With Memorial Day and the 4th of July behind us (or Canada Day for our friends north of the border), the outdoor entertaining season is officially off and running. Now, you might be considering sprucing up your space in time for Labor Day and if that�s the case� you�ll want to make time to read this blog (or at the very least, give it a good scan).

In preparation for this post, we connected with Bill Hoel Jr. of Southwest BBQ & Appliances in Arizona (pictured left). Who better to chat with on outdoor living know-how than someone who lives in the state where no matter what time of year, you�ll find beautiful weather somewhere.

Top 3 Must Haves When Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen

1. Optimize Your Budget

Often times when planning an outdoor living space, much emphasis is given to the seating arrangements, fire feature and landscaping with little emphasis given to the grill. Bill recommends allocating 30% of your overall budget towards a grill that will perform and last. It�s the one part of your outdoor space that you�ll use the most (especially true on days where you are grilling outdoors while enjoying your meal indoors). You don�t need to sacrifice too much, just choose where you�re going to get the biggest bang for your buck.

2. Plan Your Purpose

Hindsight is 20/20 right? Consider this: You are a recent empty nester and looking to spruce up the backyard now that you�ll be moving your attention back to some personal fun. When choosing your grill however, you consider that the majority of your grilling will be for two. What you don�t foresee is that the first time you entertain with your modest grill surface, your guests are going to be eating their dinner in 15-minute shifts. Try to look ahead and estimate how much you will be grilling for personal use vs. entertainment and make the best choice for your family.

Bill�s Size Recommendations:

  • 30� � The Classic: #1 seller for couples and families
  • 40� � The True Griller: Ideal grilling with integrated rotisserie, night lights & more
  • 52� � The Master Chef: Double rotisserie makes it easy to cook different meats at the same time

If you are leaning toward The Classic 30� grill, also consider a warming drawer. It�s a great way to prepare some food ahead of time and keep it warm until you�re ready to serve it. This will also help in freeing up space on your grill.

3. Consider Your Climate

In the State of Arizona, it�s not rare to be serving Christmas dinner outside in December (with historical averages ranging between 42F and 66F) and it also isn�t rare to have an outdoor refrigerator struggle to hold it�s temperature in 110F weather (like parts of Arizona just experienced this past weekend). So, when choosing how you�re going to keep drinks and condiments cool outdoors, consider an integrated cooler (or cocktail station) vs. a refrigerator. You�ll not only save energy and money, but you won�t have to worry about your refrigerator letting you down � simply add more ice to your cooler and you�re good to go.

On the topic of saving money: When planning an outdoor entertaining space be sure to factor in whether or not you will need to add electrical wiring for lighting and outdoor appliances, or a fuel line for your natural gas grill. These are expenses that people sometimes overlook in their initial plans, but can add up. The good news? There are many energy and fuel-efficient outdoor products on the market. Once the wiring and fuel lines are in place, you can enjoy the convenience of your outdoor amenities for years to come.