Picnic Lunch

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I would like to hear some ideas for what you make for a picnic lunch that you sell to guests. I am interested in mostly the kind of things that you can keep in stock so that you can prepare it quickly.

I started working on it. I found that we have parbaked bread available locally, so that I can use very fresh bread. A few salads that I can usually mix up. But what do you do about things like cold cuts or fillings for the sandwiches?

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So basically you need to clarify what it is; ie a picnic is not what you are talking about, you are talking about a boxed lunch. I have had a few of those lately and some very effective ones, I might add. One had the lettuce and tomato wrapped on the outside of the sandwich. Sour dough bread, croissant, brown bread, etc. 

One particular chicken place that invented the chicken sandwich, does box lunches quite well. The chicken sandwich (burger) is simple,with a pickle on it. Not too fancy, but always nice (for those of us who eat meat  every meal). a big cookie. a side of chips. a drink. it is perfect.

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Something between a boxed lunch and a picnic. Wrapped up so that it can be used as both. Drinks, dessert, sandwich or salad, sides. People in the city might want to sit on a bench and eat it or sit in a park and pull it out. I'm urban, I need it to be flexible enough that they can choose it either way.

And then there are the food considerations, for example, commercial mayonnaise is preferable exactly because of the additives, which home made is more susceptible to spoilage. A frozen bottle of water to keep things cold, maybe something special drink wise as well, like a local can of soda or flavoured water. Something they don't find elsewhere, easily.

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Reading the other posts and then this one made me think of "Innkeeping is no picnic"  Smiling

Generic's picture
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And living in a cold climate isn't easy, either. Which is why I have to think of things that I can do that will be around in different seasons. I'm also looking for inspiration in Bento boxes. But I need to think about the fact that many people would be buying this for this car or train trip home and this needs to be ready to eat in that fashion if they so wish. Then there are the GF and vegetarians to consider. 

One thing that I can tell you, there is going to be one happy guy who is going to be getting a packed lunch for a while. I also have to go down to the dollar store and see what kind of packing items they have as well, because I'm expecting that most of what I do pack is never coming back. 

What I do know is that I want to try to use things that are local, that aren't really found elsewhere. And I want things that I can pull together as much as possible from things that I keep in stock. Especially during the summer it is difficult for me to run out to the store and people have a tendency to tell me things last minute. I wish they wouldn't, but they always do. That's likely why I need to practice this and test this until I have a few tried and true and can set it all up.

The other side of this for me is cost control. I'm in the inner city, so if I can't beat them on price then I need to beat them on having something that is both different (ie hard to find anywhere else) and interesting. I know that it's not as much of a concern elsewhere, but let's face it, on the way to the train station, in the train station, and on the train I have competition. I want to get people before they get there. 

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I wish we could provide picnic meals but our health department doesn't allow it without a commercial license.  A bento box to-go would be a fun idea.  Unfortunately, most of the disposable bento boxes I've seen look like frozen dinner trays!  My favorite picnic sandwich is the Vietnamese Banh Mi (recipes are plentiful on the internet).  You might also check the upscale boxed meals sold at venues such as Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center.  Unfortunately, the caterer hasn't yet posted their menus for the coming season.

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Your macaroons (minis) instead of muffins for the sweet. Wrap sandwiches in was paper. I wrap things like pickles and the carrots/cukes in a doubled up wax paper using the drug-store wrap of course. Glad make a very inexpensive plastic container - 25 or 50 cents per I think it comes down to. I get my bags printed at the local Sheltered Workshop - good quality and great price. NO ONE else will have your macaroons!! A salad would be special and unexpected in a picnic lunch.

https://www.masune.com/Supply/Product.asp?Leaf_Id=27006 (price went up since my last order) Jus goo gle the .5 oz 

 

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Yup, that's part of going to the dollar store and seeing what they have and how I can use it. As I said, DH is going to be quite happy, getting a packed lunch each day as an experiment. (I'll skip the dessert for him, I have a long list of those that are perfected.) The macaron need to be enclosed in a box, too easy to crush, but I do have boxes for them in pairs. Maybe my pumpkin bread, banana bread, canale or biscotti. Heck, I can even make eclairs rather easily in smaller quantities. I'm sure that I can do that part easily enough. I think the dollar store also has small bottles of hand sanitizer, or they have a larger bottle and small travel bottles available, I'll figure that out, somehow.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

Yup, that's part of going to the dollar store and seeing what they have and how I can use it. As I said, DH is going to be quite happy, getting a packed lunch each day as an experiment. (I'll skip the dessert for him, I have a long list of those that are perfected.) The macaron need to be enclosed in a box, too easy to crush, but I do have boxes for them in pairs. Maybe my pumpkin bread, banana bread, canale or biscotti. Heck, I can even make eclairs rather easily in smaller quantities. I'm sure that I can do that part easily enough. I think the dollar store also has small bottles of hand sanitizer, or they have a larger bottle and small travel bottles available, I'll figure that out, somehow.

