Our top tips for creating your own impressive picnic spread.
Lord knows last winter was dark and full of terrors. Our plans to fly to tropical havens were thwarted. Our brunches cancelled. But as the days warm up and the state begins to open, nothing — we repeat, nothing — can stop us from experiencing the joys of a picnic in the park.
The humble picnic lifted our spirits beyond measure when Dan Andrews lifted the restrictions. We were reminded of the gift that is good food, good drink and good company, and the important role they play in our wellbeing… and yeah, on our Instagram feed.
If you’ve been on the socials lately, you would have definitely seen some of your mates posting their luscious spreads or one of the myriads of new businesses offering deluxe picnic boxes. There are so many popping up we even compiled an epic list of our favourites. But there’s something impressive about creating your own picnic spread – one tailored to the needs and whimsies of your guests – and we’re here to help you get it done.
Check your pals’ dietaries
Let’s start simple. Once you’ve got your guest list sorted, you best be checking in to see if anyone recently converted to veganism, or is now not doing gluten because they’re *cough* intolerant. Keep a note of anything that comes up, and just know that you can handle it.
There are so many tasty treats out there that cover even the pickiest of eaters. Whether you fancy a Mexican inspired fiesta or want to channel your inner baker, there are plenty of recipes to be found that will make the plant-lovers among you eternally grateful and will ensure that you’ll be the crown-prince of cooking.
Make it picture-worthy
It’s true when they say we eat with our eyes. You could have the tastiest grub in the world, but if your presentation is not on fleek, no-one will be harping home about it. Tragic, but true.
It doesn’t take much to make your spread look appealing though, and there are plenty of different aesthetics one can appropriate – from rustic farmhouse vibes to pastel cottagecore. Scrolling through the picnic hashtag on Instagram will give you plenty of inspiration, while this Washington Post article gives a step-by-step guide to curating your picnic aesthetic.
The staples for every look include a picnic blanket, a couple of cushions, something to serve the food on (a trestle table, or even just a cutting board) and a few accessories like fairy lights, flowers or candles to make it ~pop~.
Location, location, location
Since we’re no longer confined to a 25km radius, there is a lot more choice when it comes to choosing your picnic spot. We did the research and found the best picnic digs in the Bellarine region, but if you’re up for going further afield, there are loads of stunning parks around regional Victoria.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to park yourself near a brewery or a distillery, so you can get on the beers in a licensed outdoor area once the food is done with. There are a bunch of awesome spots not too far from Geelong that will keep you hydrated as you soak up the summer rays.
Remember though, you’ve got food in the car, so make sure what needs to be cold will stay cold!
Think bigger than cheese and crackers
Look, we’re not here to diss the magic of cheese and crackers. Wallace and Gromit loved them, and so do we. But trust us when we say if you want to host an A-grade picnic, you’re going to need more than just some cheddar.
What truly makes a picnic great is knowing that you don’t have to eat beforehand or afterwards. Think of those family barbecues where nan and pop would bring down the curried egg sandwiches and Aunty Sharon was on the salads. That was where it was at.
Thankfully we’ve come a long way since the curried egg days, and now there’s an endless variety of gourmet sandwiches you can prepare if that’s your poison.
Better yet, make a meal of it
This is where you enter God-level picnic preparation. Rocking up to your picnic with a couple of well-made, delicious meals in tow is like handing out free water bottles at a music festival. You’re everyone’s favourite person.
Of course, there is the time, cost and inspiration factor that must be taken into account. Allow yourself to have fun with finding a cuisine type that tickles your taste buds and then start getting creative with a bunch of different ingredients.
Preparing meals for friends and family that you know they’re all going to love is extremely rewarding and is sure to make you enjoy whipping up a storm in the kitchen. Whatever impressive dishes you come up with, there’s no doubt you will wow your loved ones and earn yourself the reputation of ultimate picnic master.
However you plan on picnicking this summer, we sure hope you enjoy yourselves. And remember to slip, slap, slop!