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Top tips for al fresco dining


With spring already here and the promise of sunnier days peeking over the horizon, you may already be spending more time in the great outdoors. If you're keen to make the most of the sunshine, consider hosting your very own al fresco dining experience at home.

Outdoor dining can be as simple as soggy sandwiches on a picnic blanket, but there are plenty of ways you can easily elevate your experience this summer.

Set the scene

garden dinner party decorations

If you’re planning on hosting in your own back garden, you may want to consider revitalising the space. Simple but bright decorations like fairy lights, bunting, and lanterns can really transform your garden and make you feel like you’re dining in a distant holiday destination. A great way to bring the space alive is the addition of floral arrangements or fresh garden herbs.

Keep it local

Cv115 Uncle Henrys 190118

When you’re planning your al fresco menu, remember that quality is key. In Lincolnshire, we’re lucky to have so many suppliers of fantastic produce right on our doorsteps. So when you’re choosing ingredients for your BBQ, consider supporting local producers. Mountain’s Boston Sausage, Uncle Henry’s, or Grasmere Farm are all great options for delicious, locally produced burgers and sausages. Top your burgers off with Lincolnshire Poacher cheese and wash them down with a local ale from suppliers such as Docks Beers or Batemans Brewery.

Try small plates

Open Salmon Sandwich Resized

If you manage to plan your al fresco experience on a particularly hot day, you may find that your diners prefer handy nibbles to a heavy meal. A light bite like a smoked salmon open sandwich - featuring smoked salmon from Grimsby’s Alfred Enderby - is the perfect addition to a summer menu. Not only is the finished product totally Instagram-worthy, your guests can enjoy the rich and complex flavours of this canapé without being stuck behind a dinner table. Try the recipe here.

Mix things up

Chic Skewers Resized

Don’t be afraid to venture into unchartered cooking territories. The standard BBQ menu may taste overcooked to many and there’s no reason to stick to the safest option when there are so many delicious alternatives. Small plates are the perfect opportunity to flex your creative culinary muscles and try new herbs, spices, and flavour combinations. You may even discover your new signature dish! For a tasty twist on a BBQ classic, try our Tikka Chicken Skewers recipe using a flavoursome curry paste from Scunthorpe-based Mr Huda’s.

Prepare for the British weather

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We all know that the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to prepare for a change of temperature. If your heart is set on outdoor dining and you’re determined to brave the elements, having a back-up plan is a good idea. Keep a stock of blankets, cushions, and parasols so you’re well prepared if the sun disappears.

Lincolnshire Co-op stocks products from more than 60 suppliers in the Love Local range – find your nearest food store here.