How to Pack the Perfect (Minimalist) Picnic Basket

Don’t attempt a summertime picnic without these essentials

Picnicking in Los Angeles is delightful in theory but stressful in practice: There’s almost always a surplus of assembling, lugging, and food. But maybe we’ve been doing it wrong. “If you’re taking home as much food as you packed in, that’s a bad sign,” says Kathryn Coker, co-owner of Esters Wine Shop & Bar. Her advice? When it comes to plein air eating, keep it simple. “The less you’re focused on assembling the meal,” she says, “the more valuable time you have outside.” Coker gives us the lowdown on her favorite essentials.


When it comes to carbs, crackers work in a pinch—but Coker prefers a crustier option. “There’s something about tearing of a piece of a fresh baguette that feels very picnicky.”


For cheese—a must—“anything semi-firm, especially Alpine-style cheeses like Gruyère, are great because they’re easy to slice and don’t need to stay cold,” Coker says. “Comté is a good bet, too.”

Sqirl’s Raspberry Rhubarb Jam

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For a touch of sweet, Coker adds a spread. “Fruit jams go well with meat and cheese, and you can make little sandwiches. Pepper jelly is also fantastic.”

Caramel Corn

Finger foods are always a win. “It’s nice to have a snack on hand that’s a bit indulgent, especially if you’re bringing kids,” Coker says. “I like caramel corn because you’ve got sweet and salty covered.”

Hoxie Spritzer

B’ing YOB is a no-no in parks, but Coker has tips for rule-breakers. “Anything sparkling is a crowd-pleaser. Hoxie Spritzer is great. It comes in a can, and it’s from L.A.”

Olympia Provisions Salami Finocchiona

No need for ice packs—Coker suggests nonperishables. “These salamis are delicious and keep well. Invest in a French foldable knife for slicing, and pack clean tea towels, which double as place mats and napkins.”

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