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9 Budget Picnic Essentials

9 Budget Picnic Essentials

Looking for the perfect date idea but don’t have a lot to spend? Searching for a way to spend more time with your family without dining at costly restaurants? A picnic is one of the best ways to enjoy a meal with loved ones without spending a fortune. Even better, you can enjoy that meal in a scenic park, beach, or other area that inspires outdoor play and adventure.

Planning a picnic doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Pack these nine budget picnic essentials to create the perfect (romantic or fun) picnic environment without breaking your budget.

1. A Large Picnic Blanket

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    Your picnic blanket doesn’t have to be something that impresses fellow park-goers. It can easily be something you already have at home, such as an old blanket, a tapestry, or a sheet you no longer use. If you can’t find a blanket or sheet at home that will work, purchase one at a local thrift store and wash it before use.

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    2. A Cooler (or a Do-It-Yourself Cooler)

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      A picnic basket isn’t the most practical way of getting your picnic food and drinks to your destination. Instead of spending big bucks on a cute picnic basket, use a cooler that you already have at home. If you don’t have a cooler, you can make a temporary one by lining a large tote or plastic bin with a trash bag and placing ice packs inside.

      3. Affordable (Not Wasteful) Tableware

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        Disposable plastic tableware is an expense you don’t need to incur when planning a picnic. Disposable cutlery (and cups, plates, etc.) also create unnecessary waste. Instead, bring along reusable plastic plates, cups, and traditional cutlery from your home. Investing in a durable, reusable set of plastic tableware, which will cost about $20, can also save you from multiple purchases of disposable items if you plan to picnic often. Don’t forget to bring one sharp knife for cutting.

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        4. A Natural Bug Repellant

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          Pesky mosquitoes, ants, and other bugs can easily destroy a pleasant picnic. Most commercial bug sprays are expensive, unpleasant to smell (and touch), and can be harmful when used around foods. Items you already have around the house, like fresh-squeezed lemon and garlic cloves, can keep bugs at bay naturally. Try sprinkling cornstarch or baby powder around the perimeter of your picnic blanket to keep ants away too.

          The one-time purchase of a reusable citronella candle will also provide a pleasant picnic atmosphere while shielding you from tiny, flying pests.

          5. Affordable, Easy-to-Transport Foods

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            Aside from the company, the food is the most important part of your picnic, and it can be the most stressful part of planning. Keep in mind that meats are difficult to transport, and they are often the most costly part of the meal. Opt for cheaper alternatives, like eggs, tuna, and fresh bread, to create a delicious and affordable main course. Don’t forget to shop for in-season items, and you’ll probably be able to find fresh, budget-friendly fruits and vegetables to serve with homemade dips.

            6. Cheap (But Good) Wine

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              For many, especially romantics, wine is an essential picnic item. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a bottle that tastes good. Grocery stores are loaded with tasty wines that hover between $8 and $10. Trader Joe’s offers its famous “Two Buck Chuck,” Charles Shaw variety of wines, which can be purchased for $1.99 to $3.39. The grocery store has sold more than 600 million bottles of the stuff, so it must taste good.

              7. Reusable Water Bottles

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                By now, we all know that purchasing bottled water can be expensive and harmful to the environment. Pack one reusable water bottle, filled with a favorite drink, for each member of your picnic party. Using different colored bottles for each person can help distinguish drinks and avoid arguments among little ones.

                8. Homemade First-Aid Kit

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                  A first-aid kit is an essential part of every picnic, especially if you’ll be taking kids. That doesn’t mean you have to go purchase a costly first-aid kit from a camping supply store. The American Red Cross website offers a list of items that should be included in every first-aid kit, so you can use the items you have at home to create your own.

                  9. A Lantern or Candles

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                    The shorter days of the winter season mean you may want some light if you want to extend an evening picnic past dark. Bring candles from home to illuminate your picnic area or purchase a single camping lantern that you can use for all nighttime outdoor adventures. If you have the proper picnic supplies on hand, you’re more likely to picnic more often.

                    Featured photo credit: Michell Zappa via flickr.com

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                    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                    12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

                    12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

                    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

                    1. Nuts

                    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                    2. Blueberries

                    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                    3. Tomatoes

                    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                    4. Broccoli

                    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                    6. Soy

                    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                    7. Dark chocolate

                    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

                    15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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                    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

                    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                    10. Gingko biloba

                    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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                    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

                    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                    11. Green and black tea

                    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                    Find out more about green tea here:

                    11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                    12. Sage and Rosemary

                    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

                    More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                    Reference

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