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The best picnic foods to eat during the beautiful spring weather

Chill, enjoy the spring breeze and eat delicious foods with your friends

As the weather gets nicer, more people are inclined to hang outside with friends and family. This being said, picnics are a great way to gather outside in a socially distant manner. Ever since this spring season has started, I found myself studying and eating outside a lot more just to get out my house and soak in some vitamin D. 

Although it is completely fine to buy from restaurants, it is even more enjoyable to make your own food to pack in your picnic basket. Whether you choose to prepare alone for a healing experience or create with friends as a perfect bonding activity, you’ll be grateful for the end results.

Therefore, I recommend these diverse, easy-to-make, picnic-ready recipes to ensure a satisfying dining experience to complement the nice spring weather. All of these recipes can easily be made from any apartment, house or dorm. Some of the ingredients can be found in local grocery stores, such as Kroger or Trader Joe’s, and the rest can be found in convenience stores around Grounds, such as the one in O’Hill Dining Hall or CVS on the Corner. 

The first recipe is a dish everyone knows, but is not necessarily a traditional picnic dish — nachos. I love making nachos for any occasion, but I found them surprisingly convenient to make for a picnic. Not only is it a dish that everyone is familiar with, but it is also easily customizable for my vegan or vegetarian friends — nachos do not require you to stick to any strict recipe.

If you want classic nachos, I recommend the classic Tostitos’s Original Restaurant Style tortilla chips, nacho cheese, beef and any extra toppings of your choice — such as sliced lettuce, chopped tomatoes and jalapeños, if you like it spicy. To move away from traditional nachos, I love to make my nachos buffalo style. 

To make the nachos, all you need are tortilla chips of your choosing, chicken, buffalo sauce, ranch and your favorite toppings. If you live in an apartment, it is easier to cook raw chicken. However, if you live in a dorm, it might be easier to cook frozen chicken. Of course, if you have a kitchen in your dorm, it is completely possible to cook raw chicken there as well. My go-to buffalo sauce is Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce, but any buffalo sauce you can find will do the job perfectly. Drizzle the buffalo sauce and ranch dressing on top to complete this picnic treat.

You can make the buffalo style nachos vegan friendly by substituting chicken with tofu. This is my favorite crispy tofu recipe that I use every time if I crave tofu or if I have to accommodate vegan or vegetarian friends. Fortunately, Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce is vegan. For the ranch, you can buy dairy-free ranch, such as Hidden Valley Original Ranch Plant Powered Topping & Dressing, or make your own. 

A good way to ensure less mess when transporting the nachos is to pack every ingredient individually. This method will also prevent soggy chips, which nobody wants. I like to pack them in airtight containers so that the ingredients stay warm for as long as possible. 

Another picnic-perfect dish is a batch of Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. These can also be easily catered towards vegans and vegetarians. Spring rolls are a personal favorite because they are nutritious, filling and can be stuffed with any vegetables you desire and a protein of your choice. 

Every three weeks or so when I was growing up, my family and I would have spring rolls nights. We laid out all of the fillings in front of us so that we could customize each and every roll we made. Spring rolls are my favorite dish, so I love to share them with my friends who have never tried them before — so far, all of them have really enjoyed eating them. 

For me, the perfect spring roll would consist of lettuce, crab imitation, bell peppers, onions, avocados, jalapeños, shrimp, sliced raw mushrooms and steamed Korean bean sprouts. Any of these fillings can be replaced with anything you so desire — for example, the lettuce can be replaced with sliced cabbage if you want a more crunchy texture. To make this vegan and vegetarian friendly, just use tofu as your protein, but honestly, this is a dish that is very filling even without a protein.

Making a spring roll is a very simple process. All you need is a bowl of room temperature water, a plate to roll your spring rolls on and your fillings laid out in front of you. Submerge the spring roll paper in the water until it is malleable and transparent. Then, once you place it on your plate, start to fill your roll with your toppings and roll it up. A tip is to think about making a spring roll like you are making a burrito. Instead of placing your fillings in the middle, I find it easier to place my fillings on one side and start to roll it from there.

To complement the rolls, I love to combine sriracha and hoisin sauce together. However, if you want to try an array of sauces, there are hundreds of spring roll sauces online, such as this peanut sauce. Overall, this dish is easy and perfect to make and pack for a fun picnic outside. To complement the spring rolls, I recommend bringing along bubble tea as it is refreshing and sweet to drink. If you are on Grounds, I recommend going to Kung Fu Tea or Moge Tea — two bubble tea shops on the Corner. 

A picnic, or any meal in fact, is not complete without dessert. Therefore, every time my friends and I go on a picnic, someone is always in charge of desserts. Some fun dessert ideas are homemade cake pops or chocolate covered strawberries. If you are feeling a little extra, buy a cake and eat it in wine cups — like the TikTok trend

What I love about picnics is that they are totally customizable, depending on what’s in your pantry or what you and your friends are craving that day. These picnics can be as big or as small as everyone desires and filled with everyone’s favorite dishes. Not only will you be able to get some sun, but you will also be able to get some healing times after a week of homework or exams. Good food and good company, what’s not to like? 

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