How you can throw the best BBQ ever

In “BBQ tips and tricksHow to plan a cookout,” Ginny Gaylor here at the CengageBrainiac blog wrote on May 20, 2013, all about how to plan your cookout. “Nothing says fun quite like firing up the grill,” she noted, before giving tips on how to be a good host and what to do to prep your grill.

Throw a summer BBQ so you can show off your grilling skills. (Credit: Kristen)

Throw a summer BBQ so you can show off your grilling skills. (Credit: Kristen)

If you need BBQ ideas on organizing a grilling event on campus, check out that article, and then return for a look at a good BBQ menu for college students, including vegetarian BBQ ideas and some tips on BBQ safety.

BBQ safety and on campus rules

Before you make big plans for your on campus BBQ, make sure you’re following all the school rules about using a grill. Rules vary widely from school to school, so it’s a good idea to check in with your student life office before you get started. For example, the University of Iowa allows outdoor grilling only for recognized student organizations; however, “Individuals may grill for tailgating during football games in designated parking lots,” according to the Risk Management, Insurance, and Loss Prevention department article “Outdoor Gas/Charcoal Grilling on Campus.”

The University of California Santa Cruz has similar guidelines: no individuals can use grills, but student organizations can get permission from the Campus Fire Marshal. At The Ohio State University, students can’t use charcoal grills, but they are allowed to use liquid propane grills within certain guidelines, such as being at least 10 feet away from buildings and having a fire extinguisher on hand. And Indiana State University, which allows charcoal grills, requires that students notify public safety an hour before any grilling occurs. With such a variety of rules, make sure you know in advance what is and is not allowed on your own campus.

Even if you’re grilling off campus, it’s good to check on local laws. Can you take a grill down to the public park where you’re throwing your party? Or do you need to grill at home and haul the finished food down? Are there public grills already available at the park? What kind of fuel do they require? Your town or city’s parks and recreation department should have the answer to these questions, and they’ll be able to alert you to other rules you might not hear about otherwise!

BBQ menu

Now, on to the fun part: planning the menu! It’s easy to default to burgers and dogs (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), but don’t limit yourself to the old standards. There are plenty of other options to make your BBQ party stand out.

  • A contributor to Divine Dinner Party suggested creating a theme for the food on your grill in “Backyard Barbecue Menu Ideas: Barbeque Menu for the Grill!” One idea might be doing a kabob party. “There are so many foods you can thread onto skewers– enough to make a complete BBQ menu!” the writer suggested. You can put a variety of meat onto skewers, including chicken, beef, shrimp, or lamb. Marinated vegetables make great skewers, and grilled tomatoes come out just right next to some large cut onions and green peppers. You can also make fresh fruit skewers as a dessert.
  • Consider planning an Old West style menu straight off of a chuck wagon with pork chops and BBQ chicken, beans, baked potatoes, and homemade cornbread. You can also consider other grill classics like ribs.
  • If you do go with burgers, consider adding toppings like bacon, spicy jack cheese, or homemade guacamole to spice it up. “Stock up on all your favorite fixings then let each guest customize their own burger,” suggested Allison Beck in her May 24, 2011, “Post-Graduation BBQ Party Menu” article for The Daily Meal. Beck also offered recipes for pigs in a blanket, homemade cole slaw, and watermelon ice cream cake.

Vegetarian BBQ ideas

Have a lot of vegetarian friends to consider? Aside from grilling some corn on the cob and veggie burgers, you can try some more exciting options, such as:

  • Eggplant rolls with chili, mint and feta
  • Tofu skewers
  • Bean burgers
  • Feta-stuffed red peppers.

A good source for vegetarian ideas is the Veggie BBQ Ideas blog [].

Don’t forget to plan for drinks. If you’re on a campus that allows alcohol (or if the public park where you’re hosting the party allows itcheck with parks and rec!), beer is a traditional BBQ beverage, with sangria not far behind. For non-alcoholic options, consider lemonade as a soda alternative, and if it’s going to be a hot day, make sure to have plenty of water on hand!

What are your favorite BBQ menu ideas? Tell us in the comments.

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