Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summer Savings: Picking picnics over restaurants

One of the great things about summer (and spring, and fall, depending where you live) is the ability to go out and enjoy a great picnic in some lovely spot near you. And one thing I find is that the more I picnic, the less I eat out at restaurants, which translates into some nice savings over the course of a few months.

What are the reasons for going out to eat? At least for me, a lot of it is about the change of scenery, doing something different and more enjoyable than the usual meal at home. Leaving the house and breaking the routine turns a meal with a loved one into a date night, something special to share together. The atmosphere in a nice restaurant feels attractive, relaxing, indulgent.

But I find I can get a lot of the same feeling out of picknicking, too. Sitting in a scenic spot in a park, by a beautiful fountain or lake or garden, makes lunch or dinner instantly out-of-the-ordinary. Sitting outside with my boyfriend without the distractions of home gets us focusing on ourselves and the experience. Meeting friends for a picnic is a fun way to socialize that doesn't involve any of us having to host at home. Munching on food in the sunshine and fresh air is a treat in itself.

Of course, part of the allure of dining out is replacing the work of preparing a nice meal at home with the luxury of someone else making it for you. But sandwiches are easy and taste great outside, especially if you use good bread. All sorts of great salads, whether based on veggies, fruits, pasta or potatoes, are pretty easy too and can even be made ahead of time. And if it's spur-of-the-moment, you don't have the right ingredients at home and/or you just don't want to be bothered, you can stop by a grocery store or deli and pick up some ready-made food there.

How often do you picnic? Do you substitute it for going to restaurants? And, of course, please share your favorite picnic foods/recipes!

1 comment:

chosha said...

I agree with all your points, yet I can't deny that sometimes I eat out simply because a chef can make things I have no idea about. :)

One very small picnic tip is one for delicious rolls. I'd always used brie just with crackers, but one day at work we had bagettes with salad and slices of brie and it was heavenly! I couldn't believe how different it tasted just by having a different kind of cheese in it. If you're into brie, try it in your picnic sandwiches sometime when it's on special.