This past Saturday, my church’s women’s group sponsored a family day at Hanging Rock State Park, here in North Carolina. It was incredible! It’s such a beautiful place. We had perfect weather (thank you cold front) and perfect company all day. It turned out to be a girls day with my sister and one of my daughters, Emily. We hiked 7.5 miles on moderate trails. It totally kicked our butts! More of that to come.
By the time we had finished all the waterfall trails, we were starving. I had a blast packing a picnic lunch for us. Since we are homeschool graduates and no longer going on field trips, I don’t get to pack picnics as often, so this was a treat. If homeschooling has taught me one thing, it’s how to pack a great picnic. When my kids were younger I read Karen Andreola’s book The Charlotte Mason Companion and she really inspired me about packing great picnics for your family. Give it a read!
Picnics don’t have to be complicated and super fancy to be great. Some of the best picnics that I’ve packed were simple and thrown together at the last minute. This one, I planned out a little. I knew we would need protein and lots of it since I knew we’d be starving from all the hiking. I also knew we’d want something a little sweet. Here’s the menu:
Homemade Chicken Salad
Whole Wheat Bread
Homemade Pudding Cups
Lots of water bottles (Several frozen)
I used my chicken salad recipe, (I’ll be sure to upload that soon) which is so yummy! But feel free to use store-bought if you need to. I know what you’re thinking, it’s mayonnaise based and not always the best thing to bring. I’ll post packing tips at the bottom to prevent anything from going bad.
The pudding cups were super easy. I’ve been eating a lot of Oui yogurt lately, and I have lots of little glass jars that were just waiting to be used. I made Jello Chocolate pudding and layered it with Cool Whip. Told you it was easy! Then I covered it with plastic wrap and taped it all the way around under the lip of the jar.
To pack it all up! I used two different coolers, both were nylon. I have a small pink one that I used for the cold stuff. I put a frozen cooler ice pack on the bottom and the frozen water bottles on the sides. Then I put the chicken salad on the bottom with another cooler pack on top of it. Then I placed the jars of pudding with another cooler pack in-between them. Then I placed the rest of the water bottles in the bag. Everything was snug and cold. It all stayed so cold that my chicken salad was almost frozen!
The larger nylon cooler contained everything else:
A tarp and tablecloth to cover the picnic table
Plates, napkins, forks, spoons, and a knife
And the outside pockets contained the sunscreen and bug spray
That’s it! I told you it was simple. But it turned out to be quite the spread. Not only that, but we were full the rest of the day. When you’re hiking, make sure to have lots of water, more than you think you need and plenty of good protein so you’re not starving when you tackle the super tough trail after lunch.