Summertime Picnics

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Summertime Picnics

It’s the perfect time of year for a picnic. Creating a great picnic is easy to do it just takes some preparation. Here are some tips to get you started:

The most important item to make your picnic a success is a good cooler.  Choose a cooler that is well insulated like the Igloo Icy Tunes that will keep food cold and as a bonus includes an Ipod dock to add summertime background music. Invest in cool packs to keep food from getting soggy, no one likes a damp sandwich. 

Make sure to choose a cooler that is appropriate for the number of people you are inviting. If it’s a romantic picnic for two don’t carry a big cooler and if it’s a large group don’t try to stuff everything into a small cooler. Keep in mind though that a full cooler will stay cool longer than one with lots of empty space.

Picnics are for relaxing and getting away from stress - don’t pack meals that require a lot of setup and preparation. Make finger foods that will make you and your guests happy. Try cherry tomatoes, cold roast chicken that you can tear off the bone, boiled eggs, beautiful salads. Think simple. Picnics are supposed to be fun. Instead of packing pre-made sandwiches, put together a ‘deli bar’ with assorted meats, cheeses, rolls, and condiments so bread won’t go soggy before you even get a chance to eat. Pasta salads and other dishes dressed in vinegar-based marinades can be prepared the day before, hold up well in the heat, and continue taking on a wonderful flavor over time.

Shade is important. Here in the South, summer means hot weather. So picking a spot with shelter and bringing some folding chairs is sure to make you a hit with your guests. A little planning goes a long way here.

Tote melamine plates and cups instead of cumbersome ceramic dishes and heavy cutlery. After a long day in the summer sun no one wants to lug around heavy dishes. Like the backpackers say, tote it in and then tote it out.  Make sure to leave your picnic site as clean and beautiful as when you showed up.

Make an easy to put together drink. Sweet tea is simple to mix and can be carried easily in a big plastic bottle.

Bring a large can of insect repellent for everyone to share. Make sure to choose a brand high in DEET, the mosquitos here in Savannah hate DEET and your companions will love it.

Take a bottle of sunscreen for everyone to slather on.

Here’s a basic list of what to take on your next picnic:

Napkins, preferably cloth

Melamine plates, both large and medium

Plastic Flatware, knives, forks, spoons

Serving utensils—three should do it

Mugs for soup or cold drinks

Thermos for soup or cold drinks

Stemless wine glasses—small tumblers are good

Corkscrew and bottle/can opener

An assortment of condiments in plastic squeeze bottles

Paring knife

Cutting board

Coarse salt in a jar and pepper mill, or salt and pepper shakers

Damp wipes, soft cloths or paper towels for washing up

Little flower vase for wildflowers

Plastic bags for leftovers

Garbage bag

A camera

Blanket, bedspread, beach towel or quilt—cotton is best and can go in the wash; never wool, which can be too itchy

So get out there and make some memories. Don’t forget to leave us a comment with your picnic tips. One lucky commenter chosen at random will receive an Igloo Icy Tunes Cool Fusion cooler to take on their next picnic.

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Reader Comments:

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By Paulkics on December 30, 2011

Going on a picnic in two weeks to the beautiful NC mountains with my honey. I am keeping it simple…homemade southern potato salad, and a small SMITHFIELD spiral sliced ham, some cheesebread, good spicy mustard, some single serving packed pickles, white seedless grapes,strawberries and a nice bottle of wine. Could it get any better??? Thanks Paula for ALL your great ideas and recipies! Love your website as well as your magazine that I hover over the mailbox for!

By Bobbie Fortenberry on August 05, 2010

Hey!! The wedding was amazing and the rehersal dinner ..was GREAT!! Thanks to everyone for all of the food ideas and tips! From shrimp recipes to sides….I think EVERYONE! And YES I cried so much!! My son took my breath away when he walked out in his tucks!! My baby..was a man ! JUST BLINK, Moms!! love to all! Barbara Quesneberry

By Barbara Quesenberry on October 03, 2009


great post.

thanks a lot for sharing the information.

