The Not-So Starving Student

Seven Essential Items for Hosting the Perfect Barbecue

When it comes to barbecue season, Canadians only have about four months of the year to truly enjoy feasting in the lush green carpet of our backyard.  For students, hosting barbecues can be a fantastic way to entertain family and friends.  Backyard barbecues don’t have to be a big fuss when you plan ahead and have a pre-set menu in mind.  Being a beginner, I didn’t have many items planned but, thankfully, they turned out to be favourites among my guests.  To plan a successful barbecue for your friends and family, there are certain must-haves.  Regardless of whether you want to your barbecue to go the extra mile or just host a simple but classic family barbecue, you’ll need these essentials. 
  1. Grill: Whether you are using an indoor cast iron grill (like me) or an outdoor charcoal barbecue, you need to pick your equipment wisely.  Invest in something you will use more than once.  This may be different for everyone.  For example, while my extended family likes camping trips that demand portable grills like a small-sized propane barbecue, my immediate family likes hosting larger family barbecues in our backyard which might necessitate a full-sized patio barbecue.  Do plenty of research on whether a propane or charcoal grill is a better fit for you.  For example, the flavour of charcoal grills is a distinct flavour—typical of southern barbecues.
  2. Marinade: Anyone who enjoys meal prep can appreciate the effect of marinades on just about any raw ingredients.  While some enjoy purchasing pre-made marinade, I like to get creative by mixing my own marinade and occasionally adding pre-made marinades.  Some examples of the latter include teriyaki sauce, maple barbecue sauce, bulgogi marinade, and the list goes on.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and observe which marinade gets you the most compliments.
  3. Silicone brush: Some might argue that raw protein naturally soaks up the marinade in a bowl and there’s no need to coat additional layers of sauce.  However, if you’re a seasoned barbecue master (pun-intended), you would be aware that sometimes second and even third layerings of sauce is required, since much of the marinade evaporates in the grill.  Hence, the silicone brush comes in handy when you need a second or third layer of sauce during the grilling process.
  4. Condiments: Classic condiments that no outdoor barbecue event should be without include ketchup and mustard.  If you’re going the extra mile for your guests, try some guacamole, spicy mayo, sriracha, or ranch.
  5. Tongs: No matter which grill you’re using, a good quality set of tongs will last you a long time.  Even if you’re cooking Saturday night dinner, a pair of tongs will come in handy in so many cooking scenarios.  Invest in a pair of tongs with a silicone coating so that if you’re using it indoors it doesn’t scratch your beloved pans.
  6. Protein: The protein makes up the central pillar of your barbecue.  My general rule is to use at least three different types of proteins, so guests can pick and choose or mix and match.  However, for the simple barbecue, some beef patties and sausages are a must.  But remember if you’re serving these, adding the hot dog or burger buns that also come hand in hand with the protein.  To spice up your barbecue game, some try adding more creative items.  Some that I’ve seen at barbecues include fish, shrimp, calamari and lamb.
  7. Dessert: No barbecue is complete without some dessert to give some closure to your event.  For me, the classic watermelon is a must, but I have also witnessed a variety of ice creams, chilled brownie bars, and Jello to cool the guests down.