Our favourite shop-bought picnic staples

By
Jack Birch
Added
10 June, 2016

To achieve the perfect British picnic, there are some things that you can't avoid; clouds rolling over the minute you step out the door, an army of ants crawling inside your clothes, and 'who was meant to bring the bottle opener?' However, Cooked are here to give you the low down on this summer’s essential picnic items, so despite the changeable weather and creepy-crawlies, you’ll be able to pull off a successful al fresco dining experience.

The best sausage rolls


Sausage rolls should be the first item you buy for your picnic, and you need look no further than Waitrose’s 12 Flaky Mini Pork Sausage Rolls, £2.49. The pillowy pastry makes these bitesized rolls light and extremely moreish. The sausage meat contains a pleasant mix of herby flavours and is not too peppery. The ratio of pastry to meat strikes a good balance. You’ll not want to stop at one, two or three.


The best crisps and dip combo


Marks and Spencer’s ‘Spirit of Summer’ range could single-handedly define your summer of picnics. In their snacks range they have Smoky Tennessee Rib Flavour Hand Cooked Crisps £2, a gloriously meaty offering which recalls the sat-fat drenched beef crisps of your childhood (this is a good thing). With this, we’d recommend the Cooling Minty Yoghurt Dip, £1.50, in the same range. The mixture of the two has a Tex-Mex feel and would be very popular across the gingham blanket.


The show-stopper


Marks & Spencer's Smoky Octopus and Chorizo in a Smoky Oloroso Dressing£3.50: this Mediterranean medley, involving octopus tentacles bear-hugging chorizo, is a left-field crowd pleaser. The octopus, which could be in danger of being too chewy, is well preserved and cooked. The Oloroso sherry gives the smoky flavour balance.


The best quiche



Like the EU referendum, whether to take a quiche to a picnic has divided a nation. Some saying that quiche should be eaten hot, and only hot, while others couldn't bear a picnic without one. The Morrison's Signature Caramelised Onion and Goat's Cheese Tart , £2.77, is the best value on the market. The highlight is the caramelised onion layer, sandwiched between pastry, which really complements the cheesy filling.


The best hummus


The Dip Society's Super Duper Hummus, £2.49 from Ocado, is the best ready-made bean dip we've tried, and trust us, we've tried many. The creamy texture and gutsy seasoning makes it perfect for spreading over flatbreads, or using as an excuse to eat a sharing bag of posh crisps to yourself. 


The best sharer



Waitrose Sweet Potato Falafels, £2.29, have a magnetic power that keeps you coming back for more. These bites are undeniably addictive. Delicately spiced with the three c's - cumin, coriander and currants – the falafels are perfect to go with the aforementioned minty yoghurt dip. Amazing balls: if only there was a portmanteau to describe this.


The best liquid lunch



We had to check whether there was actually any alcohol in Marks and Spencer’s Guava and Lime Caipirinha Sparkling Fizz with White Wine and Cachaca Rum, £6 (a refreshingly low 5.5%), as it was so smooth to drink. This cocktail is a perfect palette cleanser in between sausage rolls and smoky octopuses. The fruity, tropical flavour makes it refreshing, perfect for an afternoon tipple on a hot and sunny day. Helpfully the bottle is corked, so you have no choice but to finish it then and there. It's my drink of the summer.

The best meat platter



Sainsbury's Italian Antipasto Platter, £4, contains prosciutto, Napoli salami and Milano salami. The variety of flavours is perfect with the peppery Milano salami a highlight. Serve with Thomas J Fudge's Punchy Stilton Wafers, £2.25, and you're on to a picnic winner.


The best cake



Although the packaging is rather unassuming, the Waitrose Lemon and Lime Drizzle Cake, £4.99, is a spectacular way to finish your picnic.  The sponge is light and fluffy and the zesty lime and lemon filling is sharp, complementing the sugary icing. Warning: may result in sticky fingers.

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