There’s no question that people love the summer season. You can break out the shorts, t-shirts and sundresses and enjoy all that comes with summer - sunny skies, swimming in the pool, vacations, cookouts and more. Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer and most people know this simply by the smell of barbecue in the air!

As you bring out your grill and dust it off for the summer season, here are five BBQ musts for your first gathering.

1. Clean or Purchase New Grilling and Cooking Tools

A backyard BBQ is not possible without your grilling tools, so make sure you have everything you need on hand - spatula, tongs, marinade brush and more. If you already have a set of grilling tools, inspect them to make sure they are in good condition. There should be no rust or broken parts. Also, make sure that you have the right kind of starter pucks, charcoal or propane for your grill.

2. Pick Up Fresh Chicken from the Butcher

Chicken is one of the most versatile foods you can grill. Breasts, kabobs, crispy chicken wings - the possibilities are endless! To ensure your first gathering of the summer is successful, make sure you buy the freshest meat. Look for chicken that has a pink and springy flesh, no bloody spots and no odor. Ideally, you should cook the meat within 1-2 days of buying it.

3. Pick Your Sauces, Spices and/or Marinade

Any time you grill chicken, it helps to use a sauce or marinade to add flavor and juiciness. Here’s a simple recipe for a chicken marinade that uses basic ingredients from the kitchen such as olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Or you can brush on barbecue sauce after seasoning your chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

4. Choose Fresh Summer Sides

Now that you have your grilling tools and chicken, it’s time to shop for your sides. Chicken pairs well with just about anything - grilled vegetables, potato salad, pasta salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese - the list goes on. If you’re planning on serving chicken sandwiches or wraps, don’t forget to offer your guests an assortment of breads, tortillas or pitas.

5. Store Your Leftovers

If you have chicken leftovers, it’s helpful to know how to store it properly so that you can enjoy it the next day. Chicken is so versatile, you can cut up the leftovers and add it to a salad or Greek pita. Store your chicken in a ziplock bag or sealed container and eat it within 3-4 days. Bacteria can still grow even at refrigerated temperatures, so it’s best to eat it within this time frame.

If you plan on hosting a summer graduation or birthday party this year, be sure to check out the catering options from La Rosa Chicken and Grill. We have freshly prepared foods that will make your summer cookouts ones to remember!

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