This post is sponsored by Maple Leaf Foods.
Finally!! It took an entire year (give or take a week) for my friend Sarah and I to have our picnic on Centre Island. We really wanted to go last summer, but our schedules just refused to line up and it never happened. We had to wait through the miserable winter months to start planning again, but we finally got together last week.
I didn’t end up making the Sweet Citrus Tarts that I had planned on taking. I just wasn’t in the mood for citrus this time. Instead, we went with a favourite foods theme because… well, why not?
The star of our picnic menu was Lobster Rolls (recipe below)! It took me a few tries to get the recipe right, but the end result was delicious!
Traditionally, lobster rolls are made with New England style rolls that look like a fat piece of toast with a slit in the top. I haven’t seen those rolls here in Canada before, but you don’t need them to make a good lobster roll. A plain hot dog bun works just as well! I used Wonder White Hotdog Buns from Wonder Bread.
Now, if I’m being honest, lobster rolls are probably not the easiest things to pack for a picnic. They are made with seafood and mayonnaise – two things that will go rancid quickly if not kept very cool. To combat this, I made sure to to refrigerate the cooked lobster meat pretty soon after cooking, and I packed everything with multiple frozen ice packs in an insulated bag.
We also packed LAY’S Classic Potato Chips (because they are so good with lobster rolls!), a variety of drinks, macarons (store-bought) and brownie parfaits. I usually serve these brownie parfaits in a tall glass, but I thought mason jars were cuter (and more practical) for a picnic.
Neither of us have had to pack for a picnic in a really long time, so we made a few mistakes and learned a few things along the way. Here are my 5 essential tips to help you have the best beach picnic ever!
5 Tips for Beach Picnics
#1: Pick your blanket carefully
Somehow, neither Sarah nor I own a proper picnic blanket. So I ended up bringing a small tablecloth instead. BIG MISTAKE! It was so small that we couldn’t fit all of the food and ourselves on the blanket.
Don’t want to end up with a sand-covered rear end? Pack a big blanket. If you’re worried about the sand being damp, take a shower curtain liner to put under the blanket. The waterproof liner will prevent you from getting a soggy bum.
#2: Prepare for Predators
No, I’m not talking about the creepy guys who ogle women at the beach. I’m talking about these guys:
Oh the majestic seagull.
The Beyoncé of the bird world – these guys have attitude!! Just look at the sass this one is giving me! Believe me when I say that these guys want your lunch, and they will wait patiently for you to stop paying attention long enough so they can take it.
Want to avoid a staring content with one of these guys? Don’t leave your food sitting out. If they can smell it, they’ll want it. It’s best to take out what you need from your cooler, and enjoy your meal one dish at a time. Once you’re done, throw the garbage into a bag, tie it up, and toss it. We left our garbage bag open just long enough for us to run down to the water and wash our feet, and when we got back there was a seagull trying to eat it.
He was not impressed when I shooed him away…
#3: Stay hydrated
On a hot summer day at the beach, alcohol is not your friend.
Actually, alcohol is prohibited in some public places, so going non-alcoholic makes things easier all around. I packed a fruity Shirley Temple-inspired punch for our picnic, along with some soda and lots of water. Beaches can get a lot hotter than a grassy park, so plan to drink more than you might at a regular picnic.
#4: Pack coasters for your cups
You know what sucks? Spilling drinks on your pretty summer clothes. Which I’ve done, So. Many. Times. Avoid the issues all together by providing a sturdy base for your glasses to sit on. Coasters can add weight to your bag, but it’s so much easier to balance a glass on a coaster than on an uneven blanket. The coaster needs to have some weight to work – those thin plastic or paper ones won’t work here.
#5: Keep everything really, really cold
Ok, so I’m pretty sure this one is obvious, but it’s so important. Especially when you’re packing seafood or food with mayonnaise (clearly, I like to live dangerously).
Start by using a good quality cooler or cooler bag to pack your food. Woven picnic baskets are cute, but unless it’s insulated, leave it at home. Adding an ice pack or two is also a good idea.
On top of that, I like to freeze my water bottles before adding them to the cooler. Not only does this provide extra ice, but by the time you’re ready to eat, the water will have melted enough that you can have sips of icy water to cool you down.
Like I said before, beaches get very hot. The sand absorbs the heat from the sun, and makes everything thaw out faster. So eat your most perishable items first, and keep the cooler closed to keep out the heat.
So there you go, my 5 essential tips to have a great beach picnic! For more great recipe tips, visit the Lets Do Picnic website. Do you have any tips of your own? Share them in the comments below, I could still learn a thing or two.
Lobster Roll Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups cooked lobster meat , claw meat is ok, but not my favourite
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tsp lemon juice , use more if using claw meat
- 1/8 tsp celery salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter , melted
- black pepper , to taste
- 1 package Wonder White Hotdog Buns
- 2 tbsp salted butter , room temperature
- If you're using lobster meat that needs to be chopped (like tails or claws), chop the meat into 1/2 inch pieces.
- In a bowl, combine the lobster with the mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery salt, melted butter and black pepper. Taste the mixture, and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Toast your hotdog buns, then spread the inside with the room temperature butter.
- Spoon in the lobster salad filling, and enjoy.
IF PACKING FOR A PICNIC:
- Once you make the lobster salad, spoon it into a container with a tight-fitting lid and put in the fridge immediately. You don't want this to sit out at room temperature at all. You will toast and butter your hotdog buns before you leave, but they need to cool before you pack them or they will become soggy. Take a spoon to help you assemble the rolls when you arrive at your picnic site. Keep everything cold, and consume as soon as possible to avoid spoilage.
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This post is sponsored by Maple Leaf Foods.
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