The 31st of August is Eat Outside Day.
In the northern hemisphere, some people regard this as the last day of summer, though in reality that’s actually not until the 22nd of September.
The number of warm days left to eat al fresco are certainly numbered, though, and today can serve as a prelude to the fast-approaching Labour Day weekend.
You can go rustic or fancy when eating outside today. If you are picnicking or tailgating, finger food can be ideal to minimize the need for tableware.
If it’s raining today, you can always eat undercover — an awning or a gazebo
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 to 2021 caused many North American cities to rediscover outdoor dining. Here’s one town’s solution born from that time period which could be of interest still to other towns going forward:
“For starters, [Garland, Texas] has encouraged residents to grab a bite on the historic downtown square. Located in the heart of the city, the square is close to public transport and surrounded by restaurants and cafes. Better still, 11 restaurants on the square are currently participating in “Square Meal,” a program offering takeout orders that diners can enjoy away from crowds outside. Diners can ask for the “Square Meal” special when ordering at any of the restaurants participating in the program, and they will receive a picnic tablecloth, a dinner plate, a salad plate, flatware and napkins. After that, they can walk over to the square’s outdoor “food hall” and find a comfortable place to sit at a patio table equipped with an umbrella.”  Strickland, Patrick. On National Eat Outside Day, Garland makes open-air dining a breeze. Dallas, Texas: The Dallas Morning News. 28 August 2020. Accessed July 2021 at https://www.dallasnews.com/food/2020/08/28/on-national-eat-outside-day-garland-makes-open-air-dining-a-breeze/
Activities for today
- Have an outdoors meal with friends on a restaurant patio, on your balcony, on your back deck, or on a picnic;
- if going to a park, grab a picnic table in a park, or bring a blanket or a folding table and chairs;
- drive the car to a nice place in the country and have a tailgate meal;
- if you are having a picnic, make sure to bring a trash bag and collect all trash you create, and take it with you if there are no trash cans or if the trash cans are full;
- arrange a lunch for the entire office in an adjoining patio or up on the rooftop;
- combine eating outdoors with a pot luck;
- go for a boat cruise that offers dining on the deck, or find a nice waterside restaurant with patio tables along the water;
- if you are a member of a business improvement association, organize outdoor dining in your local town square;
- if you are a member of a charitable group, organize an outdoor eating event as a fundraiser;
- if you are having guests around for an outside dinner, don’t forget to allow for outdoor lighting to transition into evening;
- simple menus for outdoors work best.
Food safety for outdoor dining
For food safety outdoors, make sure you have a way to keep hot food that should be kept hot, and to keep chilled food that should be kept chilled.
BBQ Food safety (Food Standards Agency UK)
Food safety outdoors (Better Health Australia)
The first print mention that CooksInfo is aware of for an “Eat Outside Day” in August dates from 2010 in Illinois:
“An even better day is Tuesday, Aug. 31, which is National Eat Outside Day. The day’s origin is unknown, but the purpose is pretty obvious – you should grab your lunch and take it outdoors. Have lunch on your deck, invite your friends over for a cookout, or, like the Financial Plus and OfficeMax employees, go to a restaurant with outdoor seating.” — Zuda, Stephanie. A good day to eat outside: Celebrate National East Outside Day Aug. 31. Streator, Illinois: The Times. Wednesday, 25 August 2010. Page B5, col. 2.
Accioly, Juliana. Where to Celebrate National Eat Outside Day This Weekend. Miami, Florida: Miami New Times. 30 August 2019. Accessed July 2021 at https://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/where-to-celebrate-national-eat-outside-day-august-31-11253223
ChoiceDek® Shares Tips for Getting the Most Out of “National Eat Outside Day” on August 31st. PR Web. 30 August 2018. Accessed July 2021 at https://www.prweb.com/releases/ choicedek_shares_tips_for_getting_the_most_out_of_national_eat_outside_day_on_august_31st/ prweb15729010.htm
Eat Outside Day. Halifax, Nova Scotia: 101.9 FM. 31 August 2021. Accessed July 2021 at https://fx1019.ca/event/eat-outside-day/
Jones, Jay. Dining outdoors in Vegas on National Eat Outside Day — or any day. Los Angeles, California: The Los Angeles Times. 27 August 2014. Accessed July 2021 at https://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-las-vegas-dining-outdoors-20140826-story.html
National Eat Outside Day 2020: LA’s Al Fresco program helps give restaurants boost on tasty holiday. Los Angeles, California: KABC-TV. 31 August 2020. Accessed July 2021 at https://abc7.com/national-eat-outside-day-2020-al-fresco/6397635/
Thompson, Amy Drew. Go al fresco, Orlando! 8 prime patios for National Eat Outside Day. Orlando, Florida: The Orlando Sentinel. 28 August 2020. Accessed July 2021 at https://www.orlandosentinel.com/food-restaurants/os-et-orlandos-best-patios-for-national-eat-outside-day-liststory-20200828-uzcvn7momjcrzimrps7hervb5q-list.html
|↑1||Strickland, Patrick. On National Eat Outside Day, Garland makes open-air dining a breeze. Dallas, Texas: The Dallas Morning News. 28 August 2020. Accessed July 2021 at https://www.dallasnews.com/food/2020/08/28/on-national-eat-outside-day-garland-makes-open-air-dining-a-breeze/|