Food: How to Pack the Perfect Picnic


Cary, NC — With so many outdoor festivals and music events in Cary, bringing a picnic can really add to the fun.And did you know that at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, they award prizes for the best picnic at the NC Symphony shows? They have people roving the audience specifically looking for that uber-picnic with panache. Maybe that can be you after you read this post.

Top 5 Best Picnic Musts

You want to be food safe, so don’t ever pack anything that contains mayonnaise which can easily turn bad in our hot summers and give someone at your part a case of food poisoning. You also don’t want to lug anything too heavy – the trip from the parking lot at Koka Booth to the lawn area can be a pretty far hike, and will feel longer if you are lugging several bottles plus your chairs.

1. Rolling Picnic Tote

Look for an insulated picnic tote a style on wheels. This comes in so handy and will keep the cold things cold. It’s also weighs less than a cooler.



Rolling picnic tote from KegWorks.

2. Box Wine

Bottles can be heavy, especially if you are packing a big picnic. For a large crowd, look no further than box wine! Many fine vintages are available, they come with a spout, they’re light, and they are eco-friendly because that box is truly recyclable.  And you won’t need a wine opener (one other thing folks frequently forget!)

You’ll also need a set of inexpensive glasses, which these days can easily be found at the grocery store, but you could get fancy and purchase some sturdy stemware or plastic to re-use on your next picnic.


3. Dips

At a concert, you need food that’s easy to eat, and the easiest of apps is a great hummus, or other tasty dip, either homemade in advance or purchased at the local grocery of choice. With a resealable lid, you can take home what you don’t use.

Add to that containers of baby carrots, celery sticks, crackers, peppers and cucumbers and you have a heavy start to the evening as you have that first glass of wine after you have secured your viewing spot.


Hummus by James.

4. Wraps

Anything on skewers or wrap sandwiches are ideal. Whether you are a group of grownups, or have the young’uns in tow. You need food that can be eaten without utensils, but dressed up to please the grownups, too.

I recommend whole wheat or other fancy tortillas filled with sliced turkey, pesto, lettuce, tomatoes, a favorite cheese and you are all set.


Wraps by Matej Novak.

5. Dessert

Fruit skewers are great because again they are utensil free and it makes eating strawberries and grapes seem more festive. Cupcakes are another great choice, again no need for utensils.


Fruit skewers by eltpics.

The Perfect Picnic

Now if you really want to win that contest, I suggest a fancy blanket, possibly some pretty napkins, even a vase with flowers to give your area a bit of style. I’ve even seen folks that rent the tables up front bring a table cloth. That might be going a step too far.

However you style your picnics this summer, I hope you have fun at the variety of outdoor shows that do allow you to bring your own food and beverages in with you to the show. Or wherever you plan to picnic.


Story by Lindsey Chester. Lead photo by Rowena.


Food on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Whisk of Cary.


1 reply
  1. Brent
    Brent says:

    These are great tips!

    We use a different method, though. We call City BBQ at (919) 439-5191 and pick up the food 30 minutes later on our way to KBA. :-)

Comments are closed.