Pack the Perfect Picnic

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The warm, balmy days of summer are perfect for getting outside, engaging in your favorite activities and having a picnic in a nice shady spot.

A picnic is a classic summertime outing, but the art of packing a great picnic seems to be getting lost in the shuffle of today's fast-paced lifestyle. It may be easier to grab a bag of chips, a pre-packed cold cut and cracker combo and a few cans of soda, but if you want to really impress with your picnic stylings, you need to pay more attention to the details.

Before jumping to the actual food menu for the picnic, let's look at some basic information you'll need to make your picnic safe, convenient and fun.

First, let's go over some commonsense safety practices. After all, you don't want the stand-out memory of your picnic to be the trip to the emergency room afterward. Pack and serve your food safely to avoid food poisoning.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. You can accomplish this by packing two separate containers: a cooler for cold food and a separate container for the other parts of the meal. If you have foods that need to be kept hot, the second carrier should be insulated. For safe foods like bread and crackers, you can use a regular wooden basket or canvas picnic tote.

If you want a fashionable spread, there are tons of cute picnic carriers and accessories available at department stores and home design centers. You can order a color-coordinated picnic set from a catalog or mix and match all your accessories from a discount or dollar store.

Whatever your style, just make sure you have enough plastic utensils, paper plates, napkins, and cups for all your guests. And don't forget to make certain all your food containers close and seal properly.