One of our favourite things to do as a family on weekends is go for a picnic, although more often than not, our picnic’s ends up being far too much effort and expense for something that is supposed to be relaxing and simple!

cottonwood-picnic-by-the-lake

Is this not the most beautiful spot to have picnic?!

At the start of Autumn we decided, very last minute, to wander on down to the lake (technically it’s a reservoir but we call it a lake) for a little picnic, on what was a perfectly mild and sunny Sunday. Since it was totally unplanned, we just grabbed our picnic basket, big “picnic quilt” and did a quick detour past the local grocers to grab some fresh bread, fruit, and drinks.

It was the quickest set up and pack up of any picnic we’ve ever done, and in all honesty, it turned out to be the most enjoyable! It then dawned on me that after all these years, we’d made our picnics far more difficult than they needed to be: too much food; too much expense; too much gear; too much time spent packing and unpacking.

cottonwood-picnic-by-the-lake

So here’s my shortlist for a quick and simple picnic, that also won’t cost more than dinner at an expensive restaurant! All this depends on how many people but I personally feel the simpler the better (and more relaxing):

  • A large fresh bread loaf. Unless you’re gluten intolerant, try to get the good, French bread if you can as it takes all its accompaniments to the next level.
  • A selection of fruit. Keep things simple and get fruit you really love, that also doesn’t require too much cutting up. We went with berries, apples and watermelon.
  • A dip and something to top your fresh bread slices. Things like tomato, cucumber or cheese are ideal and don’t need to be kept cold and won’t spoil too quickly. We did tzadziki topped with fresh cucumber slices and a good pinch of salt.
  • A thermos for coffee and tea, plus container of milk and fresh sparkling water.
  • A block of chocolate or other sweet treat (if you feel like it).
  • A big picnic quilt. Read further down for why I’m a HUGE fan of using a big bed quilt instead of a typical picnic blanket/rug!!

cottonwood-picnic-basket

Truly, it was absolutely enough for a beautiful lunch overlooking the lake. Everything fit in the picnic basket and 1 x cooler bag, nothing was wasted and it didn’t take an hour to pack it, nor pack it away at the end. The secret is having a good picnic basket that has all your plates, cutlery, salt & pepper, bottle opener, then all you need to do is throw in your napkins, a cutting board, cutting knife and some drinking glasses (if it doesn’t come with any) and you’re done.

As I mentioned earlier, we only ever use big bed quilts on our picnics for several reasons. Firstly, because they are big enough for everyone to fit on. No need for multiple blankets side by side. I use a King bed quilt that I bought from Wallace Cotton in New Zealand, and it can literally fit 6-8 people comfortably. Secondly, they’re much more comfy as they typically have a layer of wadding in between the fabric. Plus fabric is much softer than those itchy woolen or synthetic picnic blankets out there. Lastly, and crucially, they’re so easily washable! I’ve had our quilt since 2011 and it has taken such a beating and had so much wear (doing double duty as a bed quilt and picnic rug), and yet it comes up 100% new after every wash. Truly, using a bed quilt as a picnic rug is a game changer. Sure it’s slightly heavier, but I roll it up and put a tie around it so it’s easy to carry.

cottonwood-picnic-by-the-lake

So, next time you’re planning a picnic, think about keeping things simple and I’m sure you’ll find it so much more relaxing and enjoyable! Love to know if anyone has any other good picnic tips?

Nicki Dobrzynski

Interior and lifestyle photographer. Interior Designer. Stylist. Mum of 2. Wife of 1. Always with a camera in my hand. Learning to live a slower life in the beautiful Southern Highlands, NSW.

July 21, 2017

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