I’m going to simply call this great little piece of equipment a picnic food cover, but I’ve heard it being called a multitude of different names. Some people go off the material they believe it’s made of, saying it’s a screen, net or mesh cover. Others go by its looks and call them a tent, an umbrella, or dome covers. And then you have people naming them after how they function, pop-up or collapsible food covers. Call this gizmo what you want, it seems it doesn’t matter, what’s important is what people intend to use it for. And that’s the same the world over. To keep flies and other micro monsters off your food.
Best Food Cover
Many firms are competing in the outdoor food protection marketplace with most trying to be just that little bit different so as to stand out from the crowd. This isn’t easy with food covers as they’re essentially a very simple concept but Picnic Pal have definitely upped their game and produced what is easily the best food cover currently available.
It’s easy for me to claim the Picnic Pal is the best food cover but I’m sure you’d like me to justify this statement. Thankfully this isn’t hard. Like many of the better food covers, the Picnic Pal is made of a mesh-like material that lets the food breath while still keeping out the bugs. This alone would put it in contention for best food cover given the competition are all basically just breathable mesh but the makers of this cover have decided they wanted a stand out product. They have done this by turning their mesh dome into a miniature tent, complete with a flap door opening and a built-in ground mat.
People say the simplest ideas are often the best and it’s definitely the case with these seemingly obvious alterations. The easy access flap door now means you no longer have guests looking a bit silly when they lift the traditional food cover with one hand, having a plate in the other and then realize they need a third hand to plate-up some food.
This unique means of accessing the food now means the food cover can have a floor mat. Why? Because not all outdoor picnic invaders are of the flying kind. Some crawl along the floor. And unfortunately for them they will find you have outsmarted them and they’ll have to crawl on by to find an easier target. If you’re really worried about flies and other bugs read our outdoor bug control guide.
With the Picnic Pal coming in two different sizes (picnic size and protection tent XL) and with the subtle adjustments and great price you’ll have to be a little bit crazy to buy any other outdoor food cover. This is by far the best mesh cover, and it isn’t even a close competition. But let’s still have a look at what else is available, if just to show you how much better this picnic food cover is.
Large Food Cover – Most picnics and BBQs will have a substantial amount of food, so the obvious thinking for most people when considering covers is bigger is better. If that’s also your mindset then you might consider the giant outdoor tabletop food cover from M. V. Trading.
Food cover set – It is a good idea to have a large food cover available but if outdoor entertaining is something you plan to do on a regular basis I’d recommend getting one large cover and a few smaller ones. And this is where buying a good food cover set will come in handy. Ming’s Mark offer a great selection in their set, and this isn’t the 3-peice food cover set you’ll typically find, but a 7-peice set with four additional drink covers.
Traditional Mesh Food Covers – If the traditional food dome is what you want then there are loads of choices available. Handy Gourmet does some lovely circular pop-up food covers, XONOR has gone for the mesh tent look and Amian Shop has made a beautiful umbrella food cover.
Microwave Food Cover
Microwave!! These aren’t picnic food covers I hear you say. And you’re right, but I offer these up as outdoor covers because it might be something you already have available. Or you might want to get these because you’re on a budget and you want to buy something you’ll get more use from.
Of course, if you plan to use a microwave food cover for picnicking then you have to take into account storage, so you’ll want a collapsable one that takes up minimum space. Thankfully, Tovolo offer the perfect collapsible microwave cover. Obviously, with it’s intended use being a microwave these covers will only protect a normal sized plate of food.
Silicon Food Cover
Silicon food covers seem to have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, I’ve seen Facebook video promotions of them and many people using them at outdoor events. I have to say I’ve bought a couple different variations and I’d not be happy to recommend them. I’ve only added silicon food covers to this article for completeness, so you know it’s available as an option. These food cover will only ever be any good for bowls where the food doesn’t protrude over the rim. If this is the type of food cover you want I can’t recommend a product, so here is one that gets good reviews from Amazon customers.
Bamboo Food Tent Basket
The beauty of a bamboo food cover is that the material is incredibly strong, in some countries it’s used as scaffolding in big construction projects. Therefore it can easily double as a piece of luggage to carry food around. The typical design of a bamboo food cover is to have a bamboo base with a bamboo-ribbed mesh cage over the top. These are stunning looking food covers at picnics as they bring an old school feel with them. Nantucket Home does a bamboo food cover that I think looks amazing.
This design brings with it some of the benefits of the food cover we ranked as the best, but at a slightly lower quality. The base of the food cover is typically weaved bamboo, which leaves plenty of room for small insects to get in, although it should stop bigger ones. And as the cover is a retractable mesh cage it also means any guest trying to get food doesn’t have one hand tied up with the lid. Again, this is a great idea, but there is a pay-off for having this style of cover working smoothly. And that pay-off is the dome is rather flimsy, and any heavy-handed guest could cause some damage.
Lace Food Cover
We’ve all see these types of food covers at our grandmas house, draped over a fruit bowl. Well surprisingly these lace food covers seem to be having a resurgence. Maybe it’s because it’s retro, I don’t know, but I’m seeing these a lot more often than usual. Again this isn’t a product I’d typically use so can’t recommend one, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t going to much different between each cover.