Barbecue Checklist

It’s barbecue time and guess what? You are in charge in putting it together! They’re usually easy to pull off, but sometimes you forget things. For example, a lighter. No problem, somebody there at your barbecue will bail you out. What about cups? Or what if there aren’t enough chairs? 

It’s these kinds problems that tend to snowball and get you running all over the place. You can’t talk to your guests because you’re busy putting out fires (hopefully figurative speaking).

So how can you minimize these problems on the day of your barbecue? Well, it’s easy an answer and this method usually works for every other aspect of life. It’s checklists. They’re great. They’re even greater for working one task around your already busy schedule. They scientifically proven to relieve stress when it comes to dealing with a task that involves organization. Plus, they make it easy for you to delegate jobs. In this article, we’ll give a basic breakdown on what you need to do when planning for a barbecue.

Keep in mind, it’s best that you plan your get together at least a week ahead. But even if you decide to do one spontaneously one or two days before, this list will still come in handy. Who knows, you just might save the day if someone were to ask you for help.

First thing to do

Determine how big it’s going to be. Are your guests bringing their kids? How long is it going to last? For some, barbecues aren’t only about eating tasty meats, it’s about having a beer and then some. So, figure out who’re going to invite.

What are you going to serve?

This is where checklists come in handy. Write all the meats you’re going to be grilling, even the obvious ones. You might think rib-eye steaks are a given, but they can easily slip your mind when you’re at the grocery store. Make sure you got the right seasoning and condiments.


On the night before, make you get all your meats thawed. Sometimes they take longer than you expect. 

  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Sausage links
  • Bratwurst
  • Steaks
  • Chicken Breast
  • Shish kabab
  • Salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Shrimp
  • Pork Chops


Then, there are your sides. Those that are store-bought are just as important than the ones you throw on the grill. Some people like to have these prepared on the day of, or the night before.

  • Potatoes
  • Corn on the cob
  • Asparagus
  • Green onions
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Bag of chips
  • Cole slaw
  • Potato salad
  • Desserts
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Nacho cheese


Sometimes people forget to have something that is as basic as ketchup at barbecues. Again, you do not want a lot of things “falling through the cracks.” This list should help to keep that from happening.

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayo
  • Salsa
  • Ranch
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Horseradish
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Honey mustard
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Seasoning
  • Butter and sour cream


Then we have stuff that is in between. We’ll call them “fixings” even though they might overlap into other categories. This isn’t everything you will need, but it’s a good jumping-off point.

  • Hamburger buns
  • Hot dog buns
  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Limes or lemons
  • Tortillas
  • Relish
  • Jalapenos


Drinks are important too. This list will go over alcohol beverages as well kids’ drinks. Try to have one tub for non-alcohol drinks and make it so no one can miss it. As for the beer cooler, you should have it separate from the children. 

  • Soda
  • Lemonade
  • Juice
  • Tea
  • Beer
  • Wine 
  • Liquor


For cooking, will the grill you currently have be enough to prepare the amount of food you want to serve? Consider that and the number of guests who will be attending. As for other items, you want to have enough for everybody at your barbecue. Also, have one space for raw meats to avoid contamination. It’s okay if you miss one item and you call one of your guest to bail you out, but let’s try to keep it down no more than one. Here’s a list of other items, or better yet, essentials.

  • Paper plates
  • Cups
  • Napkins
  • Ice
  • Lighter
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Tools like spatula and knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Oil
  • Apron
  • Gloves

Barbecue equipment

We also have our outdoor equipment to consider. You basically want things outside and available. You don’t want your guest to have go inside your house or take off somewhere. The more of these you have, the more you can count on your barbecue going off without a hitch. Tables and chairs shouldn’t take long to put together. You can easily delegate that to somebody.

  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Decorations
  • Bug spray
  • Tiki torches
  • Canopy
  • Designated area for trash
  • Sunscreen
  • Lighting
  • Cooler
  • Ice tubs
  • Wipes
  • Sanitizer

This list isn’t exhaustive but you can now approach this task with more clarity. When you have a checklist, you can easily focus on the things you need to do and get as the day gets closer. You’ll be prepared and then you can make changes in case something comes up. You can be sure that people will enjoy themselves and the meats you grill.

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