Master the Cookout: 7 Grilled Meals You Can Prep Ahead of Time

Work smarter, not harder during cookout season when you prep ahead with the help of these Food Network recipes.

Food Network Kitchen’s Slow Grilled Chipotle Chicken as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Copyright 2015

Matt Armendariz, Copyright 2015

The best part about hosting a cookout is socializing with friends and family around the grill. You don’t want to be stuck inside cooking different parts of the meal when guests arrive, which is where prepping ahead comes into play.

Choose meals that you can prepare in advance, so the only thing that needs to happen when you want to eat, is check on whatever is grilling. A little bit of prep work takes the stress out of summer dinner parties and makes these grilled meals a cinch to cook.

Make-your-own meals are the key to success for a stress-free party. This chicken gets a half-hour marinade and then cooks low and slow, so get started on the prep work about 2 hours before anyone is going to show up. When you’re ready to eat, heat up tortillas and scallions on the grill and carve the bird.

FNK HEALTHY GRILLED SUMMER VEGETABLE SPAGHETTI FOIL PACK, Food Network Kitchen, Tomatoes, Japanese Eggplant, Zucchini, Olives, Garlic, Sundried Tomato Pesto, Olive Oil, Crushed Red Pepper, Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Dry White Wine, Parmesan Cheese, Basil

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

In the mood to cook outside but can’t stand the thought of another burger? Pasta foil pack to the rescue. It’s one-pot pasta but without the pot to clean up later on. Put the foil packs together ahead of time and then add in the liquid and pop on the grill about half an hour before you want to eat.

This 35-minute meal is made even easier when you prepare it all in advance. What to make ahead: the tenderloin can be dressed with a brown sugar-chile rub earlier in the day, and same for the cucumber-pineapple salad. The potatoes go on the grill about 20 minutes before you want to eat, then slice and toss in some olive oil before a final trip to the grill to crisp up before serving.



Photo by: Christopher Testani

Christopher Testani

Kebabs are another secret weapon for cookouts – you can fit an entire meal packed onto some skewers. These chicken and veggie kebabs only need a few minutes of grilling before they’re ready to eat. If you want to add a starch to round out the meal, try these grilled sweet potatoes to serve on the side.

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04_WeekendOpener_ 089.tif

Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom Prop stylist: Marina Malchin,Food Stylist: Stephana BottomProp stylist: Marina Malchin

©Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Everything you want in a meal (veg, cured meat and cheese), piled on freshly grilled pizza. Prep the pizza dough about an hour and a half before you want to start grilling. After the dough is ready, gather the toppings and you’re ready to start. Grilling achieves the charred texture you love on a pizza and it’s way easier than it sounds. If you’re worried about technique, check out this tutorial.

Burgers are classic cookout fare for good reason. You can prep all the toppings and set up a self-serve burger bar way in advance. Go above and beyond standard toppings with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, crispy herbed bacon and horseradish mayo. Pro tip: either cover the toppings with plastic wrap or leave them inside until you’re ready to eat to keep bugs away.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This is a summery meal that is deceptively simple, yet looks great to present to dinner guests. Shrimp cooks in a mix of beer, butter and lime in a foil packet that can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator until about 10 minutes before you want to eat. Serve with white rice or a crusty loaf of fresh bread to soak up the delicious juices.

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