Nothing says summer like planning a get-together with friends and family. The smell of food sizzling on the grill and a picnic table full of all your favorite fixings make winter a distant memory.
Whether you decide to go with a potluck style BBQ or invoke your inner Bobby Flay grill master and wow guests with your cooking prowess, there’s a lot of planning that goes into pulling off the perfect summer BBQ. These suggestions can add some flare to your BBQ and help prevent unwanted mishaps:
1. Grill Maintenance
To ensure your upcoming BBQ goes off without a hitch, proper grill maintenance and storage is important. Be sure to clean your grill, ridding it of food scraps and grease, and store it away from moisture to avoid rust. Using a coat of cooking oil is a simple trick to repel water damage. You can even use plastic wrap to discourage insects like spiders and bees from infesting your grill by covering any gaps or openings and securing the lid.
Familiarize yourself with your model and the basic upkeep suggested in the owner’s manual. If you have a propane grill, always make sure the propane is turned off when not in use. Store the tank in an outdoor area away from where children or animals may find it, as well as away from any open vents and your home. It’s also a good idea to put a plastic bag around the gas line to prevent obstructions and unwanted nesting. If you have to store your grill indoors, make sure you disconnect the propane tank first.
2. Meal Planning and Preparation
Once you have an idea who’s coming and how much food you’ll need, the next step is planning the main attraction: the menu. Tailor your recipes to your guests so you know whether to keep it simple with burgers and hot dogs, provide vegetarian options or show off your gourmet chops.
If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, consider using wood chips to add extra flavor to your meat and veggies. Grilling with wood is a simple trick to wow your guests and their taste buds.
Using a marinade can infuse flavor into your meal and will help your meat stay moist. Experiment with different flavor profiles. Try spicing things up with a zesty BBQ marinade and surprise your friends with your creativity.
No BBQ is complete without an array of sides so offer a variety of side dishes to go along with your beautifully marinated meat and grilled vegetables. If you want to prepare something fancier than potato chips and traditional macaroni salad recipes, check out some of these eccentric ideas that are sure to impress.
Remember to pick up beverages and other items ahead of time.
3. Plan Activities for the Kids
Grown-ups can find plenty to do at a BBQ, but what about the kids? Keep the little ones entertained by setting up games like red light, green light and duck-duck-goose to keep them occupied while you’re cooking. Try something different and organize a group marshmallow war. It’s relatively simple to set up, just make sure to stay out of the crossfire.
Lawn games are always a popular favorite at BBQs. Throw up a net for some badminton or volleyball, or teach the kids how to play ultimate Frisbee. Organize a game of tag using clothes pins, writing different tasks on each one like “Sing a Silly Rhyme,” “Do Ten Jumping Jacks” and “Oink like a Pig.” You can’t go wrong with a game of catch, but make things interesting for the group and try a new set of rules for your multi-player ball game. And make sure the kids stay far away away from the grill to prevent accidents.
Safety is a priority and fire danger is high during the summer months. Follow these simple tips to minimize the danger of a grill fire:
- Charcoal grill: Avoid using accelerants like lighter fluid. The majority of serious burns occur because of accelerants. Never dump lighter fluid on lit coals or on an electric grill.
- Propane grill: Secure the propane connection and double check that there are no blockages or leaks.
- Never leave the grill unattended and keep kids and pets away from it.
- Don’t wear loose clothing.
- Use long grilling utensils to avoid getting too close.
- Situate your grill in an open area away from flammable materials.
- Do not grill indoors.
- Remember, the ash from coals can take up to 72 hours to fully cool. Pour water over the coals when you’re done and dispose of the ash once it’s cooled.
- Learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher and keep one handy.
Call 911 immediately if a fire breaks out. Then contact your insurance provider to report the incident and do not tamper with the damaged items. Enjoy the summer and soak it up the while you can. Planning a BBQ can be hard work, but the reward is a great time with your family and friends.