No matter which way you look at it, picnics = schlep.
Don’t get me wrong, I love making my own picnic food. But there is a ton of prep involved in it all. From making the food to packing the bags, and then pulling it all off with your sanity intact. Honestly, sometimes I think it’s not worth the hassle.
Pick a picnic
Pre-order picnic baskets are nothing new. Most hospitality venues across South Africa will put together a family basket should you want to give the onsite restaurant a skip and head outdoors with the kids for lunch. These days, a number of caterers also offer picnic baskets that you can book ahead of time and collect en route to your fav picnic spot.
But when you’re trying to cultivate a healthy and natural family lifestyle, it can be difficult to find suppliers that tick all the boxes. The Long Suffering Husband always says there’s little point in buying someone else’s food if you could have made it better yourself.
I agree. So I’ve always been a little apprehensive about booking a pre-order picnic box, dreading the thought of opening it only to find meals that weren’t well prepared, that didn’t taste good, or that comprised wilted salads, soggy sarmies and warm foods that, well, shouldn’t be warm.
What about the waste?
And then there’s the waste. I really don’t like plastic, and try to keep as much of it out of our house as possible. When it comes to pre-ordered picnics though, it seems unavoidable. Often, patés, dips, sauces, salads and single-serve items are packaged in plastic.
While it’s true this plastic may be recyclable, the chances of that actually happening after you’ve dropped it in the bin on your way out the picnic site, are slim. Knowing that your picnic remains became landfill makes the whole thing even more unpalatable.
It’s for all these reasons that my recent discovery of The Wilderness Picnic Co. was such a happy, serendipitous moment.
Happy, wholesome picnic boxes
I can tell you right now, if you love family picnics but not the fuss, you’ll fall head over heels for The Wilderness Picnic Co.’s marvellously moreish pre-order picnic boxes. Not only are they totally scrummy, right down to the last morsel, but they’re 100% green too!
The company is based in Wilderness, a seaside village in the Garden Route, and positions itself as a supplier of ‘healthy, homemade picnics, where all the food is preservative free and packed in 100% biodegradable and compostable packaging.’
I did a serious happy dance when I first read that, and couldn’t wait to explore this good-for-you and good-for-the-planet picnic offering.
We gave The Wilderness Picnic Co. a bit of a tall order: they had to cater for 1 banting dad (no carbs), a vegetarian mom (no meat) and 2 kids. And I’m delighted to say, they nailed it!
The flavours were fresh, exciting and robust. The food was all handmade (no shop bought stuff here!), clearly by a passionate chef who enjoys playing with tastes and textures, and who pays great attention to detail.
And it was beautifully packaged, from the handwritten note on the big brown picnic box to the bright nasturtiums that decorated the dishes.
Unpacking it all was a little like fishing for presents under the tree on Christmas morning: each plain, unmarked box (and there were many!) was a surprise, giving nothing away of the deliciousness that was hidden inside.
At first glance, the food boxes appear to be ordinary polystyrene takeaway boxes. But a closer look reveals there is nothing ordinary about these boxes at all.
Off-white and slightly textured, they’re actually produced from bagasse, which is the waste fibre that is left behind after sugarcane has been pressed for its juice.
Bagasse is a sustainable and renewable resource, and being all-natural, allows the food inside to breathe (no soggy sarmies!). The Wilderness Picnic Co. supplies bagasse food boxes, plates, bowls and ice-cream cups with their pre-ordered picnic boxes.
Food is also packaged in ecobowls fashioned from sustainably produced cardboard, recycled paper and bioplastic, which to the untrained eye looks just like real plastic (I did a double take!).
Bioplastic is produced from plant sources such as hemp oil, soy bean oil and corn starch, and has none of the nasties in it like conventional plastic, which is petroleum based.
The Wilderness Picnic Co. maximises its use of this plastic, using it for its raw dishes, sauces, special items like dukkah, and knives and forks.
The absolute cherry on top is that the packaging is not just made from sustainable materials, but it is 100% biodegradable and compostable.
What does that mean? Quite simply, you can add it straight to your household compost heap when you get home where it will break down (yes, even the plastic) into compost for your garden.
It’s a great approach by The Wilderness Picnic Co., and one that makes for waste-free, clear conscience picnicking.
So, what was in the box?
In a nutshell, a little bit of happiness! This is what we tucked into:
The kids were spoiled with:
My absolute favourites were the veg quiche (the veg was still full of flavour, and not cooked within an inch of its life); the potato salad (the parmesan and herbs elevate this spud salad to dizzying delicious heights); the hummus with its rich depth of flavour; and of course, those decadent brownies!
Once the olive oil was all mopped up, I resorted to scooping up hummus with chunks of bread and then dunking this into the dukkah with its warm, rounded spiced flavour of cumin, cinnamon and turmeric.
Long Suffering Husband revelled in the low-carb quiches, crackers and Caprese salad, and refused to share the figs and cheese!
The boys savoured their sausage rolls (which we served on our handy picnic box table to help along all that tomato sauce dipping), but were most impressed with their fruit salad and swoon-worthy brownies.
Having had reflux as a baby, The Middle Child is quite a fussy eater. But he was no match for this picnic fare, and devoured the lot!
If you’re headed down to the Garden Route this summer, do yourself a favour and book a picnic box from The Wilderness Picnic Co. Aside from their eco-friendly approach and delightful dishes, they also offer a map of all the best picnic spots in the area, making this the absolute in fuss-free family picnics.
Picnic boxes range in price from R270 to R450 per couple. Kids’ boxes are costed at R90.00 per child.
Orders can be placed via the website at www.wildernesspicnic.co.za before 10pm the day before the planned picnic date.
Payment is via the website, EFT or COD. Delivery in the Wilderness area is included.
Tel: 081 261 4981
Fax: 086 604 3997
Disclaimer: The Wilderness Picnic Co. gifted this picnic box to our family for the purpose of reviewing their healthy food offerings and eco-packaging, both of which are in line with the Muddy Boots Blog brand ethos.