Summer is for picnics, and what is more frugal than packing a lunch, gathering up some outdoor toys and heading to the lake for a picnic. But can picnics get boring? Perhaps if you pack the same old food and do the same old thing every time.
If you are looking for something to do that is not going to cost you a bundle, here are some ideas for your next frugal outing.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Equipment to Enjoy a Picnic
The thing that makes picnics so great is you just do not need a lot of equipment to make a great picnic and have it be frugal too. Here is a list of what we take on our picnics and few frugal ideas to help keep costs down.
Ice Chest – this is pretty much mandatory, with hot summer days, perishables go bad quickly so do not take any chances be sure to pack your foods in one of these. Ice chests are pretty affordable starting at around $10 they will last thru countless picnics and pay for themselves over and over.
Ice – Of course you will need ice for your ice chest but do not buy it, and don’t think you need to freeze all your own ice cubes to keep your food cold. Save beverage containers such as plastic milk jugs and juice containers,fill them full of water and place them in the freezer. They make the perfect ice pack and are reusable too.
Utensils – We use plastic plates, cups and forks and spoons. All of which are reusable making them a frugal choice. No need to buy fancy just go to your local Wal-Mart.
Napkins – You can go with disposable for this since everything else is reusable or you can make cloth napkins. It is on my to do list but for now we use paper.
A Few Blankets and a Table Cloth – We have a couple of old blankets and a plastic table cloth that are set aside just for this purpose. This way if there are no picnic tables available we have blankets to sit on the ground with. Sometimes that is more fun anyway 😉
Drinks – We just use old drink containers from juice or milk and take our own water or other drink.
There are few optional things you might want to take along with you
Portable Barbeque – These can be a lot of fun and are usually inexpensive too. You will need to take charcoal with you too, so this can up the price, but if barbeque is your thing then this can add a bit of fun and flavor to your picnic.
Games and Toys – No picnic would be fun without some games to play so take the baseball, Frisbee and squirt guns.
Shoes for Hiking – Many of the state and federal parks have hiking trails and this can be a great way to walk off a fantastic picnic meal.
Different Ideas to Make Picnics New and Exciting
Explore all the Parks in your Area – There is no reason to go to the same park every picnic that you pack. Make it a point to explore every park in your driving area. All you will be out is the cost of gas, and you will have a chance to sample the unique view of different parks and the reasons they were built.
Do no Limit Yourself to City Parks – City parks are great, most have walking paths, play areas, and many have swimming areas as well, but there are a vast number of state and federal parks in every area of the country to be explored. What better way to get to see and know more about the area you live in than to take a picnic and explore?
Create a Theme for Your Picnic – Traditional picnic foods are great, but they can get boring after a while. Explore new ideas such as having a Mexican picnic, and a Japanese style picnic where all the foods are finger foods. You can also do a bit of research on the park you are visiting and perhaps plan a menu around that. For instance if you are visiting a park that was an old quarry, learn more about the people that used to work in the quarry, and fix foods like they may have taken with them to eat while they worked. This is great way to teach your children a little bit about the diverse cultures of our country.
Don’t Forget Your Back Yard – You do not have to drive to have fun and some of the best picnics can be had right at home. Stretch a bit and break out the tent, yard toys, and hose and make it into an adventure, the kids will have more fun than they could have driving a hundred miles.
I hope this gives you a few ideas about what you can do to plan a fun and frugal summer day. There are so many places to go and things to do you should not limit yourself to staying at home in front of the TV when the weather is warm. Get out and make your own adventure it is free!
For some great recipes visit the Thrifty Hearts Forums and check out the recipe files.