Don't forget the other innkeeper trick, giving something to guests as TEST GUINEA PIGS, they love that. They tell everyone about it too! 

I remember the WEEK when every morning the guests were the testers, it was the same dish. I wanted to perfect it,so made it every day, and with our one nighters all the time, it worked! They all were so cute about it. I might have to make something just for that effect again! haha

PS My vegetarians called again for this weekend to remind me they are vegetarian, but they "wouldn't turn down - bacon -."   Okay...awright...got it. 

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Yeah, I don't seem to get that kind of vegetarian. I did get some more reasonable vegans lately, who told me that traces of egg or milk in things were fine. Glad someone has some sense.

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My lunches are packed in insulated brown-bag-size bags with a strap handle that are in my color and silk-screened with my logo and contact info. One of the two bags (one per guest in case they want different  sandwich fillings) has a .5 oz bottle of waterless hand cleaner. Each bag has several paper napkins. Everything is wrapped in wax paper to be eco. When they are given the lunches, they are told the bags are theirs as a gift of the Gillum House (cost about $5.50 per bag printed) and gives me advertising when they use them for lunches when they get home. A cold bottle of water keeps the lunch chilled.

Generic's picture
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With a $5.50 bag included, how much is a lunch going for, each?

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That is why I say have 3 or more things is a package. I built $30 into the package for the lunches. I charged $395 + tax for the 2-nights, packed lunches, dinner for 2 and the turn-by-turn routings (breakfasts also of course). The packages were very popular.

That is $15 per lunch.

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 Love this idea.  I think you hit on something else too.  Three seems a magic number, people perceive three things as a "actionable" amount, less is not enough, more than that is confusing.  Three is the Goldilocks number.

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For my picnic lunches.  I asked what type of sandwich they wanted, Ham, turkey or roast beef. I had Kaiser rolls or sub rolls. Put lettuce , tomato, whatever they wanted on it. Theyalso  got potato salad, bag of chips, brownies or home made cookies, fruit and told them to take soda from the guest fridge. I had insulated bags with a cool pack on the bottom. If they weren't returning, they got a totable paper brown bag. I also put in one of those  $1 tablecloths, napkins, plastic cutlery, and some individual wrapped handi wipes.  I charged $15. Everyone love their picnic.

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Quick fix to keep chicken on hand:   trim and pound boneless chicken into a cutlet.   Season/add marinade and individually wrap and freeze.   It can be defrosted in the microwave and quickly grilled or broiled.

I keep these in the freezer for a quick dinner but there's no reason you couldn't keep something like this on hand for a quick sandwich filling.

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I was thinking that I could make meatloaf, since it's nice even when cold. Avocado salad on a bun. Cold mini burgers (chicken, beef or even salmon). Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagel. Cream cheese and cucumbers sandwich.

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Personally, I don't like cold meatloaf sandwiches.  And for that same reason, I wouldn't eat a cold chicken or beef burger either.  That's just me...  I definitely recommend that you give them options in advance.  

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There will be plenty of choices, which is why I need to work on it. But we don't usually buy cold cuts and I don't really think it's my clientele, either, maybe pastrami, but not the stuff with all the additives and nitrates, which is why we don't buy it. I will work on a list of items that can be "ordered". Sandwiches will be in pairs, though, since the bread that I'm looking at, to bake fresh, is wide and long enough for two small sandwiches, otherwise it's got to go on bagel or regular sandwich. But they don't both have to have the same fillings. I can manage to split before making. It's all part of trying it out and seeing what will work. And eventually what will be ordered and what won't be ordered. 

I just thought that a nice cold thinly cut meatloaf sandwich, which is something that I enjoy would be preferable to something like balogna, which I haven't touched since I was a child. Or maybe something like a cold stir fry? Falafel? Gingered chicken? I'm trying to think out of the box and out of the cold cut island, more things that are home made that a sandwich shop that slaps meat into 12" long bread doesn't make.

