The 3 Kitchen Essentials You Need to Have On Hand at Every Picnic

updated Jul 1, 2019
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Credit: Erika Tracy

I’ve spent many years of my life living in and loving the city of Chicago, where interior spaces are relatively small and people can’t wait for the warmer months (40 below, no thank you). As soon as summer hits, folks flood the parks, beaches, and rooftops to host picnic after picnic.

Picnic baskets aren’t hard to assemble—in fact, they’re pretty straightforward despite their loosey-goosey nature. You just have to think about what you may need in a pinch. Here are three things you’ll always find in my basket or bag at all times. You’re almost guaranteed to need them!

1. An extra serving spoon

Although most of us try to travel light and it’s easy to skip anything that might weigh us down, you can certainly handle an extra, inexpensive plastic spoon. It’ll save you from not being able to grab a container of X, Y, or Z from the grocery store, and weighs next to nothing. It also means you’re covered if you, say, accidentally drop the first one in the dirt. Or if your picnic is potluck-style and someone forgot the spoon for their famous pasta salad.

2. One good knife

We could probably write an entire post about carrying a good knife with you at all times (for food purposes, that is). There isn’t anything you can’t do to food with a good blade, but at a picnic it’s almost more important than the food itself! Not only can it do normal things like, um, cut stuff, but a good knife can open a can or champagne bottle, slice those must-have hard cheeses, and allow you to supreme citrus without getting all sticky.

Shop our favorites: Best Picnic Knives

3. A large kitchen towel

There are very few circumstances where paper napkins and I get along. Usually when I’m using one, I’m outside at a get-together and I’m the girl who can be seen frolicking across the field chasing hers down so she doesn’t look like a litter bug when it catches the air and goes flying off the table. I’ll take a community towel any day over paper goods—in addition to acting as a plate, it performs magical clean-up duties, doubles as a doggy bag once you tie the ends up, or can be used as an impromptu bib.

Do you have a must-have item in your picnic basket? Something you’ve found that is a great multitasker or just a go-to item that will never leave your side? Let us know below!

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 3 Things You Should Always Take to a Picnic