Whether your idea of a picnic involves a wicker basket with a red and white checkered blanket or just some friends gathered to eat and socialize at a local park, nobody wants to find bugs in their food or discover that the apple pie has spoiled in the heat. While North Town Home Services values your comfort, we prioritize your safety. That’s why we’ve created this guide to keep your food fresh at picnics this summer.
Before you even start to rinse a piece of fruit or unwrap a package of hamburger patties, you should wash your hands with soap and warm water. You also need to make sure the utensils and plates you’re using are clean and kept separate when you move between different food items. Germs and bacteria can spread easily, especially if you’re using the same knife to cut strawberries as you are to cut raw chicken breasts. Some additional ways to keep food fresh and sanitary before you get to the actual picnic include:
- Pack perishable items in a cooler full of ice. Wait to pack your cooler until you’re ready to walk out the door and fill it with as much ice as possible.
- Store drinks in a separate cooler from the perishable food items. Since people usually grab drinks from a cooler more frequently, this will prevent as much heat from getting into the food cooler.
- Cook all food well enough in advance to give it time to chill before packing in the cooler, and wrap any raw meat twice to prevent any leaks. Raw meat should also sit at the bottom of the cooler so even if there’s a leak, it will be less likely to contaminate the other items. Any items that need to thaw out should do so in the refrigerator, as opposed to the counter.
Once you’re in the car, and at the picnic, you should select a shady or cool spot to leave your cooler. That way the ice won’t melt as fast, keeping the contents colder for a longer period of time.
It may sound like common sense—but always keep your plates and cups covered to prevent bugs from getting into them. This simple action can save you a lot of time and trouble down the road. Once you’re at the picnic, you can also keep food fresh by:
- Leaving it in the cooler until you’re ready to eat it. Don’t just put food out on the tables as soon as you arrive because that will cause it to spoil sooner, and it gives bugs more opportunity to sample your dishes.
- Using smaller serving plates than normal. This means you can replenish empty plates with fresh items from the cooler more often, instead of letting a huge plate of food go to waste.
You should also bring some soap, water, and paper towels, or at least hand sanitizer, to make sure everyone is keeping their hands clean when serving and eating the picnic food.
After you pull the food out of the cooler to cook and serve it, do not let it sit out longer than two hours. If the temperature outside is higher than 90 degrees, food should only be out for an hour. Any food that has been sitting in the heat for longer than two hours should be thrown out. While it may look and smell fine, that doesn’t mean bacteria hasn’t already started growing. One way to avoid wasting so much food is to consider bringing non-perishable items, like cookies, instead of a pie or pudding.
Plan Your Picnics in the Chicagoland Area
As a family owned and operated company, North Town Home Services cares deeply about our customers and our community. By taking the time to make smarter and safer choices when it comes to preparing and serving food at your summer picnics, we think you’ll also have more fun! While our services center around HVAC and appliance repair and installation, we want your quality of life to be incredible when you’re not at home as well.
For more information on how to keep your picnic food fresh and safe this summer, contact North Town Home Services today!