cookouts and picnics
Wholesale cookout and picnic gear
Cookouts and Picnics, Charred burgers with all the fixings, ice-cold beer under a beach umbrella, toast with eggs scrambled over a campfire—food just tastes better in the summer. Whether you want a dialed-in picnic set up for the park, better tableware for camping, or great grill tools for cookouts, investing in a few carefully selected items will make the difference between roughing it and dining in style
We’ve spent more than 85 hours since 2016 researching and testing new picnic products, as well as collecting our favorite tools, equipment, and purely fun gadgets from past guides to help you have a great picnic or cookout of your own. We tested our picks over several picnic lunches with friends at Los Angeles’s Elysian Park and Rincon Beach, just south of Santa Barbara, California.
How To Keep Picnic And Cookout Food Safe
The long, lazy days of summer make it open season for a round-robin of backyard cookouts and spur-of-the-moment picnics. But when food and the sun get together, ants, mosquitoes, and pop-up showers aren’t the only things that can put a damper on the fun. Unfortunately, picnics and cookouts dish out an unwanted invitation to food-spoiling bacteria like salmonella and listeria.
Keeping those uninvited guests from crashing the party doesn’t take an advanced degree in food management. In fact, it’s as easy as knowing three simple things about handling food. OhioHealth registered dietitian Deanna Carey shares the how-tos of keeping food safe and good to eat.
1. How to Pack Food
Keeping cold food cold is the key to keeping food safe. Carey says the recommended temperature for perishable foods (meats, dips, foods with mayo, eggs or milk) is 40 degrees or colder.
That means packing food in coolers with lots of ice, frozen gel packs or water bottles. Take two coolers if possible, with drinks packed separately. That way as picnickers open and close the drink cooler, perishable foods won’t get hit with heat over and over. You also want to keep raw meat in the cooler until it’s time to cook, well wrapped to prevent juices from dripping on the food you’ll eat raw.
2. How to Cook Food
According to Carey, meat is one of the bacteria’s favorite hangouts. “There are different bacteria for different meats, and chicken is more prone to bacteria,” she says. “If the meat has bacteria, cooking your meat to the right temperature will kill it.” For chicken, that temperature is 165 degrees and for ground beef, 155 degrees.
Using a meat thermometer is the best way to know if you’ve hit the mark. Checking to make sure the juices are clear is the next best thing. Summer heat is not the time for rare-cooked meat. Carey also says to use different plates for raw and cooked meat.
3. How to Serve Food
Again, serving food safely is all about temperature. Whether you’re serving food inside or outside, Carey says perishable foods have a danger zone you want to avoid. “When you hit it — 40 to 140 degrees — you’re in trouble.” That means once you’ve served perishable food, it shouldn’t sit out for more than two hours. And not more than one hour if it’s 90 degrees or hotter.
Carey says one way to avoid a problem is to avoid food that easily spoils. “Mayonnaise and eggs are the roots of the problem,” she says. Fruits and salads with oil and vinegar-based dressings are a better bet. “And they’re healthier for you too,” Carey adds.
But if it’s not a cookout without Aunt Millie’s potato salad, you don’t have to tell her to leave it at home. Keep any perishable food cold by placing the serving container in a larger bowl filled with ice.
Coolers and carriers
Keeping your food fresh and cool is one of the most important factors of a successful outdoor meal. Whether you’re storing your family-recipe potato salad or a 24-pack of your favorite sodas, this product is your best bet for both portability and functionality. During tests for our guide to coolers, it kept 9 pounds of ice frozen for 24 hours, held the most cans of any 24-pack cooler we tested (easily fitting 24 cans plus 6 pounds of ice), and was easy to load and unload. However, when fully loaded, this cooler can weigh 24 to 26 pounds.
If you’re going to be out in the heat for multiple days and don’t have to worry too much about mobility, this product is the best hard cooler we’ve found. Despite its five-day rating, our testing showed that it kept ice frozen to some extent for an entire week. It’s a lot less expensive than other similarly performing coolers, and its channeled drain makes the hefty task of tilting and emptying it pain-free.