My New Favorite Picnic!

A little about me… I love to plan, I like to shop, I hate to actually prepare. (Well hate is too strong of a word, but preparing meals is not something I do for fun.) I especially don’t like preparing picnic lunches. I want to just throw it in the car and go, which is why charcuterie board picnics are so glorious!

Now my two boards thus far have lots of room for artistic improvement but I still think they look pretty dang good. Better than pb&js and a bag of chips, right? And you can keep it simple with just a handful of things or go all out with tons of different snacks. The possibilities are endless! And seriously the only prep is slicing any fruit, veggies, or bread if you want to. (You’ll notice on our second picnic I got less stuff and only cut the veggies… and it was still great!)

Mother’s Day in Yosemite National Park

This first picnic was on Mother’s Day. We went up to Yosemite with my parents to enjoy the beautiful day and a nice lunch. We ended up driving around the Valley floor one whole time in search of a picnic spot. I started envisioning having this fancy charcuterie picnic on the side of the road as tons of cars drove by! We didn’t realize how busy Yosemite is on Mother’s Day. But amazingly, on our second lap, we pulled into Cathedral Beach Picnic area and found the most amazing spot! We couldn’t believe how perfect it was. A table was open right along the Merced River’s edge. (Now that I think about it, it was just past lunchtime so I think the crowds were thinning out. Might be worth planning a slightly later lunch!) There was a little offshoot of the river that the kids could splash around in without fear of the current. And we had incredible views of El Capitan and Sentinel Rock.

I did make it a little fancier with flowers, lots of different foods, and even little cans of sparkling wine, because I wanted it to be really special for my mom. She absolutely loved it! And it really was so easy, plus the entire family loved digging into all of the goodies!

My Birthday Celebration in King’s Canyon National Park

Fast forward three weeks. We has such a great time on this picnic in Yosemite that when Rob asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I immediately thought “Picnic!” We also got a National Parks annual pass so we wanted to keep putting it to use. For this day-trip we were off to King’s Canyon. I did all of the shopping a few days in advance at Trader Joe’s and simplified the menu just a bit. It was a good variety for just the four of us and it still felt fancy and fun!We had debated driving further into the park, but due to everyone being hungry and the storm clouds rolling in, we decided to stop and eat at Big Stump picnic area. In retrospect, this decision made our day! Within ten minutes of setting up it started pouring. Thankfully our table was well-covered so we got to enjoy our lunch in the middle of a beautiful storm. Then when the rain let up we were able to quickly pack it up and drive into the Canyon without any problems… other than a very wet five year old that was having fun playing in the rain!

Moral of the story… if you’re looking to get out and have a day that feels special but is very little work, I highly recommend a charcuterie board picnic!

Here’s what you need plus my recommended favorites from Trader Joe’s!

  1. Cutting board (or any plate will work)
  2. Table cloth or blanket to cover table
  3. Plates & cups
  4. Two cheeses (keep them whole and bring a knife or cheese slicer… it’s more fun, less work, and the cheese won’t dry out.)
    *Creamy Toscano Cheese soaked in Syrah
    *Cotswold Double Gloucester with onions & chives
  5. One or two cured meats (it’s not charcuterie without it!)
  6. Loaf of French bread (sliced or not… we enjoyed it both ways)
  7. Box of crackers
    *Stone Ground Wheat Crackers
  8. Can of whole olives (We love the green ones in the can from Trader Joe’s. They are not pungent like the marinated ones in a jar, and at TJ’s the can has a peel off lid so no need for a can opener!)
  9. Two or three types of veggies cut and ready to eat (We like Persian cucumbers and mini bell peppers)
  10. Dip for the veggies (we like hummus)
  11. Fruit (fresh or dried – I recommend berries because they just need to be washed but not cut.)
    *Sweetened Dried Lemon Slices (these were fun to try… though you can’t eat much of the bag. They can be used one cakes or cocktails too!)
  12. Nuts
    *Sesame Honey Almonds
  13. Cookies
    *Meyers Lemon Cookie Thins
  14. Fancy & fun drink(s)
    *Simpler Wines – Peach (canned 4 packs)
    *Italian Blood Orange Soda
  15. You’ll also need an ice chest, a reusable bag (to bring the extras home), and a disposable bag for easy clean up

My final tip: If you going shopping specifically for this picnic, keep all of the non-perishables packed in the grocery bag, and stack all of the things that need to be refrigerated in an area of the fridge so when it’s time to go you can just throw it in the ice chest, grab your bag, and go! Bon appetit!

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