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Packing The Perfect Picnic

Contributed by: News Canada

(NC) - Pastrami. Rye bread. A bottle of wine. The ingredients for a picnic may seem like a simple decision, but keeping them fresh in the summer heat can be slightly more challenging.

Whether it's a family outing or a romantic affair, home economist and author of "Lick the Spoon!" Mairlyn Smith offers suggestions for easily prepared meals and efficient packing tips to make your picnic perfect.

According to Smith, there are three main ingredients for packing the perfect picnic. "The rule of thumb for food safety is to keep hot things hot, and cold things cold," says Smith. "Always pack straight from the refrigerator to the cooler." Secondly, don't leave any food in the trunk, she warns, even if it's in a cooler. And never pack anything breakable. "Recyclable plastic plates, cups and drinks in Tetra Pak packages are your best choice," says Smith. "Plastic wine glasses or wine in Tetra Pak packages are available for romantics too."

A family picnic is a chance to eat fun and healthy foods. However, food safety becomes an issue on those hazy days of summer.

"If you're preparing roasted chicken or potato salad, do so the day before your picnic," says Smith. Chilling all food items for a full 24-hours in advance is the key to avoiding illness. "After eating potato salad, people often blame stomach upset on the mayonnaise content. But it's actually potatoes themselves that spoil in the summer heat," warns Smith. Chilling foods throughout will keep them cooler, longer.

At those picnics where three-legged races and tug-of-war are favourite sport activities, you're sure to have a thirsty bunch. One-litre products in Tetra Pak packages save space normally used by dozens of small-sized drinks, and they double as ice blocks if packed frozen.

For crowds like this, Smith likes to keep things simple. "Pack a few main dishes that everyone will enjoy," she recommends. "One giant salad is easier to pack than individual portions."

Once the food has been packed, frozen Tetra Pak packages can keep it chilled for a longer time period. And as the fruit juice or milk thaws, kids can enjoy ice slushies and ice cream as an afternoon treat. Since many parks restrict the use of glass containers, beverages in Tetra Pak packages are a perfect unbreakable option.

A romantic picnic requires more than finding the perfect picnic spotand avoiding ants! Besides a delicate tablecloth, candles or fresh flowers to set the scene, packing sensuous foods to nibble on is the key.

Smith suggests shopping for finger foods like strawberries, grapes or Brie cheese with crackers. "Take a special trip to the deli the day before your outing and choose smoked meat slices, crusty rolls or pate," she recommends.

To help keep the picnic basket cool, pack frozen Tetra Pak packages. The food will remain fresh for a longer period, allowing for a leisurely, romantic occasion.

Leak-proof Tetra Pak packages are available in flavours from pineapple passion fruit to pink grapefruit. "The flavour is important since after you've finished lunching, simply snip the lid off the thawing Tetra Pak and enjoy a sorbet," suggests Smith.

"Finally, for any picnic, remember that after a long day in the park or under a tree, if food has not been refrigerated for two hours, it should be thrown away," says Smith. "Don't think about taking things home."

For a free book of more than 20 delicious summer food and drink recipes for picnics and at home, please write to

Tetra Pak Summer Sizzle Cookbook
1075 Bay Street, Suite 810
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2B1.


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