Food | Planning the Perfect Picnic & Supporting Locally Sourced Fortnight*

We have had some amazing weather this weekend and when it is sunny out I love nothing more than going out for a picnic! Harry and I always keep our picnic basket in the car which makes it really easy to pick up some food and go out for a drive whenever the mood takes us and as the East of England Co-op is currently hosting Locally Sourced Fortnight (1st-14th June) we decided that this would be a great opportunity to try some local produce too. Where we live we are surrounded by the main supermarket chains and we find it really difficult to know where we can buy locally produced food as unfortunately there just aren't any independent butchers, greengrocers or delicatessens around. You can imagine then how intrigued I was when I first heard about Locally Sourced Fortnight and when I discovered we had a participating store just ten minutes away I knew I needed an excuse to pay a visit!

I love picnics because they are really simple to do and very easy to jazz up too. I've had my picnic basket for five years now and it is still going strong so it is definitely a worthwhile investment to make. You'll also need a blanket (to make things a bit more cozy) and in this weather you must wear suncream! I love to get a tan but I love my skin more, it is so important to put some SPF on, even if it doesn't seem that hot out, as your skin will thank you for it! I also like to bring along some reading material to relax with once I've had my fill of food. 

Of course the most essential part of any picnic is the food and drink! If you've been following @EoECoop on Twitter you've probably seen a lot of the delicious looking locally produced food that they have been sharing over the past week and it has really had me drooling. While not all of the produce is available in every store (I lucked out on the yummy cream and scones!) there are lots of products to choose from. We were amazed that we could pick up everything we needed for the perfect picnic from a locally sourced supplier and everything seemed so much more tempting than anything we would normally pick up in Tesco. 

As you can see from my photo above I've listed every staple you need for the perfect picnic (although you really should add some fresh fruit which we forgot while we were eyeing up the sweeties!) and the beauty of a picnic is that you can keep these as basic or as fancy as you like. We took the opportunity to try lots of new things from local suppliers instead of the usual mass-produced stuff and it felt like such a treat! Aside from everything looking amazing it also feels good to support the people that work so hard to grow and make everything especially when they live and work in our region. I love reading about the suppliers on the back of the food labels too as it makes it more personal. The food has also traveled less distance to make it into stores, which means it is better for the environment and fresher. 

Harry and I love our food so it's important that our picnic has enough selection, tastes great and will fill us up. We always pick up bread, meat and cheese first, Harry likes to make his into a sandwich whereas I like to eat mine all separately, like a Ploughman's. I really enjoyed the edam cheese that we bought (I may or may not have eaten a huge wedge of it!) and Harry raved about the slices of 'proper' chicken (none of that processed rubbish). Our favourites had to be the crisps and the drinks though. We chose an apple juice and a still lemonade that both tasted so crisp and fresh that they really stole the show for us. The crisps were also a highlight as we picked up two bags of slightly unusual flavours, Chorizo & Tomato, and Sweet Chilli, which were really flavourful and moreish. Harry demolished the cookie in record time so I think that was a hit and I loved the sour sweeties too. 

After we'd munched our way through everything and were feeling quite full we chilled in the sun for while to make the most of our day out in the sunshine. When the weather is like this it really sucks to not have garden at home so we like to spend us much time outside as possible. The sun was really warm as we both sprawled out on the blanket to read our magazines before we had to drive home. We  often go out for a drive on a weekend and this time we'd decided to take a trip to Epping Forest which is about half an hour from where we live, if you're ever in the area it is great for taking a stroll and there are lots of trees for climbing too.

Later on once we got home it was time to try out another of our special buys! As well as the picnic food we picked up something for dinner (and a few other treats that I will be sharing with you later in the week). I absolutely love sweet chilli sauce, as you may have already picked up on from my choice of crisps, and when the weather is warm my favourite dinner to cook is sweet chilli chicken, Mediterranean vegetables and rice. When I saw that there was a sweet chilli sauce available from a local supplier I knew I had to try it, so that and some good British chicken made dinner really easy. The sauce is described as perfect for families to enjoy which I'd agree with as it isn't too hot at all, it has a really nice sweet flavour and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get through it all in no time! 

We had a really great weekend enjoying the weather and lots of good food so I hope I've inspired you to hold your own picnic too! I'd also highly recommend that you check out Locally Sourced Fortnight before it finishes this week as I think you'll be surprised at how easy it is to swap to locally sourced and how tasty it is! For the chance to win a week's supply of local food make sure you check the East of England Co-op's competition here, and you can also enter the draw for the chance to try some locally sourced strawberries for free here

* I was compensated for this post in the form of a gift voucher from the East of England Co-op but all opinions are my own, as always. 



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