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Pack a Perfect Picnic

When you’re caring for someone who spends a lot of time indoors or whose routine doesn’t vary much, a picnic can be a welcome change for both of you. Planning and executing one, though, can be daunting. Follow these tips for packing a meal and finding an ideal spot:

Picnic Menu Ideas

Sandwiches, of course, are traditional, but think beyond two slices of bread. Pita breads, or wraps and tortillas keep fillings intact and minimize spills. Start with a burrito-sized tortilla or a large pita cut in half, and then:

  • Spread with pesto, tapenade, or sun-dried tomato dip and layer with cooked chicken strips and sliced avocado
  • Spread with apple butter and mustard and layer with deli ham or turkey breast and zucchini pickles
  • Spread with horseradish and layer with deli roast beef and roasted red peppers
  • Spread with soft goat cheese or herbed cheese spread and layer with roasted vegetables
  • Mix tunafish with sliced olives and chopped tomatoes; toss with bottled Italian salad dressing or a vinaigrette before spooning into the pita half or wrapping in the tortilla

If you’re able to tote supplies to and from the park, tuck some plastic forks into your basket and serving-sized tubs of grain- or bean-based salads, mayonnaise-free potato salad, or sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

Do you prefer to skip the sandwiches altogether? Oven-fried chicken is delicious at room temperature or cold and isn’t as greasy as the traditional variety. You can also pack cheese and crackers (try individually wrapped Babybels or Laughing Cow wedges), or baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper strips to dip into hummus.

Round out your meal with fruit, but choose carefully: Peaches, plums, and most berries are fragile, and bananas can bruise easily. Opt for easy-to-peel citrus, or freeze halved grapes or cubed cantaloupe or watermelon for an icy treat.

Finding a Picnic Spot

When you get to a certain age, spreading a blanket to sit on the ground loses its appeal—and if your loved one is in a wheelchair or has limited mobility it’s a nonissue.

New York City has myriad public parks as well as privately owned spaces that are open to the public, and many are wheelchair accessible. Some have designated areas with picnic tables, but most all have benches where you can enjoy your meal and watch passersby.