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Credit: Flickr/Kathrin & Stefan

Keep a blanket in your car for impromptu beach picnics

Packing a picnic isn't rocket science, but this list will help ensure you've got everything you need for a successful outdoor meal. 

  1. Invest in a good quality cooler for perishables. Look for airtight seals around the lid and – for larger ones – a leak-proof spigot for draining. Keep in mind that coolers filled with food and ice can be heavy, so you may want to buy two smaller coolers rather than one large one.
  2. Look for individual watertight containers for storing salads, sandwiches or ingredients for grilling. There is nothing more disappointing than discovering soggy sandwiches from melted ice.
  3. Take reusable dishes and flatware. Heavy-duty plastic or melamine plates and cups are perfect for picnics, along with metal flatware. They even lend a little elegance to your al fresco dining.
  4. Safely pack a sharp knife. Keep a small wooden cutting board and sharp paring or pocket knife on hand for last-minute food preparation.
  5. Bring a blanket. During the summer, keep a light, oversized blanket in the back of your car for impromptu dining on the ground. A plastic ground sheet is also a good idea to protect the blanket – and your backside – from moisture.
  6. Include two tea towels. One damp and one dry tea towel, sealed in plastic bags, will ensure you're well-prepared for almost any picnic mess. A roll of paper towels is handy as well.
  7. Think about seating. If you have room, bring folding campstools or outdoor chairs.
  8. Protect against pests. For advanced picnickers, thwart hungry ants by drawing circles around your plate with chalk. Talcum powder works equally well. Ants can't stand the smell and texture of either substance.
  9. Collect your trash. Garbage bags take up very little space and are essential.
  10. Stay hydrated. Have plenty of liquids on hand and remind everyone to drink often, especially kids. Water is always best, but 100% fruit juice mixed with natural sparkling water is great, too.

When preparing your outdoor meals, consider these easy eco-friendly tips:

  • Choose recycled picnic supplies: Use recycled paper napkins and recycled plastic tableware. Try the Preserve line of tableware made from 100 per cent recycled plastics and 100 per cent post-consumer paper available at Whole Foods Market.
  • Grill without chemicals: If your picnic includes grilling, substitute traditional charcoals with additive-free, real hardwood charcoal or wood chunks. Try the 365 Everyday Value Charcoal, for a natural wood-grilled flavour.
  • Eat local: Choose organic or locally grown produce to ensure your family is dining on fresh natural foods and reduce the environmental impact and costs of transportation. Not to mention support for local farmers.
  • Drink natural: Choose organic or natural sparkling sodas and ginger ales such as Blue Sky sodas.

Now that you've got everything but the food for your picnic, here are some suggested wholefoodsmarket.com for the latest featured products, recipes and events in your area.