By Supplier of Folding Banqueting Tables UK on October 02, 2009

looking for the recipes on saturday august 22,2009.  I love watching your show .  You had your niece and nephew on the day I was watching and I didn/t get to see the entire show but your made somwthing with rice.  It looked so good but of course you added butter to yours.  thanks for your reply.  I just ordered your magazine a few weeks ago.  Georgene

By georgenehoffbeci on August 22, 2009

Dear Paula
My hubby make your beer chicken a few weeks ago for are friends everybody love it.
you are a great cook .everytime i see you cook it make me think of my mom.she been gone 10 year now.
Take care
Flora Walker

By Flora Walker on August 18, 2009

One idea that I found helpful for salads is to take a small container with a lid that is leak proof,add water and freeze. Before packing your salad in cooler put container in your salad. It will keep the salad cold longer when you set it out for your picnic.

By Patricia Spalding on August 18, 2009

Barbara where is the wedding?  Why store bought cheesecake.  I’ll send you a recipe for the best NY Style you have ever had.  It really is easy. 
Paula you are a hoot and my family just adores you.  We had planned a trip in Aug but it had to be put off do to school starting on the 7th this year but maybe in the near future we all may meet you.  Keep up the From my kitchen to yours the boys got it down pat as well as the Hey Ya’ll.Resaca< Ga coming in loud and clear!

By Christine Donahue on July 23, 2009

I make your green bean last week .my hubby love them
I went out and brought your Dutch oven to it is GREAT.
Thanks for your recipe I love them One day i would love to come down to ladys and Sons.
Take Care
Flora Walker
Heath Ohio

By Flora Walker on July 21, 2009

Hi Paula,

My husband daughter and I met you in Savannah after your workout at a convenience store.  I made your Shrimp and Scallop Fraiche for the 4th and it was such a hit.  I’m making the Gooey Butter Cake, Orange Brownies, which we adore, and The Lady’s Cheesy Mac for a Pig Roast tomorrow.  Keep the recipes coming.  I haven’t tried one thing I didn’t like!

Terri Proffitt July 17, 2009

By Terri Proffitt on July 17, 2009

I want to make the potato salad, but what is Paula Deen’s silly salt?

By Sundi Marino on July 07, 2009

Hello Paula,
I just wanted to let you know that you were my inspiration to go back to school and i am going to culinary school. I love you and your show

By Donna Buchanan on July 06, 2009

I love gazpacho for a picnic.  Garnished with croutons, boiled shrimp and avocado, it is filling yet refreshing.  Best of all, I use all those fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers!  Yum… gotta go make some now.

By kathy wilkinson on July 04, 2009

Hi Paula,
Just wanted to let you know I’m using your zucchini casserole recipe to take to my Brother and Sister-in-laws 4th family get together, It looks so good…Thanks for all your great recipes!
By Betty Smith on July 3rd 2009

By Betty Smith on July 03, 2009

Love your show, recipes, and magazine.  I noticed that on your stoves you keep a kitchen towel hanging.  I always used to do the same until one New Year’s day while setting the table, I caught a flash out of the corner of my eye. There was a cake baking in the oven and the towel caught on fire.  The flames shot down,
caught the kitchen rug afire. Thank God that my husband keeps a fire extinguisher by the stove, he was able to grab it and put the fire out before any further damage could occur.

By Evelyn Shedlock on July 03, 2009

Thanks for all the incredible recipes, Paula!  As always, you are amazing!  For kids, I like to make them PB&J using cookie cutters, for more appeal, and they also seem to like dipping things so celery & carrot with Ranch is a great way to get their veggies in.  Another great and healthy dessert is to do a “fruit kabob” with cut pineapple, strawberries, and other fresh fruit on wood sticks - great for kids & adults.  Thanks for the ideas, Paula!

By Lora Drinkard on July 03, 2009

for Bobby’s shrimp; go to and click on the appetizer recipes;  It is the 5th one down.

By Frances Shannon on July 03, 2009

How do you make Bobby’s marinated shrimp? I would lke to try it out on the family this weekend? thanks!

By Barbara Quesenberry on July 03, 2009

I would use Bobby’s marinated shrimp. I used it for my granddaughter’s 3rd birthday and it dissappeared faster than you can say “Luau”. So easy to prepare the day or so before. Easy too as I don’t usually do shrimp.
All my special occasions include some of Paula’s dishes.

By Helen Camenisch on July 03, 2009

Would love to hear about another upcoming cruise with Paula—preferably just one day at sea without landing (I get seasick).  Reading about your last cruise sounded wonderful and it would be a real treat to see you in person.

By Sally Finn on July 02, 2009

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