How to save on a picnic
Hello all and welcome to international picnic day!
In honor of international picnic day, I thought it would be nice to pass along a few ways to save some money, naturally.
Step one is to avoid buying fast food or pickup, taking it to a park, and thinking that is a picnic. Picnics should be homemade, with love! That might be unfair of me, who am I to determine what you consider a picnic. Here is a better idea, let me talk about some of the things you might spend money on in order to take a picnic and then break down how you can save on those things.
Traditional things we spend money on for a picnic
Driving to your picnic spot
Gas costs money, cars cost money, car maintenance costs money! If you are able to find a location within walking distance you should take advantage of it. Our family is lucky enough to have an elementary school nearby, so we can pack our picnic and walk about a half-mile to a nice grassy field for a family picnic.
Avoiding the car to have your picnic can help it feel fun and authentic. If you aren't lucky enough to have a park nearby try your backyard, or front porch, or back porch. Most of the fun of a picnic is setting up a location that isn't your standard dining area and having a meal outside.
This is most likely the largest investment when taking a picnic so it is the most important place to save money. As shared in a previous post, I would take a look at the deals my local grocery store is offering that week and plan around that. This time of year most of the fruit in the produce section is in season and fairly cheap.
If you have any leftovers around the house that is a great way to save some money. Also, the food doesn't need to be fancy. The whole point of a picnic is to get outside, relax, and have a nice meal in the sun (or shade if it's too hot). So the food you have doesn't need to be extravagant to be a good time.
Last, keep the menu small and simple. A picnic is typically an event, a treat, a special occasion and leads us to want to make all types of foods. No need, especially if you are trying to save some money. So, pick just a few menu items, focus on keeping the cost down, and save some money in the process. If you have the right people attending the picnic then the food will be an afterthought.
I could probably copy/paste what I wrote about food into this section. Drinks are probably the second most expensive part of any picnic. If you want to make it cheaper I suggest a few things.
First, you can use bottles you have around the house and fill them with water. Second, you can buy a soda stream. These things are easy to use and allow you to make carbonated drinks at a much cheaper cost than you might get them at the store. Third, just bring water, there is no need for anything fancy. If you are going to be outside in the sun, you will need to be drinking water anyway so why go above and beyond when the experience of eating outside should be most of the joy of the picnic itself.
What I'm talking about here is anything other than food and drink that you might need to take along with you. This could be plates/napkins/silverware/cups. Or it could be a blanket, or old sheet, or cooler, or any other supply you may want to bring along.
In regards to plates/napkins/etc. our family likes to ask for those items every time we order takeout. Then we use silverware at home and stash away the plastic items for future use (typically at a family picnic). If you haven't been stocking up, then I would just suggest bringing silverware from home. It's free, you can pack it back up, and just wash it when you get home. This is better for the environment and doesn't require you to buy anything extra.
Next, let's talk about the all-important cooler. If you don't have a Yeti just sitting around let's think outside the box. I have used a small tote to pack drinks before. I have used 5 plastic bags from the store all nested inside one another with some ice and my drinks before. Even an old Amazon box with some plastic bags lining it can work just fine. Basically, anything you have that is the shape of a cooler and either plastic (so you don't have to line it with plastic bags) or not (so you do have to line it) will work just fine.
As for what to sit on, I've used an old 5-gallon bucket, or an old sheet, or an old blanket, or basically anything to keep me away from the grass and bugs.
Most of what I'm referring to here was already mentioned in the driving section. Basically, you don't have to drive all over the place to find a great place for a picnic. I don't know how many times as a kid we "camped" in the backyard and it was the coolest thing in the whole world. In many instances, it's less about where you are and more about creating an experience you don't usually have. The novelty is what makes the moment special, not the location. You don't have to go to the zoo and have a picnic for it to be special.
International Picnic Day doesn't have to be expensive. It can be a very special event on the cheap. Just follow the simple rules above and you can have a great time with your friends and family.