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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

Map to our office

K-State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Johnson County Extension at (913)715-7000. Notify staff of accommodation needs as early as possible.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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How to Pack the Perfect Picnic

picnic foodEverything tastes better outside under a shade tree with the summer breeze. Well maybe not for everyone, but for a majority of us we love a good picnic and outdoor barbeque. According to representatives at National Picnic Week, the average picnicker partakes in a picnic three times a year, which equals about 94 million picnics! Not surprising, a picnic survey of more than 5,000 picnickers across the county reveals that potato salad is the most popular picnic food. Other favorite foods that topped the list are chips and salsa, fruit salad, deviled eggs, sandwiches, and of course the good-old standby dessert of cookies.

As you plan your summer picnics here are a few things to remember to pack the perfect picnic.

Consider your food choices.

Cold foods are easier to be kept cold in a cooler compared to hot foods. Hot foods require a source of heat to keep warm so if you will not have a fire or electric outlet it will be hard to reheat hot foods if they fall below the safe temperature of 135°F. Pack coolers full of ice or frozen ice packets to ensure food stays cold and safe for consumption. Don’t let perishable food sit out for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90°F. Other foods to consider are those that improve with resting times and easy, handheld foods. For example, grain or hearty green salads that improve their taste as they soak in dressing are better than delicate greens that wilt when let rest in dressings.

Transport supplies appropriately.

Mason jars and lightweight, resealable containers are great for transporting foods. Cold foods should be transported in a cooler but other nonperishable food may be transported in a picnic basket or other container.

Keep it clean.

Remember, whenever we enjoy nature we want to keep it clean! Bring trash bags and, if you compost, compost containers. Also, remember to keep your clean and dirty utensils separated. Bring two separate containers, bags, or cloths to hold clean and dirty utensils. Consider brining two sets of utensils if you will be handling raw meat, using one for the raw meat and one for the cooked meat. Lastly, a transportable hand washing station or hand sanitizer.

Don’t forget these other picnic essentials:

Foldable screens or other covers that pop over food to keep pests out, a blanket (or chairs) or tablecloth, sunscreen, and some games!

Want more great food tips, recipes and nutrition info?

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Extension Master Food Volunteers are hosting a Picnic/Camping Food Class on July 20 at the Extension office. Learn more