I’m not an expert, and your results may vary, but here’s what I’ve learned.
Single Day Events without Fires
(e.g. Battle Road, parades, Fort Lee)
For single-day, warm-weather events, ice packs covered in cloths at the bottom of a basket or slipped into a market wallet can keep food cold.
Pasties are self-contained, period appropriate, and require no “hardware” to eat. I wrap them in parchment or plain white paper and tie them with string, or wrap them individually in plain white cloths. Because the filling is cooked and then baked in the pastry, they keep and travel very well. I have a basic receipt here for pork pies; they’re good with chicken, too. Keep the filling a little on the dry side, and you won’t need a plate. I’ve never made an all-vegetable pasty, because I live with T-Rex in a hoodie, but I imagine it would be delicious with parsnips, squash, and maybe even kale.
Another single-day-event solution is bread and cheese. John Buss of the 10th Massachusetts was all about cheese. He writes home longing for cheese, and writes, too, that he can eat cheese again because he’s recovered from the small pox. (That’s one of those historic statements that I try not to imagine too much about.) I’ve never had the time to bake bread from the Amelia Simmons’ cookbook, but I’ve had bread made from it, and it’s great. Pressed for time? Worked later than you thought you’d have to? Whole Foods Take-and-Bake baguettes have played the role of home-made bread, as have various loaves from other grocery stores.
The Hive blog has some good recommendations to fill your basket, so with some repackaging and artful packing, you can assemble an 18th century pick-a-nick basket, or stuff a market wallet with suitable foods. Just please, please: peel stickers off the fruit, and don’t pack bananas, which aren’t seen in the U.S. much before 1880.