made sure that water for making tea and instant coffee was kept piping hot in insulated Thermos® bottles, while homemade lemonade and fruit juices were carried in glass jars that were set in cool stream or lake water at the picnic site to chill.
Aside from the food, families took their own paper plates, paper serviettes (napkins), cups, and cutlery.
Other essential items included salt and pepper shakers, can and bottle openers, sharp paring knives, tablecloths, a blanket and cushions for seating, and possibly some mosquito repellent. Swatting the pesky mosquitoes was considered part of the fun.
Why not use the picnic recipe ideas shared on this page to treat your family and friends to an old fashioned picnic this weekend?
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