If you’re like me, you fire up your barbecue grill and your smoker all year round.

For many, however, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to grilling season and the summertime ritual of outdoor cooking fun.

5 Things to Consider When Prepping for Your First Grilling Weekend of the Year

#1 – If this weekend is in fact the first time you’ve put your grill or smoker to work in quite a while, you should begin by giving things a good cleaning. Take the grates and cooking surfaces out and give them a good hosing off, scrubbing if necessary. I’ve found that this all-natural cleaner made by Traeger is amazing. It had great reviews online and I purchase mine at Ace Hardware locally, as I’ve found they have a really nice bbq and grilling section. My wife discovered how well this cleans and she uses it to clean all kinds of surfaces including our outdoor tables and counters.

Brian Stephenson
Brian Stephenson

How Much Meat and Eats Will You Need?

#2 – If You’re Hosting Family and Friends, be sure you plan out how much of everything you’ll need to feed your guests. You might consider grilling a variety of meat selections. I often will have something on the smoker hours before everyone arrives, and then time things out to grill something else. Perhaps pork shoulder on the smoker for pulled pork sandwiches, and perhaps chicken or salmon or burgers on the grill for a little variety and to satisfy various tastes. Don’t forget side dishes. Simple choices are often the most popular and easiest to produce. A giant batch of potato salad, fresh fruits and vegetables, and veggies roasted on the grill can be delicious.

Keep it Simple and Don't Load Up Your Dishwasher

#3 – Unless you and your guests expect something fancy, I suggest making things as simple as possible. A nice big stack of disposable plates and utensils is a good start. For those who are environmentally conscientious, there are many great choices available that are not only made from recycled materials but can be recycled as well. The best part, clean-up is much easier and you’ll spend less time washing, scrubbing, and working and more time enjoying yourself. This is also, of course, a very kid-friendly option with no concerns for broken glasses and plates.

Preparation is Key to a Successful Backyard BBQ Feast

#4 – We talked about prepping your grill, but food prep is also important. Many things can be prepared a day before so cooking and serving are easier when the crowd arrives. Potato salad, for instance, is much tastier after spending a night in the fridge. Meat can be rubbed and marinated and ready to roll the next day. If you have attendees who would like to bring items, be sure to keep a list of items so you don’t wind up with 6 bags of tortilla chips and no salsa.

Let Your Guests Take Home the Mess

#5 – Have plenty of to-go containers on hand. You know how it goes, lots of food will be leftover. Then the dreaded search for lids for your 10-year-old Tupperware begins. Aside from the fact you may never get that bowl back, it’s a great idea to have a couple of packs of disposable containers on hand. Grab them right there in the plastic wrap aisle.

Enjoy your time with family and friends this weekend. Remember, temperature trumps time when it comes to cooking meat. Know your safe temperature and trust your thermometer. Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to grill the perfect burger. Check out the video below.

KEEP READING: Here are 6 foods from your cookout that could harm your dog

LOOK: Best Beers From Every State

To find the best beer in each state and Washington D.C., Stacker analyzed January 2020 data from BeerAdvocate, a website that gathers user scores for beer in real-time. BeerAdvocate makes its determinations by compiling consumer ratings for all 50 states and Washington D.C. and applying a weighted rank to each. The weighted rank pulls the beer toward the list's average based on the number of ratings it has and aims to allow lesser-known beers to increase in rank. Only beers with at least 10 rankings to be considered; we took it a step further to only include beers with at least 100 user rankings in our gallery. Keep reading to find out what the best beer is in each of the 50 states and Washington D.C.

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