Barbecue Pantry #1: Just Getting Started on The Barbecue

This Pantry focuses on the VERY basics and keeps it simple for the person on-the-go & those not wanting to deal with too many ingredients in recipes. By using prepared barbecue rubs, salsas & sauces it keeps you enjoying the barbecue experience as you learn how to perfect your barbecue techniques AND if you don’t have a lot of extra time to make your own rubs and sauces and just want to enjoy a quick good barbecue this is a great place to start.

When we sent the kids off to college, we gave each of them basic barbecue grill equipment and a very basic barbecue pantry.   It was a great starting point for them and it kept them eating healthy without a whole lot of kitchen prep.

As they’ve gotten older, of course their levels of barbecue expertise have evolved into the need for more variety in their barbecue pantry.  They no longer want to stick to the basics. But there are nights when they still revert back to it for simplicity sake and to have a healthy meal off the barbecue quickly when they are short on time versus picking up some takeout.  Grilling does not take long to prep a fast and easy meal–AND it’s far more healthy than most food you will pick up at a restaurant.  So having some shortcut pantry items is not a bad thing in our opinion–especially if it keeps you eating healthy!

Our Recommended Pantry Items for Just Getting Started on The Barbecue:

1. Barbecue Rub:  For example, John Henry’s Pecan Rub   It is critical to have a good rub in your kitchen already prepared for quick and easy barbecue meals that are full of flavor.  If you don’t like Pecan, go for one of their other versatile rubs like Apple Chipotle or Bourbon.    All three of these rubs are top notch. They are not cheap BUT a bottle lasts awhile and if you make sure you conserve your rub wisely (AKA not pouring it all out on a plate then leaving half of it on there because you didn’t need all of that for your steak you are cooking) it lasts even longer.    These days we make large batches of our own rub (Mama Rub Recipe) instead but if you don’t have time to make your own this is EXACTLY what we sent Michelle off to college with.  There are plenty of great rubs out there so just make sure you have a good all around versatile one that can work for a lot of different meal items (meat, chicken, vegetables).

2. Barbecue Sauce: Everyone has different flavor interests when it comes to barbecue sauces…sweet, spicy, tangy, smoky, you name it–so it’s hard to choose one sauce that is good for everyone.  If you know you have a favorite, stick with it! If you feel like exploring we always love trying some of the local companies available (in Northern California where we live Kinders Barbecue Sauce is relatively easy to find and very tasty!)

3. Garlic Herb Salt Seasoning:  Same as Barbecue sauce there are a ton of options out there.  Having something that is a good light blend like this is great to have around for vegetables, seafood, shellfish and chicken.  A lot of people prefer Lemon Pepper Seasoning if they do not like garlic–we say to each their own! Just have a blend available that is lighter than the Barbecue rubs mentioned above.

4. Olive Oil & Vegetable Oil:  Olive oil for the food, vegetable oil for oiling the grill and keeping your food from sticking to the grill. Both critical ingredients to have for anyone grilling or barbecuing.

5. Kosher Salt & Pepper Grinder for Fresh Ground Pepper

6. Italian Herb Blend

7.  Lemon, Orange, Onions, Garlic, Shallots & Ginger:  Technically not going in your “pantry” but these are fresh barbecue staples to have around if you want to get a LITTLE creative with basic marinades. If you are not interested in exploring that area yet we suggest at LEAST having lemon & garlic around–it is great for giving certain dishes a little simple zing. For example:  Asparagus–brush with some olive oil, season with some garlic herb salt seasoning and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on it–makes a great side to any meal and takes about two minutes to prep. Or a simple prawn skewer recipe–brush with olive oil, squeeze some lemon on it, sprinkle some minced fresh garlic and salt and pepper and put on the grill!

Make sure you also read the below important pantry tips: 

Tip 1: Many jarred items will last several weeks in your frig, unless otherwise labeled with an expiration date, as long as you use only a clean utensil to dish it out, and never your fingers!  Don’t use your butter knife to put jam on your toast.  Date the container with a Sharpie.  If you have young kids, we understand this is a challenge but it is critical to keeping your ingredients lasting as long as they should be.

Tip 2:  If you have the time, an herb garden is such a great thing to have on so many levels! Saves you money by not having to buy a bunch of herbs just for a tablespoon needed for a recipe. It adds a great level of freshness that dried herbs just can’t duplicate.  Many herbs are really simple to grow, particularly the perennials such as rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme.  Some annuals are also easy like Italian parsley, basil, mint, chives and arugula.  Cilantro, dill & tarragon are great to have around as well, but take a slightly more green thumb than the rest.

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