Down Time

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By Michelle Freneaux

With summer on its way, I believe it’s only natural to suggest that we all spend some time outside this week. The weather is getting warmer every day, gearing up for a nice, hot summer season, and there are several places we can go to enjoy it.

This weekend, plan a picnic for your family, or for you and your significant other. It can be a great way to unwind for an hour or two for those students knee-deep in studying, and a celebration for those college students just finishing their own finals. First, you need to find a location. There are parks scattered all around Central, but two especially nice ones are Jackson Park, located on Sullivan Road near Gurney Road, and Lovett Road Park, located on Lovett Road near Magnolia Square. They both have seating areas, fields, and playgrounds where you can bring the little ones while the rest of the family sets up the picnic. Invite grandparents and bring a camera for some great memory-making opportunities! Even if you’re going out with your significant other, running around on a playground is still allowed.

Next, figure out the food you want to bring. Obviously, picnic food needs to be simple and portable. If you don’t want to go buy Lunchables® for everyone, get the family together that morning to assemble the picnic basket. Bring foods like sandwiches, pasta or cracker salad, juice boxes, and packaged desserts. Here’s a picnic checklist you can use:

In your basket:      In your ice chest:

Sliced bread (Smart White or Wheat)   Deli meats (turkey, roast beef, or ham are ideal)

Jar of sliced sandwich pickles    Tomato slices

Packs of fruit gummies for dessert   Lettuce, already torn to sandwich size

Cheese or peanut butter crackers Squeeze bottles of mayonnaise and mustard

    Plates (reusable plastic ones from home, or paper) (bring a plastic knife for each if you have jars)

      Napkins       Sliced cheese (your family’s favorite kind)

      Forks or spoons for pasta salad    Juice boxes, Capri Suns®, or bottled water

      Grandma’s famous pasta salad (in a plastic container)

        If you’re not going too far, an ice chest may not be necessary. Remember to pack smart; don’t waste space, and don’t crush your bread, crackers, or juice boxes.

        If you don’t have a pasta salad recipe, look one up online or go check out a picnic cookbook from the library. If all your picnic foods are finger foods, cleanup is easier, but bring reusable or recyclable utensils for things like pasta salad, serving pickles, and spreading jarred condiments. Plates should be plastic that you can bring home, wash, and reuse, or biodegradable, like paper. Try to avoid Styrofoam or disposable plastic, as it is not biodegradable and just takes up space in landfills. During cleanup, don’t forget to recycle any plastic bottles or recyclable containers. Each container will have the Recycle, Reduce, Reuse symbol on it if it is recyclable. If you can, rinse off food remnants from recyclable materials. You cannot recycle something covered in food.

        Finally, go have fun on your picnic! Remember: it’s a time to relax and enjoy time with your family.


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