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How to Enjoy Eating Outside All Summer Long

Enjoy al fresco dining any night of the week with these simple tips.

As the weather starts to warm up, make the most of the sunshine and fresh air by eating al fresco, or having dinner outside. Eating al fresco doesn’t need to be reserved for a special occasion. These ideas will make setting up and cleaning up easier so you can enjoy more meals on your back porch or patio, even on a weeknight. Follow these easy tips to make the process simple and fun.  

1. Create an Inviting Atmosphere  

Keep a few simple pieces of weather-safe furniture on hand so you can head outside right when the weather starts to warm up instead of having to move furniture from storage. Add instant ambience with cushions, pillows, and blankets as needed, as well as a string (or two!) of outdoor lights. This way the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun sets. 

A simple tablecloth paired with a vase or two of fresh flowers from your garden or the store makes the table setting feel special without lots of effort. You could also add small pots of fresh herbs down the center of the table—a great take home favor for guests.  

2. Keep Bugs at Bay  

Get ahead of bugs by lighting some citronella candles or a citronella lamp for your patio or porch area. Keep them off the dining table (their scent can be a bit strong). Let them burn for a few minutes before you bring out the food to chase away any unwelcome bugs. 

 Peppermint, citrus, lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus essential oils can also naturally repel bugs. Add 5 drops of any of those essential oils for every 1 ounce of water in a spray bottle, then spray your patio and your patio furniture with it to keep bugs away. As a bonus, your dining area will smell great.

3. Get Out Your Sheet Pans 

Use sheet pans to stay organized and to easily transport what you need from your kitchen to your patio or grill and back again. This way you can reduce the number of trips you make and keep prep and cleanup simple.  

While in the kitchen, set up separate sheet pans with what you’ll need to set the dining table, what you’ll need for the grill, and food items. You can also have a sheet pan for your beverage station. After the meal, load separate sheet pans by dishes that need to be washed, items to put away, and items to toss. Recruit some helpers to carry the sheet pans outside and inside to limit back and forth trips even more.  

4. Keep These Items on Hand

These products make serving al fresco meals even easier.  

  • Shatterproof dishware: Sturdy melamine or plastic cups, bowls, and plates will keep any outdoor dinner worry-free.  
  • Mason jars: A screw top lid will keep bugs away from beverages and be easier to transport without the risk of spilling. You can portion these ahead and refrigerate. Remember to skip the glass jars if small children will be at the table. 
  • Muffin tins: If burgers or hot dogs are on the menu, fill the cups of one or two muffin tins with condiments, pickles, sliced tomatoes, and more so you don’t need to bring several containers to and from the kitchen.  
  • Plastic-lined platters for the grill: Cover your platter with plastic wrap before adding raw meats for the grill. Discard the plastic, then transfer the grilled items to the clean platter.   

5. Cue up Some Al Fresco Ready Recipes 

Now that you’re ready for al fresco feasts all summer long, you need something to cook. These 20 Savory recipes offer everything from drinks to mains to desserts. Enjoy! 

Get the recipes: https://www.savoryonline.com/articles/alfresco-recipes/

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