Even as parts of the world are starting to reopen, Los Angeles remains under stay-at-home orders for now. So we’re still having to get creative in the fun department. I love virtually connecting with friends and enjoying a good binge watch. But lately, I’ve been craving less screen time and more time outdoors, which is why I’m sharing my pandemic picnic ideas.
I’ve also been in a rut when it comes to cooking. There are only so many meals I can make and eat at home before I get bored. And then there’s the whole clean-up process, which feels like a torturous Groundhog Day. Oh, how I miss L.A. restaurants!
The other day, I was reorganizing our storage closet, when I came across our picnic basket. I actually felt a spark of excitement, which is so rare these days. Yes, I know how silly it sounds that I got excited over a picnic basket. That’s just where I’m ranking on the stir-crazy scale right now!
I actually bought this picnic basket for my husband’s birthday one year, at his request. I felt like it was a pretty lame gift, but he loves it and wants to bring it everywhere. He’d always pack it full of delicious treats before a day at the beach or wine tasting. Something about finding this old friend inspired me with pandemic picnic ideas.
What I love about these pandemic picnic ideas is that they’re a fun way to gather people together, whether you’re practicing social distancing or are part of a quarantine team. And it can work anywhere! Whether you live in an apartment with a balcony or a home with a backyard, or are venturing to the beach or park, you can easily make your own pandemic picnic. All you need is a few items, that you probably already have handy. Add a good bottle of wine and some of your favorite, easy-to-eat foods and you’re all set.
4 Things What You Need
- Pick Your Location: Our apartment has a rooftop patio so I figured this would be a cool spot to spread out and sit on the “ground” with the sunset as a beautiful backdrop. No patio? No problem. You can sprawl out pretty much anywhere you’d like (provided it’s open and you’re not violating any stay-at-home orders).
- Picnic Basket/Cooler: I ordered ours from Amazon a while back and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made! I love that it comes with essentials like plates, silverware and plastic wine glasses. It also includes cloth napkins, a lined blanket (although I’m not using it here) and even has these little salt and pepper shakers you can use for seasoning on-the-go. If you don’t have a picnic basket or don’t want to purchase one, a cooler or reusable shopping bag can work just fine, depending on what kind of items you want to transport. If you’re picnicking at home and not going very far from your kitchen, you can probably get by without one.
- Blanket: Our picnic basket comes with a lined blanket which is super handy if you encounter any wet ground. Since we weren’t going far, I just grabbed one of the quilts we keep near the patio for chilly evenings. Any quilt, blanket or beach towel you don’t mind putting on the ground is perfect. If you’re like me, you’ll most likely spill something on it, so the less you care about this particular item, the better.
- Plates, Napkins, Drinkware and Serveware: Any kind of disposable/reusable plates, utensils, etc. will work. It’s all about personal preference and what works for you. Since we were picnicking at home, I used real wine glasses instead of plastic ones and also pulled out a few of my favorite serveware pieces just for fun.
Now for the best part – the food!
But first, Rosé
I’ve been on a big rosé kick lately. I’d like to say it’s because of the warming temperatures, but I think it’s mostly because I’ve been catching up on Summer House. Regardless, I love the bright, crisp flavor of this Yes Way Rosé. It’s a great wine when you need something versatile that can pair nicely with several different items.
3 Recipes for Pandemic Picnic Ideas
Pretty much any food can work for a pandemic picnic. It just needs to be easy to transport and able to be eaten without a table. Below, I’m sharing the three recipes I used for our pandemic picnic.
Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, but something about a picnic just screams pimiento cheese. It’s become one of my very favorite warm-weather foods, even though I despised it as a child. Funny how tastes change! I’m sharing my go-to pimiento cheese recipe
I’m sharing my recipe below.I’ve used several different recipes over the years and have kind of adapted favorite aspects of each to make my version.
Pimiento Cheese Recipe
Pro Tip: Make it the night before you plan on serving so the flavors have a chance to come together. A few hours in the fridge works, but the next-day flavor is so much better!
- 16oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 8oz. fat free cream cheese
- 1 jar of roasted red peppers or pimientos (Jar size is based on taste and your desired pimiento:cheese ratio. I personally think the roasted red peppers are more flavorful than pimientos)
- Seasonings (I never measure these out. I just sprinkle and taste until I get the flavor I want)
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Frank’s hot sauce
- Mix all ingredients together by hand or with a hand mixer.
- Top with green onions and serve with Ritz crackers, celery or tortillas for dipping.
Low-carb Italian Sandwiches
I stumbled upon these low-carb Italian sandwiches on Pinterest and immediately began salivating. I just had to try them! Not only are they delicious, they’re easy to make and a colorful addition to your picnic-scape. If you’re not worried about the carbs, you could easily make these with tortillas to create bite-size roll-up sandwiches, too.
In my book, you can never have enough shrimp. Or any seafood, for that matter.
I think shrimp cocktail is a perfect summer food. It’s refreshing and packs a little kick if you like some extra horseradish in your cocktail sauce. And just I love the presentation in a martini glass for a little touch of glam!
If you’re going far from home or worried about using glass, plastic wine or martini glasses work great. Or, you could even get the same kind of look using a fun bowl. Just be careful about keeping the shrimp cold if traveling. Pandemic or not, warm seafood is guaranteed to ruin any party.
What I enjoyed most about this picnic is that putting it together gave me something to look forward to! I never realized how much I thrived on that until we were under quarantine and my social calendar became non-existent.
The change of scenery made me feel like we were doing something special, which really lifted my mood. Our picnic was so fun and really easy to pull together. I’m looking forward to having more (socially distant) picnics with friends as the city starts to reopen.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or to share your own pandemic picnic ideas. I hope you’re inspired to get outside and connect with your crew, too!