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I ask before arrival what meat they want on the sandwiches so I know what bread to bake. Turkey or chicken goes on herb bread, ham on rye or white or whole wheat. IF I have a vegan, they get the herb bread with the topping I put on the chicken or turkey (meats I think have no real flavor). This topping gets rave reviews and works as a vegan filling. Peel & core a large aple, quarter or 8th into a processor. Add 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts and 6 to 8 fresh sage leaves. Hit shred for a few seconds until it is a paste. Voila! I also add lettuce and tomato and (cheese when appropriate) to the sandwich.

I also include babycarrots and cucumber spears or sometimes some dill pickle spears, muffins, fruit, and a container of Pri ngles as it is the only one I know of that comes in a hard container (lunchbox size, not the big guy), and a bottle of cold water. So far guests have come back saying it was a wonderful lunch.

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Thanks, fresh sage would be quite expensive here. Or can it be kept frozen?

I was thinking about chips, but that tube brand doesn't really make local flavours. The other brand has some local flavours, like Ketchup, Fries & Gravy, Dill Pickle and Roast Chicken. The local brand, named after an nursery rhyme egg has a party mix, BBQ rings and potato sticks. Which I think are all flavours from this side of the border. Not the kind of thing I have seen on my visits south. I did see Vickie's chips at a sandwich shop, once, but don't know if they are really widespread. 

How do you keep the meats? I don't usually consume them, so we don't have them in stock, so I would have to go out for them. I'm just wondering how to handle it if people order it a day before. Egg salad would be easy to handle, since I can prepare it from eggs that I always have in stock.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

Thanks, fresh sage would be quite expensive here. Or can it be kept frozen?

Do you have a window that gets sun? I grow sage year round in my basement with a big sunny window. I don't bring herbs in and out with the seasons as I always lose them doing that. I have my outside herbs in the warm weather and keep my inside herbs growing year round. I have had sucess with sage, parsely, oregano and mint indoors. That's how I keep fresh herbs in breakfast in the winter.

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I I have chives growing around the house (meaning around the perimeter where flowers used to be) but I also have a pot of regular chives and a pot of garlic chives that I put in DH's workshop (s/b a sunroom but that is another story) so I chives all year. In summer the pots sit on the deck by the kitchen. IF my parsley comes up this year, it will be about the 6th year it has returned on its own.

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I have sage growing around the house. It is one of the very hardy herbs - I can pick fresh sage here for my Christmas turkey dressing. We do go into single digits a few nights every winter and it survives. I do not have to replant it every year a la basil.

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

Thanks, fresh sage would be quite expensive here. Or can it be kept frozen?

I was thinking about chips, but that tube brand doesn't really make local flavours. The other brand has some local flavours, like Ketchup, Fries & Gravy, Dill Pickle and Roast Chicken. The local brand, named after an nursery rhyme egg has a party mix, BBQ rings and potato sticks. Which I think are all flavours from this side of the border. Not the kind of thing I have seen on my visits south. I did see Vickie's chips at a sandwich shop, once, but don't know if they are really widespread. 

How do you keep the meats? I don't usually consume them, so we don't have them in stock, so I would have to go out for them. I'm just wondering how to handle it if people order it a day before. Egg salad would be easy to handle, since I can prepare it from eggs that I always have in stock.

from me to you, there is nothing in a picnic lunch that you should have on hand, you really have to make a trip to get it, so if it is an add-on in advance, so you know about it. You can give the guest a little check off list when they order it for their choices - ie if they don't eat ham, or turkey or veg, whatever they want. 

What I do for drinks is something I personally like, since we have sodas here available for free, I feel like it is not fair to toss some canned soda or water bottles in there.  I always give them the long necked specialty sodas, ie a regional rootbeer in the dark collectable bottle, or something similar.

Rootbeer is decaf in MOST brands, so when we had a lovely Mormon couple (who I have used in all by picnic photos - courtesy of them), so it was not a problem in that arena. Smiling

In fact, here is some trivia on this:

Rootbeer originally made using the root of a sassafras plant (or the bark of a sassafras tree) as the primary flavor. Sassafras grow all over the Blue Ridge Mountains, they are endemic to this part of the country. So if they go to a picnic spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway I let them know this, if they want to find a Sassafras. You can rub the leaves and they smell like rootbeer (but they can't use them anymore they found out they were carcingenic) and banned them from use. here

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