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4 Surprising Picnic Essentials

Michigan was the first state to have a roadside picnic table in the U.S. This hidden gem, located in West Michigan’s Ionia County, appeared in 1929. But the term ‘picnic’ dates back much further. The French-derived word originally stems back to 1794, 100 years after ‘pique-nique’ first appeared in the French language. Whether you’re visiting a roadside table for a road trip picnic or planning one for your local park, here are some staples to bring that might surprise you:

Cutting board.

You don’t need to be cutting veggies to have use for a cutting board on a picnic. This hard surface allows for easy prep and doubles as a serving platter. Even better, it triples as a drink stand to prevent drinks from spilling onto the blanket or onto the grass attracting bugs.

Food tent.

Sure, flies love the food we bring to picnics, but we don’t love them. Many food tents are light weight, foldable and affordable. Bringing a food tent along to your next picnic can help you enjoy activities and conversations between bites. Even yet, no one has to stand guard to the flies.

Shatterproof glassware.

Many people are aiming to reduce their single-use plastic and waste. Though glass is oftentimes the go-to swap for households, their fragile nature doesn’t bode well for outdoor activities. On your next picnic, consider bringing shatterproof glassware or other reusable serving ware to make Mother Earth proud.

Water, but not for drinking.

Bringing a jug of water is essential for quenching thirst in the summer heat, but it can serve up more purposes. Rinse your reusable serving ware before packing back up to avoid a sticky aftermath in your cooler or bag. Sticky hands are also a problem when there’s limited access to running water while out in nature. Though hand sanitizer helps kill bacteria, it doesn’t rinse off the dirt. That jug of water can help rinse hands before and after food prep, and after the kids have enjoyed their time playing in nature.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more health tips and information, visit

A Healthier Michigan
Author: A Healthier Michigan

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