Your Summer Barbecue Meal Planner!

Barbecue collage

You will have to forgive my triple-A-type personality, and possibly hold back some laughter. Because I totally made you a Summer Barbecue Menu Matrix. Whaaaaaaaat? I know—so weird.

But before y’all go taunting me on Twitter and stuff, let me explain.

Summer barbecues are my fave. The best way to entertain friends and family, in my experience, because even if the food is just ok, you are sitting out in the sun or under the stars with your feet in the grass and a drink in your hand. And what could be better than that?

With lots of summer barbecues on our immediate horizon, I wanted to be prepared with some interesting menu ideas, lest I fall into the steak/baked potato/salad rut. And hey let me be clear, there is nothing wrong at all with steak, baked potatoes and salad. I happen to love all three on their own and in combination with one another, and if you invite me over for steak, baked potatoes and salad, I will be ecstatic and thankful beyond measure. But you see, I have a food blog, and when people come over for summer barbecues at my place, I feel a decent amount of pressure to…um…perform.

As it happens I also have two young kids, and a major thing for lengthy weekend naps, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for hemming and hawing over the weekend’s menu, or for prepping overly complex meals.

Barbecue Dinner

Enter “the matrix”. (I would make some sort of Keanu/Matrix reference here, except that I don’t think I’ve ever managed to get through it—or any of its successors—without dozing off at some point. I know, I know…).

The Summer Barbecue Menu Matrix (or SBMM, to friends) is really just a list of seasonally-appropriate dishes grouped into four categories: appies/snacks, mains, sides/salads and desserts. When I am planning a summer meal, I simply choose one item from each of the appies, mains and desserts category, and two from the sides category, and voila—my meal planning is complete! It’s not quite rocket science, but it has eliminated the hours that I might otherwise spend scanning food blogs and scouring cookbooks.

Barbecue Dinner

A few points of explanation for those who plan to use the SBMM (and I encourage you to do so!!): First, most of the items in the SBMM come with a linked recipe, but not all. Some are just basic things that don’t require a recipe (e.g. bread and butter), and some are things for which the “recipe” is just in my head (in which case I’ve provided it to you in short-hand). Second, I have made about 98% of the recipes listed in the SBMM, and can vouch for their fabulousness. The remaining 2% is made up of recipes I’ve been meaning to try. That being said, I think I have a decent eye for recipes that work (if I do say so myself) and a certain amount of trust in the source from which these recipes come. So I say it’s safe to try them. Even for a dinner party.

I would LOVE to hear about your tried, tested and true summer party recipes, including awesome drinks (which are notably absent from my list!), so that I can expand the matrix. Add your recipe/link in the comments below this post.

And now, without further ado—the Summer Barbecue Meal Matrix:

Appetizers and Snacks

Mains

 Sides

Desserts

*This recipe is adapted from the Early Summer 2014 edition of the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine.

4 Responses to Your Summer Barbecue Meal Planner!

  1. Afshan June 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Your timing on this post is impeccable. I will be using more than one or two (or five) of these recipes in the coming weeks. And my husband will be thrilled that you posted the roasted tomato recipe.

  2. Jan @ Family Bites June 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    This is super smart and similar to how I plan my summer entertaining meals.

  3. Michelle June 5, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    I’ll be referring to this more than once this season, I’m sure… ;)

    This is one of my faves:

    http://www.theppk.com/2011/05/creamy-avocado-potato-salad/

  4. Eva June 5, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Yes! Super helpful. :-)

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