5 more tips for a low-waste picnic
The days are warming, the birds are becoming more vocal and it's starting to look like picnic weather! But all that fun in the sun can leave us with wasted food or too much extra food at home.
We talked about five tips on how to have a low-waste picnic last summer. Here are five more for 2021, so you can truly master the low-waste picnic.
USE UP LEFTOVER FOODS BEFORE BUYING NEW
A picnic can feel like an event you'll have to head to the shop to buy food for. But if you have food already in the house, you may end up with more at the end of the week than you can eat in time.
Instead of buying new, picnics can be excellent opportunities to try out new recipes. Incorporate fresh foods and leftovers from last night's dinner into light bites, salads and snacks. Turn plain leftover cooked pasta into a pasta salad like this apple & penne slaw. Cook broccoli fried rice from leftover veggies and rice, and allow it to cool. Fry up leftover mashed potatoes into sweetcorn fritters to serve with guacamole and share. Just make sure your dishes transport well in reusable containers.
MAKE INFUSED WATER
Do you have leftover fruits or herbs in your kitchen, like cucumber, lemon or mint? Have you prepared a fruit platter ready for the picnic but you have the scraps, ends or leaves of the fruits left on the chopping board? Add them to a pitcher of water to create your own refreshing blend of infused water, and share it out at the picnic. Save any citrus slices afterwards to create candied peels in the oven.
You could even use leftover fruit to make purée for homemade cocktails, like this honeydew melon bellini or an alcohol-free passion fruit martini. Or if cocktails aren't quite your vibe, blend leftover fruits and peels into one of these delicious iced tea recipes.
PACK ONLY THE FOOD YOU NEED
It's exciting packing up your favourite foods for a little al fresco dining. But how much are you really going to eat in one afternoon? Even if you bring reusable ice packs, foods that need refrigeration will only last for so long in the hot sun. Leftovers are better avoided if you can.
You should still be able to enjoy variety in your picnic – simply plan realistically. For instance, if your group is unlikely to get through a whole tub of hummus, bring only half of it in a reusable container.
SHARE DISHES WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Food is best when shared, and sharing is also useful when someone has more or less of an appetite on a given day. Why not arrange a low-waste picnic where everyone brings snacks or dishes to share? Small pastries or vegetable tarts are popular finger food and can easily be warmed up for tomorrow's dinner if they don't all get eaten. Sandwiches, quartered, are simple to share and usually stay fresh into the evening. Falafels will withstand a good amount of time outside the fridge without getting funky.
Bring reusable containers with you on the day of the picnic, or ask guests to bring their own. If food doesn't get used up, send your friends and family home with easily packed up leftovers.
BRING STURDY PACKAGING
Packaging is vital to make sure your picnic food lasts for longer, as oxygen and heat will degrade food quickly on a hot summer's day. And how tightly you pack up your picnic may even determine whether food or drink ends up leaking and decorating the bottom of your picnic bag! Bring ice packs to keep salads chilled. Pack food in containers you already know are airtight and fully resealable.
Mason jars are ideal to bring for drinks, or cooked dishes and salads that might end up leaking from Tupperware. And if you've brought along food in disposable, non-resealable containers, have a plan for how you're going to transport any leftovers home again. This means bringing along enough empty containers for your worst-case scenario amount of uneaten picnic food.