Those award-winning barbecue chefs have it all under control. They’ve got massive amount of meat cooking on multiple grills. Marinades, glazes, sauces and side dishes are all in the works at the same time. Meanwhile at home, we’re just hoping we don’t burn the burgers we’re cooking for our friends.
As a professional organizer, I see the big difference between the pros and us home chefs: organization. They’ve always got what they need where they need it. Fortunately for us, this part of cooking is easy to replicate. Although you might not be a seasoned chef, you can take these grilling organizing tips and have success like one.
Error: Missing Ingredient
The Fix: Mise en Place
The company’s pulling up and it’s time to put stuff on the grill or maybe you’re just plain starving. Either way, it is a terrible time to realize you are missing a key ingredient and must run to the store. Solve this issue with “mise en place,” which is a French term for preparing food and equipment before beginning cooking. Pull out everything you need in advance to make sure you have it all at the ready.
Error: The No Fuel Crisis
The Fix: Double Up
Realizing you’re out of fuel just when you’re ready to throw on the steaks is a real bummer. Prevent this from happening by always having two full propane tanks or two bags of charcoal. When you turn to your back-up fuel, add a stop at the store to your to-do list.
Error: Running Out of Fuel
The Fix: Gauge It
Heading out to the grill to pull off the pork tenderloin only to discover it is half-cooked and barely warm is just an outrage. Always check the amount of fuel before cooking. Jiggling the propane tank to guess the amount of fuel in there isn’t effective when you can easily add a gauge for just a few dollars. Most models are extremely easy to use—they’re just a magnet that sticks to the tank.
Error: Can’t Light the Charcoal Fire
The Fix: Buckets with Lids
A half-pint of lighter fluid is not exactly a tasty addition to your carefully marinated chicken breasts. Avoid turning to it as a last resort when you can’t get your charcoal fire started. The most likely culprit is that charcoal is damp—after all, it can be quite humid in the summer. Get some large buckets with snap-on lids to keep your charcoal dry. A small scoop is a handy addition for transferring charcoal to the grill.
Error: Have Meat, But No Flavor
The Fix: Put Like Items Together
The chops and grilled zucchini are craving some flavor. Make it easy to prep your food without forgetting anything by storing all your grilling flavors together. Use a small basket to hold sauces, marinades and rubs. While you are at it, grab two baskets–one for the fridge and one for the pantry.
Error: From Overdone to Burnt
The Fix: Track the Time
Give up on using your head as a timer, as turning over the food “in a few minutes” isn’t exactly precise. Instead, use a timer that stays on your person so you’re always aware of it. Either use your phone or get a small, portable timer to clip on your clothes.
Error: Using Ordinary Kitchen Tools
The Fix: Organize Grill Tools
There’s a good reason that grill tools have long handles—safety! Reaching across the flames with a kitchen fork isn’t a good idea. Those long-handled grill tools can be a bit difficult to store since they don’t fit in kitchen drawers with your regular tools. Try some of these solutions:
- Place them on S-hooks and hang them on the side of the grill
- Hang them on pegboard the garage
- Stash them in the drawer under the stove
- Store them on removable adhesive hooks inside the pantry or closet door
Error: Not Keeping an Eye on the Grill
The Fix: Cart Your Stuff
It’s not so much that you’re distracted, but you’re busy running in for a clean platter, hunting for tongs, searching for the barbeque sauce and so on. Grab a rolling kitchen cart, stock it with everything you need at the grill and roll it out when you cook.
Error: Guessing in the Dark
The Fix: Light It Up
Grilling for the evening meal can mean cooking as night falls. Make it easy to keep an eye on your meal by adding plenty of light. Move your grill where you can take advantage of an exterior light, add a light to your grill or even use a headlamp as you cook.
Error: It’s Either Raw or Volcanic Ash
The Fix: Hang It Up
It would be pretty hard to keep all those different grill times and temperatures memorized. Make it easy to know if your meat is done by hanging a chart of various cooking times with your grilling tools. Create your own or find one online and print it out.
You don’t have to be a master chef to get organized. However, getting organized will help you cook like one.
Lea Schneider is a pro organizer who loves to cook and writes about it for The Home Depot. Lea provides tips on how to use unique cooking techniques for different types of grills. She also provides advice for organizing your food and cooking tools to be able to cook like a chef. Check out The Home Depot website for a selection of grills with new features.
This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request, and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.