Thursday, July 7, 2011

The GOURMET Picnic--the KEY to low cost "vacations"...

I'm a firm believer that it doesn't cost a lot of money to have fun!I LOVE vacations or "day-cations" (aka.  all day outings)  What are some of the biggest costs in "outings": Food & Lodging.  It doesn't matter what kind of "cation" you are WILL impact your expenses.

I know it is easier to go through McDonald's (or other fast food) and order from their dollar menu.  BUT that can get expensive!!  Why not consider your own "Quarter Menu"?  Bring your own GOURMET picnic breakfast/lunch/dinner from home?  I'm NOT suggesting you live on sandwiches!  That would get really boring-FAST!

Everyone needs to stretch their legs on a road trip. Consider looking for a park instead of a restaurant---where you will only end up sitting some more!?! They provided picnic tables, usually a decent view or GREAT view and room to stretch your legs. If you have children, it can be a 'sanitiy break' after being confined to the car. The children can run and play on the playground while you prepare the food. If you don't have children, it could be a chance to discover a *new* romantic stroll in the park!
GOURMET PICNIC *essential* items you need:
1. a COOLER--This opens up the possibilities for lots of different types of food!  (Such as: pasta salad, taco salad, bagels & cream cheese, potato salad, fruit/veggies with dip, pita sandwiches, chicken salad, and of course a sandwich.)
2. a TABLE CLOTH- This allows for ANY table to be hospitable.  I've gotten some at Jo Ann's fabric store for 40-60% off and YOU decide how big it need to be.
3. a SIMPLE PICNIC DINNER SET- You don't actually have to buy anything special....any plastic plates, silverware and cups will do. We got ours for FREE at Sportsman's Warehouse (color coded for each person) using our REI dividend. I've also seen a nice set at Big 5 or REI. we also dub our set for camping.

4. a SMALL TUB- When you are done eating you can throw the dirty settings into it to bring home to your dishwasher, motel room bathroom sink, or campsite to wash. FYI: rinsing at this stage is extremely helpful!
5. a WATER BOTTLE- for rinsing off dirty dishes or drinking
6. a SPONGE- to wipe up any spills

To EXPAND your Picnic possibilities---
1. a CAMP STOVE- a 2 burner propane stove or backpacking stove.. (BONUS--you are adding great equipment to your 72 hour kit...and you'll know how to use it!) With having one of these--your possibilities are endless. You can heat up ANYTHING! It could be a stir fry, homemade soup, stew BBQ sandwich, Sloppy Joe's, french dip sandwiches, fish tacos...etc. If time is NOT on your side, you can just bring cans from the grocery store of soup, stew, pork n' beans, Ramen, or even hot dogs! You could even go as simple as heating up water for cup of noodles or oatmeal packets! We have even done Pot stickers straight from the freezer!
In this picture, we were preparing fish tacos on a road trip...
2. a POT- obviously to heat up any of the above  You need a pot or two.  We got ours at REI for FREE using our dividend. 
3. a SALT/PEPPER SHAKER- We picked up some awesome ones at Sportsman's Warehouse. I don't remember the price--but it was definitely under $10.
4. a WOODEN SPOON- to stir and not burn all that yummy food you are going to make.
5. a POT HOLDER- your heating something makes for an easy transfer.

Time can be the biggest factor in your outings in how much you'll spend or do.  We have all of our equipment in ONE place--designated only for outings!  It makes for an easy grab-and-go without forgetting anything!  (And the extra BONUS is your 72 hour kits are condensed!)

Happy Summer Vacationing!

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