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Who doesn’t love a good cookout?? Cookout season is in full effect so today I’m going to provide you with a few tips on how to be a great host and a great guest.

from Pinterest

Host Tips

1. Prepare what you can in advance. Most sides can be made a day before. Having some items prepared in advance will allow you to just focus on the big things during the cookout, such as the meats and beverages. And one of the worst things you can do is have people waiting a long time for food which hasn’t been prepared.

2. Money-saving Tip: Pick up your local Sunday paper for coupons and deals for the week. Most stores have sales on cookout items. As well, go to the dollar store. Here you can pick up buns and eating utensils. (Trust me, no one is going to ask what brand of buns you have.)

3. It’s completely okay to have a potluck cookout, especially if it’s impromptu. Tell people to bring their “strength dish,” meaning the dish they are good at making. If you’ve never tried their potato salad, your cookout is not the day to start. For those who cooking is not their thing, have them bring chips, cups, napkins, etc.

4. If you’re short on cash, there are some easy and affordable dishes you can prepare. One is a salad. All you need is a lettuce mix, cucumbers, tomatoes and dressing. Another one is a pasta salad. Get some tri-colored pasta, cut up cucumbers and tomatoes, add some parmesan or cheddar cheese and top it off with italian dressing (either bottled or the packet where you add oil and water is best). Mix together and voila!

5. There are some little things you can do that can go a long way. One, pick up some bug spray. No one wants to be eaten up by pesky mosquitoes. And two, pick up some extra toilet paper. A well stocked bathroom (soap, toilet paper and hand towel) will avoid the awkward moment of someone asking for toilet paper or the person who needs you to hand it to them through the door. Just stock up.

Here are a few side dish recipes you may want to try at your next cookout.

Corn salad, caprese salad (tomatoes, basil and mozzerella) and fresh salsa from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

Looking to have more than burgers and hot dogs? Try some shish kabobs. You can have all meat skewers or add veggies or pineapple to them. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water 30 minutes before putting them on the grill. (It prevents them from burning quickly.)

Chicken kabobs (Pinterest) and Steak kabobs (Heart Healthy Online)

For Guests

1. Ask the host before you invite and/or bring a guest. If you’re thinking one additional person won’t hurt, I don’t doubt you were the only one to ask. Just be mindful of that and ask before you assume.

2. It’s okay to take the last of something at a cookout. But if there are two deviled eggs left and there are people behind you plating food, don’t be a jerk and take the last two.

3. Don’t show up empty handed. Perhaps this is the Southern gal in me, but I don’t like showing up places without something in hand. Pick up a pack of Coronas, bottle of wine, sodas, chips, something. If you are close with the host, ask them if there is anything you can bring or help with.

from Pinterest

4. If you are going to bring something to a cookout, don’t bring anything that you aren’t willing to share. (There are a few exceptions to the rule.) For example, don’t bring crabs for just you and your friends to eat. That’s rude. If y’all wanted to eat crabs, then the crab feast should have been at your house. Don’t bring them to a cookout when you don’t plan on sharing.

5. Have fun! There’s nothing worst than dry people and no laughter at a cookout. It’s summer. The weather is nice. Enjoy the moment.

Can you think of any cookout tips that I missed? Or do you have a favorite cookout dish you want to share? Let me know. I would love to hear them.

– G