Perfect Picnics - Frugal Food Safety Tips

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and for a lot of
us that means heading out to the lake or to the park for a
picnic with friends or family.

Unfortunately, if we're not careful when we plan, transport
and serve that picnic, our outing might not end up happily.

Here are some tips to remember when planning an outdoor meal:

1. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria multiply
quickly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. Foods that
have been kept at unsafe temperatures are a prime source of
foodborne illnesses.

2. Plan ahead and try to take foods that don't spoil so
quickly. At any rate, don't eat anything that's been sitting
out for more than an hour, especially if the temperature is
over 80.

3. Try to take only the amount of food that will be eaten, so
there will be no leftovers.

4. Pack your food with ice or cold packs in an insulated
cooler. Place foods that will be eaten last in the bottom.
You can make your own blocks of ice by freezing water in milk
cartons or other plastic containers.

Place ice blocks or cold packs between containers of food,
never just place containers of food on top of ice.

5. You might want to bring 2 coolers -- 1 for drinks, because
it will be opened more often, and 1 for the food, that can be
set in the shade and kept closed until needed.

6. If you're planning to cook hamburgers at the picnic site,
shape your meat into patties and freeze before putting into the
cooler. Take along a meat thermometer to be sure you cook the
meat to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.

7. An extra zip-top bag full of ice can be placed in the top
of the cooler. The extra ice will come in handy for the trip
home. If your day is a long one, and the ice melts the cold water
can come in handy, also.

8. Carry your cooler inside your car, instead of in your hot
trunk and be sure to place it in a shady spot and maybe even
cover it with a blanket when you reach your destination.
Open it only when necessary.

9. Instead of bringing whole jars of condiments, pack what you
will need into smaller plastic containers.

10. Bring lots of clean utensils for serving as well as eating.
Pack pre-moistened towelettes and paper towels for easy

11. And remember this rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
regarding leftovers: When in doubt, throw it out!

About the Author

Cyndi Roberts has been happily married to her best friend for
34 years and is a proud mother of 3. In her newsletter,
"1 Frugal Friend 2 Another" she uses her years of experience
as a wife, mother and chief budget officer to help others
learn how to "live the good life...on a budget!" To subscribe,
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Cyndi Roberts