How to Throw Your Best Cookout Yet

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:00 AM | Posted By: Mira Roberts
How to Throw Your Best Cookout Yet

Cookout season has arrived, and that means making the most of beautiful, sunny days and celebrating special occasions with your favorite foods outdoors! Whether you like to host cookouts with just a few friends or neighbors on a weekly basis, or gather loved ones for a graduation barbeque or birthday cookout, it’s time to start planning to make these your best cookouts yet!

Throwing a great cookout isn’t difficult if you think ahead and have a plan. A few weeks before you gather for your grill out, think about who you want to invite and how many people you’ll need to be prepared to feed. Consider what day of the week will be most accessible to your guests, and consider the long range forecast and any potential conflicts. Once you pick your date and guests, you can get down to planning for an epic cookout you won’t forget!

Here are a few tips to get you started…

Planning
Make sure to choose a date and time when most guests will be able to attend. Weekends tend to be easiest for most people, but consider travel plans and other events that may conflict with your date, and plan accordingly. Decide how many people you want to invite and plan to feed. Send out invitations and request an RSVP so that you can buy supplies accordingly. Plan to give yourself a good 2 weeks to get ready.

Prep Your Utensils
Go through your stash of kitchenware and cookout gear and make a list of everything you’ll need to cookout successfully. Items you may need are: plates, napkins, utensils, tablecloths, grill utensils and aluminum foil. Once you have the gear you need to execute, it’s time to start planning your menu.

Menu
The food is one of the most important parts of a good cookout, and it’s on you to choose a menu that is simple, easy for you to prepare and suitable for your crowd. Try to put together a varied menu, including fresh fruit and veggies, home cooked salads, chips and dips and items to be cooked on the grill. When it comes to your grilled items, choose wisely and consider your budget. Simple hamburgers, chicken breast and even veggie burgers can keep a crowd happy and satisfied (make sure to cook the veggie burgers first). If you’re feeling ready for a cookout challenge, you can consider grilling steak, kebabs, tofu or even portobello mushrooms.

Drinks, Desserts and Dietary Restrictions
Make a list of the beverages you want to serve at your cookout, including bottled water, sodas, juices and anything else your crowd may consume. While you’re at it, decide if you want to serve dessert or not. While some guests may enjoy a sweet treat, it isn’t necessary to serve dessert, and you can certainly throw an awesome cookout without it. Last, think about any dietary restrictions that you may need to accommodate. Are any of your guests gluten free or lactose intolerant? Make sure to plan for foods that are friendly for allergy sufferers and picky eaters, alike.

Grocery Shopping
Now that you have your menu, it’s time to shop. Plan to hit the grocery store with a friend or partner who can help you to carry and load your goods, especially if you plan to host a larger cookout. Once home, you may need to freeze some goods, or store them in your pantry. The day before the cookout, you’ll want to make sure to chill beverages appropriately and thaw anything frozen in time for next day grilling and cooking. Do NOT leave frozen meat or items on the counter to thaw, as this may make them susceptible to food-borne illnesses, and take proper precautions to ensure food safety at all times.

Clean the Grill/Prep the Food
On the day before your cookout, plan to clean your grilling space thoroughly. Next, begin prepping your food and side dishes. Many salads and dips can be made in advance to give you more free time on the day of your event. Organize your materials so that you can quickly set up and prep on the day of your cookout.

Set Up and Go
On the day of your event, gather friends and neighbors to help you set up decorations, lay out food, fill up tubs with ice for drinks and prep your food for grilling. Make sure that the grill is fired up and ready to go in time for you to begin using it for your cookout items, and plan to begin cooking as soon as guests arrive. You’ll want to have food ready to go from the beginning, and guests can nibble on salads and side dishes while you grill.

Eat Up
Now that your grilling is complete, plate up the grilled meats and food items and place them out for guests to eat! Make sure you have buns, condiments and other toppings available and next to your grilled goods to keep the process simple. Finally, serve yourself a helping of the delicious food you’ve prepared! It’s your best cookout yet, and you deserve to celebrate!

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About the Author

Mira Roberts studied writing at New York University, graduating with a BA in English Literature before pursuing a career in media, marketing and management with PARADE Magazine, Portfolio Magazine, AltDaily, skirt! and lululemon athletica. A full time mother, writing instructor and part-time freelance writer, Mira lives and laughs with her family in Norfolk, VA. 

 

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