Every summer, I like to bring out the red and white checked tablecloth, a bucket of cold drinks and start husking fresh corn on the cob! And when it’s time to hang out with family and friends and enjoy a backyard barbecue, having a plan helps me prepare and keep the party on track.
My plan includes keeping a few basics in my pantry and fridge as go-to family barbecue ingredients. And these are my favorites.
- I store ground meat in freezer bags. I use my handy postal scale to divide it into recipe sizes or individual portions.
- I prepare marinades in bulk and store them in freezer containers. Then I can pull them out at a moment’s notice.
- I always keep a variety of frozen veggies on hand, in case I haven’t got time to pick up fresh ones. I like to add the extra nutrients to summer fare like hot dogs and hamburgers.
- Hot dog and hamburger buns are a must-have in the Clark family freezer! They keep well in the freezer and thaw quickly.
- Lemons are a must-have all year. Lemon zest adds a flavorful kick to boxed cake or muffin mixes. And of course, the kids love fresh lemonade.
- Pound cake with berries seems like the all-American dessert! It’s so simple that your kids can help prepare it. You can keep both in your freezer, or use fresh berries in season.
- Adults are people too! So keep a bottle or two of your favorite wine on hand for guests on those warm summer nights.
Simple Tricks = Maximum Ease
I’ve got some tricks to make my life easier when I’m when planning for a barbecue and serving outdoors. It’s about maximum fun with minimal fuss!
- Empty the dishwasher before guests arrive to make room for dirty dishes.
- Serve buffet style so everything guests need is on the table. You’ll save trips to and from the kitchen.
- Bundle silverware inside cloth napkins and fasten with twine to keep utensils together.
- Use an empty dish tub to collect dishes, and a pretty basket where guests can toss their napkins.
- Don’t forget a recycling container nearby for cans and bottles.
- I like to use sturdy, reusable plastic dishware. Stock up for next year’s parties at end-of-summer clearance sales.
- When you’re finished grilling, remove grill grates from the cooled grill, place them in your oven and use your self-cleaning oven feature. Everything will be clean the next morning.
What To Do With Leftovers
Let’s face it: there will always be leftovers. Here are my ideas:
- Dice and add meats to tortilla wraps with salsa, cheese, fresh lettuce and tomatoes.
- Use leftover roasted veggies with dipping sauce as a side dish or snack. Or add them to an omelet.
- Use potato chips or leftover bread as a topping for a weekday casserole; just process in your food processor.
- Spread leftover hot dog buns with butter and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle with garlic powder and broil five minutes for instant homemade garlic bread.
What do you love about backyard barbecue? What’s your party plan for the summer?