The origin of the word picnic dates back to 1692 from the French word pique-nique -- referring to a group of people dining together, usually bringing along their own wine. The picnic has evolved over centuries into the concept of eating a meal in a scenic outdoor location.
While picnics have never gone out of fashion – especially during the warm summer months – the idea of what an outdoor meal should entail has perhaps gotten a little stale. Most of us are familiar with lunch or dinner al fresco … however, breakfast has not yet taken hold as a popular time to spread out a checked blanket and paper plates.
It’s a wonder why, as cooler morning temperatures, smaller crowds at popular spots, and less intrusion from pesty flies and mosquitoes make this time of day ideal for a gathering! Plus, a hearty meal first thing in the morning is the perfect start to a day filled with summer activities such as hiking, biking, or a trip to the beach. With a check of the weather and some planning the day before, you might find the early-bird picnic becomes a new and fun end-of-summer tradition for your crew.
Here are several ideas to build your breakfast picnic menu around. Once you’ve decided on a yummy entree, all you’ll need to do is pack a few easy add-ons – fresh fruit, bakery goods (baguette, muffins, pastries), and a big thermos of coffee, tea, or juice. (Having an adult gathering? How about mixing up some Bloody Marys, or sprinkling a little champagne in the OJ?)
And, if you happened to have a late night and are feeling a little lazy come dawn? There’s nothing wrong with stopping at Starbucks for a sack of sandwiches and a cube of morning brew.
Baked Eggs in a Muffin Tin. Surprise – scrambled eggs actually taste just as good at room temperature as they do piping hot. They do pose a bit of a mess in terms of transporting, however. In order to make them more portable, you can bake them in a muffin tin to create a quick and easy-to-handle main dish. The recipe couldn’t be easier – and you can personalize it any way you like. Toss in whatever add-ons your crowd is craving (meats, cheeses, veggies) to customize, then enjoy!
Quiche. If you have a little extra prep time on your hands and are contemplating a fancier take on eggs, quiche is an elegant and remarkably flexible dish that works well for any meal. It’s particularly great for breakfast, though, as it tastes delicious hot, warm, or cold (and is often better the day after it’s made!). It also can be customized to suit your crowd – make one with bacon or ham, and another with broccoli or spinach to please the vegetarians.
Breakfast Cookies. If your picnic crew has more of a sweet tooth, a batch of hearty breakfast cookies may be just the thing. These hearty, healthy cookies generally have some sort of grain (oats, bran), fruit (raisins), and even carrots – and the result is a treat that sticks to the ribs even through a morning full of activities. Bake a big batch the night before, and throw in your picnic basket. These go great with a big glass of fruit juice!
Oatmeal Feast. Are you the type who can barely boil water? This one’s for you. Simply pack a carafe of hot water and instant oatmeal packets (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and prepare the oatmeal in a slow cooker). Gather a variety of add-ins and toppings – milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, raisins, dried fruits, nuts, granola, peanut butter, flax seeds…anything your heart desires. Then, just hand everyone a bowl and have them create their own healthy masterpieces!
For your breakfast picnic outing, try to plan and pack up as much as possible the night before. You can stow a blanket, plates, napkins, cutlery and cups so they’re ready to go. Then all you have to do is rise, put together your breakfast entree, brew the coffee, and the early morning is all yours!
For decor inspiration, how-tos and curated products for your summer picnic, check out our Party Plans.