So if you recall from earlier this week, I was all insanely jazzed about packing a picnic for us to take to the park. Of course, as with many of my bright ideas, it didn’t really end up as planned but the food was mighty tasty. And since I also posted earlier this week about our grocery habits and budget, I thought it might be fun to give you the low-down on our meal.
I didn’t follow any recipes so most of my measurements are going to be difficult to recreate but I’ll do my best guestimates for you in case you feel compelled to pack your very own slightly delusional picnic.
I don’t typically make a habit of extra trips to the market during the week but we were already there to pick up some medication for the dog so I did pick up a few extra items since I wanted out picnic to be special. This meal is also not exactly low in calories. Again, this was to be a splurge-worthy event so I wasn’t too concerned about calories – plus, we were supposed to be doing plenty of walking to help burn off some of the excess.
Here’s what I planned. These quantities should definitely serve 4 with enough for a toddler to have two meals from it as well. And there will still be left overs of some of the basic ingredients:
Mixed salad greens topped with homemade potato salad
Cheese and radish sandwiches with herb butter
Fresh cherries and watermelon
Brownies (dark chocolate, from a box)
1. I purchased a box of brownie mix on sale for $1.99 and baked the brownies according to the package directions. I already had the oil/eggs for the mix. You will have plenty of left over brownies. After brownies cool, I cut them and individually wrap each one completely and tightly in Saran wrap. They stay much fresher this way. Even more fresh than say a Ziploc.
2. I purchased a bag of red potatoes. I guess it was likely a 5 lb bag? It was $4.99. I cut up approx 2.5 -3 pounds of potatoes into roughly uniform bite sized chunks. I wash them well but leave the skin on. I boiled the potatoes in heavily salted water until they were tender (but not falling apart). Drain and rinse the potatoes with cool water so they don’t continue to cook and get smooshy.
3. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, mix together about 2 or 3 tablespoons of prepared yellow mustard and a generous cup of mayo. There should be enough that the salad is coated but not swimming in dressing. I added half of one medium-sized red onion thinly sliced and about 3/4 of a container of organic chives I purchased for $2.29 (They were the only chives I could find). Also add some pepper to taste. You shouldn’t need salt if you have salted the water well enough. Add the potatoes to the bowl and stir gently to incorporate all ingredients. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for several hours.
4. About an hour before your picnic, assemble the sandwich. If you need to prepare it farther in advance that’s fine. Just be sure to bring it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you eat so it’s not too cold. The butter and cheese taste better slightly warmer.
5. Take about 1 or 1.5 cups of good quality butter (seriously, the kind that costs like $6 which I keep on hand for special meals) and allow it to soften in a dish. While the butter softens, very finely chop the white and tender light green parts of about 5-6 scallions. Roughly chop the remaining chives. Once the butter is soft enough, mix the green onions and the chives into the butter. You can use any or all herbs you have on hand for this butter. Or omit the scallions entirely to make it more kid-friendly. But Mac didn’t seem to mind. I had the green onions already.
6. I purchased a loaf (approx 10-12 inches in length) of freshly baked Kalamata Olive Bread from the bakery. It was $3.69. Using a sharp knife slice the entire loaf in half horizontally so there’s a top and a bottom. Positively slather both the interior tops and bottoms with ALL the herb butter.
7. Finely slice some washed radishes. I got a generous bunch for $1.69 and I have plenty leftover for salads and snacking. Layer the radishes on top of the butter on the bottom half of the sandwich. It should be a pretty thick layer.
8. Add cheese. I selected provolone slices which were pre-packaged. It was less expensive that way: $2.69 for about 8 or 10 generous slices. I loaded the entire package on top of the radishes, overlapping each slice slightly for even coverage.
9. Add some of the spring salad mix and layer on the “top” portion of the loaf of bread. The salad greens were on sale for $2.00. I used them as a “nest” for individual servings of potato salad as well as on the sandwich.
10. I wrapped the entire sandwich in foil and sliced it prior to serving. However, if we were actually picnicking, I would have cut individual portions and wrapped each in wax paper and then foil before we left the house.
11. Wash some cherries and slice some watermelon into chunks. I had purchased both of these items at the grocer last weekend.
That’s it. Picnic for a family with a few pantry items and fresh ingredients (with extra to spare) that cost $19.34.
I whip out phone to take a photo of my plate just as my husband was ready to say grace. He gives me a slightly annoyed glance and asks, “Will I be able to eat this before my effing head explodes?”