planning a picnic
Photo: Marko Metzinger
Clockwise starting top left:

1. Upgraded H20
"To drink, just bring water flavored with lemon and mint. Refreshing, healthy, cheap!"

2. A substantial salad
"I see people picnic with lettuce salad all the time, and I'm like, Guys, it's baking in the sun. Wilted salad is a picnic catastrophe! Bring more filling, grain-based salads—things like quinoa or farro are great. If you must do a green, go with kale. It's a hearty leaf, so it won't end up tragic."

3. Sandwich fixings
"Make your sandwich on-site, because soggy bread is a drag. Bring a baguette, a good cheese—Maggie's Round is the best—and a variety of ingredients so you can experiment with different combinations. I like Serrano ham with chives, but it's also good with blue cheese and pears—like, change-your-life good." (Maggie's Round, $17 per pound; artisanalcheese.com)

4. Something sweet
"Any kind of cookie is going to work really well; they're portable."

5. A versatile condiment
"For more mileage, choose one that has multiple uses. Pesto is delicious in a pasta or grain salad, and you can slather jarred caramelized onions on a slice of cheese or a baguette."

6. Planet-friendly flatware
"Go for fully biodegradable cutlery, made out of cornstarch, amazingly." ($6; vegware.us)

7. A tote bag
"It's nontraditional, but I carry my spread in a tote. You want to be nimble so you can do something fun after you eat. Who wants to be lugging a basket around?" ($56; yielddesign.co)

Picnics By the Numbers

The breakdown on breaking bread alfresco.

56: Minutes it would take a fleet of 50 ants to drag your cupcake away, crumb by crumb.

7: Number of floors in the picnic-basket-shaped headquarters of the Longaberger Company, in Ohio.

133: Years Hancock, New Hampshire, has celebrated Old Home Day, a town-wide picnic for residents past and present.

1.5: Hours a mayonnaise-based potato salad can sit out in the heat without spoiling.

4: Foods depicted in Edouard Manet's famous Le déjeuner sur l'herbe ("Luncheon on the Grass").

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