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Suns Out, Buns Out: Grilling Season is Back!

By David

March 21, 2024

For most backyard barbecue lovers, grilling season starts once the weather gets warm and stays warm (March or April for most of our readers). But if you want it badly enough, any season can be grilling season. 

Fetch is your ultimate grocery app: make your grocery list in the app, snap receipts to earn points, turn the points into gift cards, save on the next grocery trip and repeat. We’re also your experts on everything grilling season, from the best type of grill to grilling safety to a shopping checklist.

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The Best Type of Grill: Gas vs. Charcoal

It’s grilling season, and we want you to have the best type of grill for your backyard barbecue. Here’s what you need to know about gas and charcoal, so you can choose the best type of grill for you.

  • Charcoal: Charcoal grilling calls back to hundreds of thousands of years of outdoor grilling with fire. You trade some control for affordability (charcoal grills can start at $30), and it takes longer to heat up, but you get a taste unique to grilling.
  • Gas: The other most common type of grill, a gas grill is ready to go just a bit after you turn the dial and hear it light. If it gets too hot, you can just turn down the dial, and clean-up is easier too. You won’t have the taste of charcoal, though, and gas grills start at a higher price point (usually $100 or more, plus your propane tank).
  • Electric: The George Foreman countertop style grills count, but typically an electric grill is going to look like a standing gas or charcoal grill that plugs into an outlet. They can be a great alternative, especially if you live in an apartment where you can’t have gas/charcoal grills. They can start at around $50, but you lose a lot of the charm of grilling.
  • Pellet: Instead of charcoal, pellet grills use food-grade wood pellets and are often multi-use cookers, as they make it easy to smoke your favorite meats. Pellet grills are more expensive than the others, but they also do quite a bit more. If grilling season is an event for you, a pellet grill might be in the cards.

If you’ve got the budget for it, an infrared grill could be a fun tool, hitting 700˚F fast. They also tend to cost $1,500 or more and might be more suited to a pro griller than your backyard barbecue.

Safety Tips for Grilling Season

In addition to your normal food preparation safety tips, outdoor grilling season brings with it some additional things to keep in mind. 

Ready Your Grill 

  • Know what kind of brush to use to clean your grill, and ensure you look it over before putting meat on to avoid getting metal shavings in your food.
  • Clean or purchase grilling utensils, especially if you discover rust on the trusty tongs or sturdy spatula you used last grilling season.
  • Check your cutting boards. Any that are deeply scored could hold bacteria even after a good scrub. It’s better to be cautious and replace one than to get sick. 

Outdoor Grilling Food Prep

  • Make smart decisions around defrosting, don’t just let your meat sit on the countertop.
  • Use different utensils and cutting boards for raw meat. We recommend moving them to the dishwasher immediately after you’re done with them just to be safe.
  • Wash and dry any surfaces your food will be on.

Safe Outdoor Grilling

  • Keep your grill a foot or more away from anything, especially your house. Consider keeping it further from vinyl siding or any plastic materials you have outdoors.
  • Have a meat thermometer ready, and know your safety temps (fish and pork at the low end at 145° F, chicken at the high end at 165° F, and hamburger patties in the middle at 160° F).
  • Turn your grill off when you’re done, and be sure to be present whenever it’s on, even if you’re just “warming up.” 
  • Let the leftovers cool. Your backyard barbecue is going to have some leftovers, and you should let them cool down before sliding them into the fridge.

Essential Grilling Utensils

You know to check your grilling utensils to kick off barbecue season, but what are the essential grilling utensils you should have at your side when you grill?

  • Metal Tongs
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Metal Spatula
  • Grill Lights
  • Grill Brush
  • Chimney Starter (for quicker charcoal grill starting)
  • Grilling Gloves
  • Basting Brushes

Don’t forget that anything cast iron can do double duty on your stovetop and your grill.

Backyard BBQ Shopping Checklist

You’ve got the backyard barbecue planned.You’ve decided on the best type of grill (for this grilling season, at least). You’ve made it to the meat counter at the grocery store, and your mind’s blank. You can probably trust that burgers were on the menu, but what else? We’ve got the essential BBQ shopping list so you’ll have all the grilling essentials for your cookout:

  • Ground beef for burgers
  • Sliced cheese (try more than one)
  • Hot dogs and bratwurst
  • Buns
  • Tomatoes and onions for topping
  • Veggie tray with dip
  • Plain and BBQ chips
  • Marinades and spice mixes

Ground beef is a smart move if you’re looking to save on your grocery bills, but if the next backyard BBQ is a celebration, ribs, pork chops or steak should be on your BBQ shopping list, too. Make the list in the Fetch app so you always have it on you, and then remember to snap your receipt after you’re done at the store.

Printable Backyard BBQ Grocery Shopping List

Backyard BBQ shopping checklist

Vegan Grilling Essentials: Beyond Meat

We know grilling season is typically for the carnivores and the omnivores, but most of us have vegans and vegetarians in our lives. Don’t leave them out this BBQ season: add Beyond Meat a part of your BBQ shopping list. Keep it on hand so you’ll always have something for the herbivore in your life… and maybe toss a Beyond Burger onto the grill for yourself and see why so many people are making Meatless Monday a weekly event.

Text reading, "Turn your groceries into gift cards -- get the app"

Fill the Fridge and Freezer for Outdoor Grilling Season

You can plan for grilling season in one fell swoop if you like to buy in bulk; just load up that freezer and plan your defrosts safely. Whether you’re filling the freezer or grabbing the goods for this weekend’s backyard barbecue, don’t forget to make your list in the Fetch app and then snap your receipt after shopping to bank those points. 

Topics: Food and Drink, Shopping Lists



David Fairbanks is a writer, science educator and Chicagoan fueled by coffee. He's written about everything from Ferraris to handcrafted pet urns to Superman, and he genuinely loves loyalty/rewards programs.