By Korky Vann / Hartford Courant
Memorial Day, the kickoff of the picnic season is just ahead. If you love outdoor entertaining, but find that al fresco dining for a crowd is eating a hole in your budget, we’ve got ways to picnic on a dime.
- Save some trees and save money by skipping paper plates and throwaway flatware. Check the dollar store for a set of plastic dishes you can wash and reuse for the whole season. Walmart has some great plastic plates, bowls and cups for $1 a package.
- Pick up condiments, plastic wrap and aluminum foil at the dollar store.
- This is the season for sales on picnic foods at area supermarkets, so when you see a great deal on hot dogs, veggie burgers, beans, etc. fill your freezer
- Make your own salads. Five lbs. of potatoes and a jar of mayo will cost you a couple dollars, pre-made potato salad from the deli runs $4.99 a pound or more.
- Get discounted rolls, breads and cookies at the Pepperidge Farm Outlet store in Bloomfield and other bakery outlets around the state.
- Skip individual cans and bottled drinks and mix up a jug of lemonade, iced tea or fruit punch.
- Keep things cold with DIY ice packs. Rinse out plastic milk or juice jugs then fill with water and freeze.
- Have a potluck picnic. You provide the sides and guests bring their own meats to thow on the grill or you provide the burgers and dogs and guests bring salads and sides.
- One of the most inexpensive and popular picnic desserts is watermelon.