It's mid-August already. I'm starting to panic. Summer has seemingly zoomed by.

Now, it helps to remember that grilling season is a year-round thing as far as this backyard chef is concerned. However, summer BBQs are a way of life for so many of us, and summer, my fellow grillers is winding down.

5 Top BBQ Tips for Grilling in Washington on Labor Day Weekend

Have you been barbecuing all summer, or are you going to go out with a bang during a Labor Day shindig? Either way, grills are going to get fired up all around the Yakima Valley when that glorious three-day weekend is upon us. That's when family and friends are likely to be elbowing their way into your backyard, mouths watering, and you're going to want to satisfy as many hungry guests as possible.

With all of this in mind, here are 5 Top BBQ Tips for Grilling in Washington on Labor Day Weekend.

BBQ Tip #1 - Plan Your Menu

Planning results in happier 'customers' and less stress for you and anyone helping to put out the nicest bbq spread. Plan your menu based on key factors such as: how many mouths will there be to feed (you don't want to run out), knowing the likes and dislikes of family and friends, and grilling a variety of meats - uncle Charlie likes pork, and grandma is a chicken fan. What about side dishes? Will you have guests bring items? Cool. Just be sure to coordinate so that 5 people don't wind up bringing jalapeno dip and nobody brings chips.

BBQ Tip #2 - Don't Experiment: Go With Tried and True Recipes

Hosting a big soiree is not the time for attempting some new, un-tested recipes. Go with what you know.

BBQ Tip #3 - Plan The Cook: Leave Yourself More Time Than You Need to Grill

Planning for a big gathering can be taxing, so be sure you don't spend too much time thinking about grilling and leave yourself less time for actually grilling. Be sure you have ample fuel ready to go - ie: propane tank full, plenty of charcoal, wood for smoking, etc.

BBQ Tip #4 - Have Plenty of Non-Alcoholic Beverages on Hand for Hydration

Yes, many of us love an ice-cold beer or two, or three, at a hot weekend barbecue. However, as a host, it's your job to be sure everyone has an option for staying hydrated in what could very well be extreme heat. I use a rule of thumb, one pint of water for every beer I consume. That's not scientific perhaps, but I usually find that with plenty of water on board, I enjoy myself more and feel better the next day.

BBQ Tip #5 - Clean-Up Begins Before The BBQ Starts

Here's what I mean: use environmentally-friendly single-use plates and utensils that are recyclable whenever possible. This is good for Mother Earth in more ways than one since you'll use much less water if you're not washing a bunch of dishes, bowls, knives, forks, etc. It's just much more enjoyable to not have as big of a mess to clean up after everyone has either passed out on the lawn or gone home. Have large receptacles in prominent places so that guests easily get the idea. Perhaps even encourage a family member who attends to bring side dishes in bowls that they don't necessarily need to have washed and returned to them.

These are common-sense tips that will enable you to work less and enjoy more on your Labor Day Weekend Cookout.

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