By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com
All you really need to enjoy a summer picnic is a blanket, warm weather, good food, loved ones, and an assortment of cheap picnic supplies. Here are some of our favorites, chosen for convenience and money-saving price tags.
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Picnic Basket/Cooler. When you think of a traditional picnic one of the first things that probably comes to mind is a red-and-white checked blanket and a wicker picnic basket. Cute, for sure, but not the most practical of picnic supplies. If you plan to pack any type of substantial picnic fare, you'll need some way to keep the food cool, which means a hamper that's insulated. A cooler is the obvious choice but if you don't have one, Living on the Cheap recommends the DIY approach: line a cardboard box with a trash bag and chill with ice packs. Alternatively, pick up a cheap picnic basket, like the $20 Picnic Time Topanga Insulated Cooler Tote, which users say provides excellent insulation and holds a lot of food (the equivalent of 24 cans of soda). One user notes it has stood up to more than two years of frequent use at large picnics.Set out time for a cheap picnic.
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Tableware and Cutlery. There are several options when it comes to cheap picnic tableware (in this case, blanketware). You can go the disposable route to minimize cleanup and buy the cheapest of the cheap plastic plates and cutlery. Better yet, go green along the reusable path while hewing to your cheap roots. We're partial to this reusable set for 10, costing just $21, from Preserve. Sure, you'll need to pack everything up and cart it all home, but cleanup is a breeze because all 10 large plates, 8 small plates, 24 pieces of cutlery and 10 tumblers are dishwasher safe and designed to hold up to dozens of outings.
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Where to Find Picnic Supplies. The best place to start looking for cheap picnic supplies is your own home. Take stock of what you have lying around -- plates, cutlery, blankets, etc. Consider packing up your own salt and pepper shakers, corkscrew, cloth napkins, cheese board and knife, etc. If you don't have a lot to work with, the local dollar store is a goldmine for cheap picnic supplies during the warm months; packs of reusable plastic plates, cutlery, cups, and more for, literally, dollars. Online retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair also offer low-cost picnic supplies, as do online dollar stores like Dollar General.
Other Considerations. As you plan your picnic don't forget non-food picnic supplies, such as trash bags (stock up for less from bulk retailers like Sam's Club and Costco), bug spray, and sunscreen. Check out our cheap sunscreen buying guide for the best and most affordable product to bring along on your next picnic.
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