Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Treat kids to picnic lunch on your next hike

If bringing a picnic lunch, you’ll want to make sure the food is kept in insulated containers so it stays cool enough not to spoil. Also, keep food in solid, tightly sealed containers so they don’t leak, get squashed, or attract animals when you take off your backpack at a rest stop. There’s no need to give up your lunch to a clever squirrel.

When selecting a place to picnic, first consider the weather. If hot, get shade, and if breezy, find trees or boulders that serve as a wind break. Next, make sure there are no bugs nearby, particularly ants. This makes sandy ground and trees with sap bad places to picnic. Look for an area free of branches and sharp rocks, which will make sitting uncomfortable. Finally, pick a spot with a good, memorable view. You might be lucky enough to hike a trail with picnic tables, but the farther you go into the backcountry, the chances of finding one are nil.

There are a number of easy picnic lunches you can bring:
g Tuna fish sandwich – Carry a self-opening can of tuna and mayo packets like those found at fast food restaurants. Do some creative mixing in a plastic bag then place the tuna fish atop crackers or a whole wheat mini bagel. You can carry bread, too, but it is likely to get squished.
g Other sandwiches – Spread peanut butter, jams, jellies or cheese over hard crackers. Ship biscuits work quite well.
g Salami sandwich – Salami tends to last a long time, even in hot weather. It tastes great on hard rolls or crackers. Bologna usually doesn’t last in warm weather.
g Jerky with cheese and crackers – Various jerky make a great, high protein meat to serve with crackers and cheese.

Add dried fruit and cookies or a candy bar for desert to any of these meals. Be aware that chocolate can melt in the heat, so it needs to be placed in an insulated container and kept cool.

Don’t forget to bring napkins and a blanket or table cloth with you.

Read more about day hiking with children in the guidebook Hikes with Tykes.