Pack your perfect (socially distanced) picnic


The Food and Drink team give our top picnic recommendations

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Image by Pxhere

By Annabel Mulliner and Lucy Cooper

With the lockdown slowly easing and the sun continuing to shine, we now finally have something to look forward to - some (socially distanced) picnics with our mates. Given that this is an occasion we’ve been waiting patiently for since March, it really is an excuse to go all out with our food - especially seeing as you have an excellent reason not to be sharing your posh crisps around…

Just remember to picnic responsibly; we should still be doing all we can to social distance. So if your usual spot is looking busy, try and go elsewhere. One thing’s for sure - picnicking is a safer bet than BBQ’s for the time being. Having everyone bring their own food keeps things much safer and simpler. And make sure you fit your picnic shopping into your weekly shop, although as we shall explore, there are some delivery options available elsewhere if you’re in a fix.

Without further ado, we’re here to help you put together the perfect (socially distanced) picnic.

Every good 00s romance film has a beautiful picnic scene that inspires even the most frugal amongst us. Although the romance part of this might be slightly harder to get in a socially distanced world, that doesn’t mean the food has to be lacking in class. There are several places that offer ready made picnic sets, which have everything you could dream of nestled inside a beautiful picnic box- perfect for the insta. It’s worth having a look at your local delis to see if they offer this service. In York, Henshelwoods Delicatessen (based in the city centre) has 11 different combinations of menu to choose from. Although currently closed, they are exploring options to open in the coming days, so keep your eyes out. Local favourite Brew & Brownie are offering an irresistible afternoon tea package for two, consisting of finger sandwiches, scones and a selection of cakes, all for £35.

If you want an even easier option, Marks and Spencer have two separate picnic sets, which can be delivered to your door. Notably, the “Tea in Kensington Hamper” comes with scones, tea, and a Victoria sponge. How better to live out your picnic dreams than with a high tea in the park?

If you would rather individualise your outdoor feast, the supermarkets are beckoning. As a supermarket deli counter assistant, I can assure you that delis are made for constructing the perfect picnic. With scotch eggs, pork pies and sausage rolls, it is certainly worth a peek at your local deli counter before you head off to the fields. With the current pandemic, some deli counters are closed, so best to check before you travel. Waitrose and Morrisons are open for sure. If they are temporarily closed, all is not lost- the shop floor often sells many similar lines, just without the option to choose the perfect sized slice. Waitrose are currently running a ‘Scrumptious Summer’ range, with several different types of cocktail sausages and unusually flavoured quiches hitting the shelves (I’m looking at you, courgette and feta quiche!).

Now, you’ve got your grub sorted: time for the drinks. It’s time to dig out that insulated lunchbox you had at secondary school, for the higher purpose of keeping those beers nice and cool. If you’re really looking to go that extra mile and have the most bourgeois piss-up that your local park has ever seen, then why not fill your bottle up with a ready-to-go cocktail? Get creative with any spirits you have to hand - perhaps that bottle of vodka that was primed ready for a summer term of pre-drinking? I’m lucky enough to have mint growing in the garden, so mojitos have become a lockdown staple. Mint is fairly easy to grow, and the motivation of a tasty bev at the end should be more than enough motivation to get you green-fingered. So go ahead and try out this strawberry mojito recipe while the sun is still shining. But please, stay hydrated and drink responsibly!

Recipe: Picnic Strawberry Mojito

Ingredients (serves one)

Small handful of mint leaves
Juice of half a lime
2 tsp sugar
Small handful of strawberries
1 cup ice
Soda water to taste (or lemonade, or tonic… let’s not be fussy)
2 shots white rum

  1. Pop your mint, lime juice, sugar and strawberries in a glass. Muddle them all together, whether that be with a rolling pin, end of a wooden spoon, or a proper muddler.
  2. Add your rum and mix. Normally, you’d continue to make this in a glass. But to make it portable, pour the mixture into your bottle.
  3. Chuck a load of ice into either a resealable bag or a tightly bound, clean dishcloth. Bash your ice into small pieces using a rolling pin.
  4. The ice should now be in small enough pieces to add to your bottle. Make this easier by transferring the ice into a jug before pouring.
  5. Add soda water to taste and give it a little shake before you sip.

Tips: Using an insulated bottle will keep your drink fresh for hours. If you’re not in on the Chilly’s trend don’t fear - I ordered mine from TK Maxx for £6. Ensure you properly wash your bottle afterwards to make sure no mint leaves get stuck inside.

Whether you decide to go all out with the options above, or scoff Doritos with a can of Carling instead, we hope that you can find the time to unwind and relax as term draws to an end.