May is National Barbecue Month. A time for friends and family to get outside in the backyard and enjoy the beautiful weather we have! It’s no secret that grilling is the ticket to an easy, delicious meal and a healthier lifestyle. Outdoor cooking encourages us to make smarter food choices such as eating fresh rather than frozen foods Outdoor cooking remains more popular than ever, with 70% of Americans revealing that they prefer cooking out over eating out to save money, according to new national poll released today by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).
National BBQ month is the perfect time to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. How about a Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Planked Salmon? Hamburgers and hotdogs are classic grill fare, but have fun with a wide selection of meats including different cuts of beef, chicken, pork and seafood.
2. Pick Your Veggies
Colorful vegetable kabobs bursting with flavor are the essence of summer. Some of the best vegetables for grilling include tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions, potatoes, asparagus and—of course—corn on the cob. Grilling is a surefire way for the whole family to get their proper intake of vegetables. Perfectly caramelized and wrapped in smoky goodness, they are hard to resist.
3. Select Your Side Items
What is a BBQ without creamy coleslaw, smoky baked beans and fresh salads? Perhaps you prefer macaroni and cheese, a pasta salad or collared greens with a kick. Or step it up a notch with tomato and watercress salad, toasted Israeli couscous or barbecued deviled eggs. Explore new condiments, and dipping sauces.
4. Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment
Gas or charcoal grilling: It’s the grate debate. The most popularly priced gas grills are $129 to $299, while grills with more features will run between $800 and $1,500 and well beyond. Charcoal you can get something on the low end for about $25. A basic Weber kettle is around $150, while more deluxe models are upward of $600.
5. Upkeep / Maintenance
Gas You’ll have to check the gas connections and lines, replace the flavor briquettes, and refill the propane tanks as needed. You may also have to replace the ignition or grates now and then, and keep the burners, ignitor collector box, and drip tray clean. If you cover your grill when not in use, you can minimize upkeep.
Charcoal The grill grates should be replaced annually, or every other year, depending on wear and tear. There aren’t a lot of other parts to maintain unless you opt for a model with a gas ignition.
6. Grill Good Food
What’s on top of your grate is just as important as what’s underneath it. Try to use seasonal, local, and organic produce and meats. With all the local farmers markets starting to open up for the season, it’s easy to pick up local food.