As Charlie and I don’t have our own garden, in summer we try to eat outside as much possible, whether that be an ice cream in our local park, or a fully planned picnic in the countryside. We often spend a lot of our free time out in London’s green spaces, trying out all the best picnic spots the city has to offer, but our favourite place has to be Hampstead Heath. It’s one of the largest green spaces in London with swimming ponds, woodland, meadows, a secret hidden pergola garden and some of the best views of the city.
Everyone loves a picnic right? It’s a very British pastime that we’ve been enjoying for hundreds of years, but far too often vegans are left with the uninspiring option of bread & a packet of pre-cooked falafel. Of course I love falafel as much as the next vegan, but sometimes you just want something a little more exciting!
We’ve come up with some top tips to make sure you have the perfect vegan picnic!
If you’re having a more impromptu kind of picnic where you don't really have time to cook anything before hand, there are still plenty of options when it comes to vegan food. Pretty much every supermarket has some delicious things in the food to-go section, especially Tesco with their Wicked range. Grab a couple of their salad bowls and you’ve already got yourself a substantial part of your picnic. Other fast food cafes such as Pret, Leon & even Starbucks have everything from sandwiches & salads to chocolate chip cookies and cakes for you to indulge in.
If however, you’re planning a picnic in advance, you can really go to town and make it something special. If you don’t have one already, it’s always nice to have a proper picnic basket. We picked ours up from a charity shop for a couple of quid but you can find them online too for not a lot of money. Throw in a nice picnic blanket and some proper crockery and cutlery and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to into The Sound of Music. Also, if you can, try and take some cloth napkins instead of paper ones, as it just feels a little bit more fancy, and also helps reduces waste!
The other thing we’d recommend is to try and make most of the food the night before so you don’t have to faff around in the kitchen when you could be out enjoying the sunshine! Making salads works well for this as it doesn’t need to be kept warm and everything will stay fresh in the fridge overnight, packed into separate Tupperware. Then, when you arrive, you can throw all the different components together into a bowl, and enjoy your homemade creation.
2. The Food
Although you don’t really have specific courses on a picnic, we wanted to take a few things to nibble before we had the main part of the meal. It was tempting to go with the classic combination of hummus and falafel, but why not try something a bit different? I’ve been wanting to try and create a vegan Boursin style cheese for a while now, which is a garlic and herb cream cheese for those of you know don’t know the brand. I have such lovely memories of Charlie and I eating french bread and Boursin in Paris by the Seine; the most perfect picnic!
This salad is all Charlie and I seem to want to eat at the moment. It’s so lovely and fresh, it really feels like summer on a plate! What I love is all the different components, which makes it perfect for a picnic as you means you have a lovely selection of food to eat. Another great option would be our mexican salad which is filled with fresh summery ingredients such as avocado, lime, plantain & cauliflower.
Although I was secretly yearning for Pret’s amazing Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cookie, I knew it would be a risky move with our current whether situation. There’s nothing more upsetting than buying a lovely chocolate treat, only to find half an hour later it’s completely melted into sad chocolatey puddle. So we decided to go with some lovely fresh summer fruit and vegan pastries instead, a much safer bet in this heat!
Jus Rol Cinnamon Rolls
3. The Drinks
No picnic is complete without a nice cold beer, although to be honest we did struggle to keep ours cold in the 30 degree heat! We were very kindly sent some CELIA lagers to try out; a vegan and gluten free craft lager brewed in Czech Republic. Neither of us had tried this brand before, but we’re so glad we finally have, as it’s not always easy to find vegan beer that we both enjoy. It’s super light and perfectly refreshing; just what was need on a hot summers day! CELIA have two different lagers on offer, CELIA Organic and CELIA Dark, which you can buy in either in a glass bottle or a can. You can pick up one of these lovely lagers in Waitrose, Tesco or Ocado for only £2.29.
As well as the delicious lagers we had, we also took A LOT of water! As we’re trying to reduce our use of plastics we filled up all the flasks we could find around the house, which also made sure the water stayed really cold whilst we were out.
4. Final Touches
Once you’ve got all the vegan food and drink you could wish for, you’ve packed all your plates, knives & forks, and you’ve found the perfect shady spot to sit, all you need now is to make sure you have a few things to keep you entertained. We always pack a book, some playing cards & a camera…and don’t forget your suncream!
If you’ve found our tips helpful, or you’ve tried out our picnic meal suggestion, we’d love to know! Leave us a comment below, or find us on social media.