Cooking Basics

Organizing your grill cooking space

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Grill cooking space tips for better food and less hassle kitchen to table

Few forms of cooking are as closely associated with relaxation and socializing as grilling. Maybe this is why so many Saturday grill masters find themselves bouncing from back and forth to the kitchen – organizing the ingredients, utensils and other needed tools sounds suspiciously like work. Not so fast.

The grill cooking space is sacred ground for those who like their ribs tender and pork falling from the bone. But with friends pouring the first round of sangria and your sweetheart putting on your favorite song, its way too easy to overcook the burgers, especially if you have no clue where that spatula went off to. Hopefully the seasoning is just right, but it’s hard to keep track of what’s salted and what’s not when the area is cluttered.

The grill and BBQ accessories are your domain. Organize it so that cooking will be the blast it should be. Besides, when everything you need to make a memorable outdoor meal is within quick reach, the food will taste better. 

Where to begin?

This brand of organization is equal parts planning ahead and space prepping. Get your gourmet steaks marinating, sauces mixed, burgers packed and veggies skewered before firing up. Then bring everything out in one or two trips.

There’s nothing like stepping out on the patio with a fresh batch of burgers only to step in last night’s congealed ketchup. Clean the cooking surface and work area before bringing out grill cooking space supplies. This will help keep the flies away. In fact, try to keep condiments near the eating instead of the cooking area so pests don’t become a problem.

Discover the magic of baskets, if you haven’t already. When temperatures are high and barbecuing is an almost nightly activity, may as well keep the rubs, marinade fixings and other sauces in the same basket. When it’s time to get started, bring out the whole basket and set it near the food prep surface.

Give every tool its place. The old term “ship shape” refers to making the most of tight spaces by giving every item a specific place. In ship cabins, this prevents massive piles that can topple at the first big wave. On the patio, it means those handy, but super long tongs have a hook. When not physically in your hand, these tools need to be in their place.

If your setup doesn’t already have a logical place for every tool you use, consider investing in a small chopping block on wheels complete with hooks and bottom rack. Pegboards with hooks also work great as long as there’s a convenient place to mount or lean it.

Some items belong by the grill – a fire extinguisher, cleaning brush and meat thermometer for instance. Give these safety items a permanent home on a shelf near the grill cooking space so they’re not in the way, but are accessible if needed. Make sure anyone who may use the space knows where to find them.

Barbecue lovers would make quick use of a second set of arms, especially when all the food finishes at the same moment and there’s no one to hold the tray. Keep a sturdy foldout table nearby for setting the food on when it’s hot, hot, hot off the off the grill. Better yet, the Mens Health BBQ Workshop recommends getting a grill with attached counter space to maximize your work space.

Double up on foil-wrapped baking sheets or platters so you never accidentally put cooked meat on the same surface raw meat was on. Once the raw goods are on the fire, set the used trays on a bottom shelf reserved for dirty dishes.

Organization may sound like work, but in truth it’s a simple way to make the grilling season more enjoyable. Cheers to no more scrambling for the BBQ sauce while the chicken burns.

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