Next time you gather with relatives, try a family reunion picnic! Eating outside eliminates the need to worry about finding enough space or cleaning up messes. Plus, on a beautiful summer day, it offers something for everyone; people can relax in the shade, play Frisbee or football, or take a brief walk after lunch! But, when it comes to storing and serving food outside, there are a couple of planning and safety measures to remember. After all, storing food improperly can result in food poisoning, which will put a damper on everyone’s day in the park.
Serve food on ice
Open up a cooler and fill it with ice; set foods like potato salad on top of it, and drain and replace the ice as needed. You can also fill large bowls with ice and put smaller bowls with food inside of them for the same safe effect. It will keep food cool, plus prevent any food borne illnesses that can pop up when food gets too warm. As a general rule, try to store cold foods at 40 degrees or less to prevent illness-causing bacteria from growing.
Keep an eye on the time
Perishable foods can only stay out for about two hours before they start getting dangerously warm. If the temperature is over 90 degrees, that time slot drops to one hour. Make sure to keep an eye on the time so you don’t take any unnecessary risks with the picnic food!
Avoid the mayo when possible
While mayonnaise is delicious, it can also quickly go bad in warm weather because it’s made with eggs. When possible, try to substitute mayonnaise for other ingredients. Making a pasta salad? Opt for oil and vinegar-based dressings instead of mayo. You can also mash avocado and season with lemon juice for a similar flavor and texture without the worry of mayo going bad!
Practice safe grilling
If you’re going to be grilling at your picnic, make sure that any meat you’re transporting is put in a tightly sealed container, and then inside a plastic bag to ensure that juices don’t leak onto other foods. Before you remove raw meat from its container, preheat the grill so you can immediately start cooking the meat. Try to remember a meat thermometer to check if the meat has reached its proper temperature for safe serving.
Bring enough utensils for everyone
Preparation is key for a successful family reunion picnic. Figure out how many knives, forks, spoons, napkins, plates, and bowls you’ll need for the day, and bring a few extras just in case! Pack everything in a bag and set it out for easy access; if you have a lot of people coming, you can also ask them to bring their own table service to save on costs.