A picnic lunch doesn't have to mean a three-course meal. Bringing the basics and a variety of snacks will be enough to keep people happy and Here are some tips both from trial and observation to help you plan the perfect picnic and save a little green:
-Don't underestimate Chinatown. A great picnic snack that is both refreshing and healthy is fruit, but fresh produce can be a bank breaker in New York. FF reader Jason suggests heading to Chinatown to buy fruit for a fraction of the cost. Five pounds of strawberries and grapes go for under $5 -- a deal you'll never find at Gristedes or Whole Foods.
-Pop a bottle and skip the beer. Buy a cheap bottle of champagne to enjoy with friends. It makes a picnic more festive and goes a lot farther than a six-pack.
-Fill 'er up. Instead of buying overpriced bottles of water from street vendors all day, fill up a cantine or thermos with ice and water to bring with you. It will keep you hydrated throughout the day. And don't forget to pack plastic, reusable cups so you and your friends won't create unnecessary waste.
-Make food that goes a long way. No one wants hot meals when sitting in the hot sun, but buying pre-made, store-bought salads can be pricey. Make a big bowl of cold macaroni salad with veggies and dressing in advance. It's a low-cost way to hit the hunger spot and feed all your friends.
-Snacks to refuel. Pita chips, nuts and pretzels make for easy snacks that will keep people satisfied throughout the day (and won't go bad in the heat).
Lastly, don't forget frisbees, playing cards and magazines to complete the festivities!