Supermarket Basics Every Griller Needs

These supermarket staples make it easy to improvise at the grill. Stock up and you'll be prepared, whatever the mood brings.

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Essential Food Items

Summer is the season of spontaneity — when a passing neighbor can become a last-minute dinner guest, and the plump tomatoes and zucchini you picked up at the market turn into the centerpiece of brunch. And when it comes to go-with-the-flow entertaining, there's nothing better than a grill: It's fast, cleanup is a snap, and practically everything tastes better with the smoky, crispy char you can get only from a fire. The following supermarket staples make it easy to improvise at the grill, no matter if you're cooking T-bones, plums or potatoes. 

Vegetable Oil

Reserve the pricey extra-virgin stuff for salads and brush this neutral-flavored workhorse on your grill grates to create a nonstick cooking surface. You'll get great grill marks on steak and seafood. Also nice for tossing with veggies before they go onto kebabs and for coating superabsorbent eggplant planks.

Bottled Vinaigrette

Consider this your shortcut marinade. A 10-minute soak keeps chicken juicy and flavorful and gives steak a subtle tang. Oh, it's good on salads too.

Seasoning Sauces

Barbecue, Worcestershire, soy and hot sauces are the fantastic four of the grilling pantry — equally at home in precooked or finished dishes. Check your stock levels before the season starts in earnest.   


The secret ingredient to more grilled dishes than you know. Brush it on shrimp, sea bass or pork chops before they hit the grate and be awed by how it transforms into a tasty sauce.

Ketchup, Mustard and Relish

Because no burger should ever have to go naked.

Beer (in Cans)

It's great for making beer can chicken — and because there is something about the way a cold can fits in your hand that makes everything feel more summery. 

Potato Chips and Pickles

Whether you're serving up hot dogs, chicken or chops, a couple of spears and a handful of crisps will fill out your plate so you can call it a meal. 


Skewered on a stick and browned over the grill, these are always a treat. Add graham crackers and chocolate and you have dessert.  

Essential Grilling Supplies

In addition to stocking the pantry and fridge with grill-friendly basics, make sure you stock up on these essential supplies to make it easy to fire up the grill whenever the mood strikes. Fortunately, you can pick them all up with the groceries at most supermarkets. 

Heavy-Duty Foil

What can't this multitasker do? Use it to make pouches for cut-up veggies, potatoes or shrimp. (Poke a few steam holes before setting the bag on the grate, or nestle it in the embers for a campfire touch.) Place a sheet of foil flat on the grate and use it as a cooking surface for delicate fish. Or try it as a liner for the bottom of the grill when you're cooking super-drippy items like country ribs or barbecue chicken. When you're done grilling, ball up a fresh sheet, grab it with your tongs and use the crumpled edges to scrape up grease and cooked-on food from the grate.

Wooden Skewers

Think beyond dinner kebabs. These wooden sticks are equally nice for spearing bread and sausages for appetizers or fruit and cake for dessert. (They're also ideal for cleaning out the seams of a waffle iron, but that’s beside the point.) 

Paper Towels

Keep a roll nearby for wiping up spills before they stain the deck. 

Disposable Aluminum Pans (Multiple Sizes)

Slip a medium pan under a roast during indirect grilling to catch drips and prevent flare-ups. Or pop one over your burgers to act as a cover and help melt the cheese. Into slow cooking? Stack two of the large pans together and rest your charcoal chimney starter inside when you prepare a second set of coals for long-cooked meats. 

Resealable Freezer Bags

Not just for storing leftovers, these are also ideal for marinating, since they're airtight and easy to turn so food gets full coverage. 

Instant-Read Thermometer

Whether you're cooking a rib eye or a leg of lamb, you'll never wonder, "Is it done?" again. 

Multipurpose Lighter

Thanks to this lighter's super-long neck, there's no easier way to ignite a chimney starter.


Cocktail hour run too long? If the sun has already set by the time you hit the grill, a well-focused beam will let you check the progress of your meal.