Yes, summer is in full swing. What does that look like for those of us planning a family, church or work picnic? What to buy? Where to buy? As planners we have options when it comes to deciding what to eat. This morsel is designed to help you put a twist on the everyday picnic.
The basics: If you’re hiring a catering company there will be an extra charge for paper goods. If budget really is a concern, tell the catering company to leave it off the proposal and bring these items yourself. Also, negotiate the garbage. Who’s bringing garbage cans and trash liners? Where does the garbage go at the end of the event? I’ve been in situations where caterers had to take the garbage back to their offices and put it in their own dumpster.
Twisted: Have everyone bring their own plate, silverware and cups. Make a contest out of who can bring something that’s the most eclectic.
Start with the obvious: Hot dogs and hamburgers.
Twisted: Set up an exaggerated hot dog or burger bar. By exaggerated, I mean load up on interesting condiments, artisan cheeses, for example. If you have the money, take the quality of the protein up a few notches. Let attendees know where your product is coming from and the story behind it. This will assure them that they are getting a better-quality product than standard fare. A recommendation: Call the butcher at the local grocery and talk to him about grinding your meat fresh. By doing this, you can get a higher-quality meat that will taste better on the grill.
Research area farmers and their method of raising cattle. Since I’m always lecturing my readers on the importance of communication, convey this in the invitations. Explain that you are purchasing higher-quality proteins, and you will have their mouths watering as they read the invitation. Another suggestion: A turkey burger is too predictable, so twist it and do turkey sausage. They’re available at the grocery store and delicious on the grill. And they come in spicy and sweet just like their Italian cousins.
Twisted condiments: This is where the fun begins. Have graphics made that show variations for making burger or hot dog “fixins.” Then name them, either by making up your own names or borrowing them from — and crediting — restaurants. Hard Rock Cafe, for example, has a Hickory BBQ Bacon Burger that is very good. For hot dogs, do a dogs-around-the-world theme with regional flavors. Hot dog fixings for the Carolinas are famous but not to be confused with those in Chicago. And don’t forget about the bun.
Side dishes (not twisted): What turns me off most at a picnic is how side dishes are displayed, which is not safely enough! When making or ordering these dishes, I encourage people to maintain a better food awareness and keep food fresh for longer periods of time. One of the better solutions to me means that food items are in several smaller containers so they get switched out more often. This works best because it’s hard to display food on ice, which melts and gets messy. Do bring several spoons for serving because these get messy as well. Stay away from mayonnaise-based items and go to more vinegar. Anything you can use that is fresh from the garden with interesting herbs is best.
Twisted desserts: Look at church cookbooks for ideas about baked goods that are interesting and come from the heart. They have more varieties of cookies then imagined.
Drinks (not twisted): I don’t even need to touch this one because everybody has their own ideas and popular recipes. I do recommend using gallon jugs that have their own ice in separate containers to keep drinks from getting watery.
So that’s my checkered-cloth story for now, and I’m sticking to it,