While you’re dreaming of taking off on a spontaneous summer road trip with your new flame, the realities of life may leave you stuck at home without the funds to head out on the open road. However, a tight wallet doesn’t mean you can’t create a romantic getaway of your own. This summer, plan a picnic date with the object of your affection and enjoy a romantic afternoon for two… one that will help you get away from the stresses of daily life for a few hours, and help you connect on a deeper level with someone special!

Setting the Stage: Supplies for a Comfy Picnic

The ambiance is perhaps even more important than what you eat, so choose a location that has soft grass and a bit of privacy so you aren’t surrounded by runners or kids playing nearby. Set up under a tree for shade, or plan to bring an umbrella along so you aren’t burning in the sun. Spread out a big picnic blanket and bring along a few pillows to make it easy get comfortable and relax. Portable speakers and a playlist of some of your favorite love songs create the perfect romantic setting.

Main Dish: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Leave the PB&J sandwiches for those times when you’re in a rush – and instead plan a delicious Rachael Ray-style barbeque dish for your picnic date. For a tasty and healthy meal from the Food Network, throw together these Barbequed Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Simply cook the chicken pieces, mushrooms, scallions, ginger, garlic, water chestnuts and hoisin sauce before you leave. Then pack this delicious dish in a Tupperware container and bring along some crispy iceberg lettuce leaves to create wraps at your picnic site. Don’t forget a few wet wipes to clean off your fingers when you’re done!

Cool and Refreshing Salads

Keeping with the summer theme, toss together a few fresh ingredients for a summer salad. Particularly if you live in a warm climate, a salad is cool and refreshing to the palate. Toss together a fruit salad with melon, mint, and cucumber slices, which combine wonderfully and leave a cool aftertaste. You can also prepare a savory pasta salad. Rather than a mayonnaise-based dressing (which can be cloying), stick to fresh flavors. Use basil, tomatoes, olives and cubes of fresh mozzarella, plus a vinaigrette.

Dessert: Simple Yet Decadent Treats

Ignite the feeling of romance with heart-warming treats and sweet ingredients. One winning combination is a slice of cheesecake paired with fresh raspberry syrup or jam and dark chocolate shavings. You can also simply bake brownies with dried cherries or cranberries mixed into the batter for a fancy touch.

Drinks: Don’t Forget the Wine

A bottle of wine will help to encourage a little flirting for a truly romantic setting. Chilled white wine is wonderfully refreshing on a picnic and pairs well with lighter fare. Don’t forget the water either, especially if you’ll be walking a long distance to your picnic site for a leisurely afternoon. Once you’re outside and enjoying the beautiful setting around you, you can leave your worries behind and get to know that sweet person sitting across from you a little better!

Kelly Martin is a writer and stay-at-home mom living in Portland, Oregon.
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