How to Plan the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue

Backyard BarbecueWith Memorial Day weekend kicking off a summer full of exciting backyard parties, now’s the best time to sharpen your barbecue-planning skills to perfection! We’ve got everything you need to host a successful outdoor bash, from prep to cleanup!

A Week-By-Week Guide to Prepping for Your Barbecue

Throwing the perfect barbecue party means kicking things into gear early. Don’t wait till the last minute! To make sure everything runs smoothly, use this handy schedule to keep your plans on track:

Two Weeks Before the Barbecue

  • Make a guest list. Send out invitations or call your guests to tell them about your party.
  • Create a shopping list. Based on how many guests you’ll have, start planning your menu and make a list of all the ingredients and non-food supplies you’ll need for the barbecue. If you want your guests to help out by bringing salad, appetizers or dessert to the barbecue, call them up and ask them to contribute to the potluck.
  • Test your grill. Take your BBQ for a test drive and make sure it’s clean and in ship-shape well before the party. Make sure it has enough propane or charcoal.
  • Order rentals. If you need to rent any outdoor equipment like tents, chairs, tables, etc., start making those arrangements now.

A Few Days Before the Barbecue

  • Go shopping. Buy all the nonperishable food and drinks on your menu, as well as utensils and decorations.
  • Get a head start. Start preparing any foods and desserts that can be made and stored ahead of time.
  • Take a head count. Call all of your guests to confirm who’s coming and what food items they’re bringing.
  • Start decorating. If possible, set up your tables, chairs and decorations. Make sure the seating is in a shady, comfortable area in the yard. Place a couple of big garbage bins in easy-to-access spots.

The Day Before the Barbecue

  • Do some last-minute shopping. Get a sufficient supply of ice, condiments, meats and other perishable foods.
  • Prep the meat. Marinate your meats the night before the party to make sure they’re extra-tasty when you grill them. Store them in the fridge.
  • Make last-minute dishes. Prepare and store all the perishable foods you’ll be serving at the party.

The Day of the Barbecue

  • Finish decorating. Make the final adjustments to your décor and seating arrangements. Organize cups, plates, utensils, salads, side dishes, condiments, etc., on a buffet-style table. Make sure any food items are covered to protect them from heat and bugs!
  • Set up the drinks station. Fill your cooler with ice and stock it with plenty of drinks so they’re nice and cold by the time your guests arrive. Remember to frequently replenish the ice supply throughout the day.
  • Prepare fresh appetizers. Cut and prep fresh fruits and veggies and keep them in the fridge until guests arrive.
  • Fire up the grill. Set up your grill and start cookin’! Keep an eye on the meats and ensure they’re being grilled at the proper grilling temperatures.
  • Enjoy! Spend the day having fun with your family and friends!

After the Barbecue

  • Put away the leftovers. Wrap up any leftover perishable food right away and store them in the fridge. (That includes meats, salad, cheeses and spreads.) If there’s enough to go around, give some leftovers to your guests to take home.
  • Clean up. Throw away the trash and clean and disinfect tables and chairs. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your grill too.
  • Stock up for your next BBQ bash. Hang on to any unused utensils and save them for your next fabulous backyard barbecue.

The Essential Barbecue Checklist

Too busy to write up a shopping list? Don’t sweat it. We already created one for you, complete with all the BBQ basics. Just print it out and get ready to start grilling! Download our printable BBQ Checklist before you head to the store! Here’s what you’ll need:

download our bbq checlist_ Meats

_ Appetizers and side dishes

_ Condiments

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Steak sauce

_ Garnishes

  • Lettuce
  • Tomato slices
  • Onions
  • Pickles
  • Cheese slices
  • Chili

_ Buns, rolls and wraps

_ Dessert

_ Drinks

  • Water
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Cocktails

_ Cooler, ice buckets and ice

_ Outdoor decorations

_ Coal or propane

_ Grilling tools

_ Napkins and paper towels

_ Disposable plates, tablecloths and utensils

  • Forks
  • Knives
  • Spoons
  • Cups

_ Aluminum foil and plastic wrap

_ Trash bins and garbage bags

_ Separate platters for raw and grilled meats

_ Storage containers for leftovers

Will you be hosting a backyard barbecue this summer? Tell us how you plan on making it extra-awesome for your friends and family!

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Categories: Prep & Cooking Instructions


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  1. How to Have the Ultimate Labor Day Cookout | STOCK YARDS - August 21, 2014

    […] and prepare all of the props and supplies you need beforehand. As for the groceries, check out our printable BBQ shopping list for an extensive list you can bring along to the […]

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