One of the greatest problems, however, is deciding what exactly you should eat! In this article, we’ve put together a few recommendations that should help your patio meals shine. The trick is to stick with light, summery foods, and the proof is in the pudding! Or, in this case, the barbecue.


Proteins


Burgers and hot dogs are always excellent staples for any aspiring outdoorsman (or woman). Not only will your kids love them, but so will any visiting relatives! Grilled or barbecued chicken—whether of the breast or drumstick variety -- is also a pretty safe choice. There’s admittedly not much to see here, as sometimes the standard variety can be the best way to go.


Vegetables


Here’s where things get interesting. The wide, wide world of greens (and other assorted colors) has quite an array of options for your family, and each choice can bring a particular summer-y feel to your table. Grilled peppers, for example—and especially stuffed peppers—can make up a filling, wholesome dish that adds a touch of tang to your meal. Grilled zucchini and mushrooms can be an excellent choice as well, especially when grilled with a vinaigrette marinade. Finally, if you want something fairly light and staple-y, you can’t really go wrong with a garden salad!


Carbs


Throughout my childhood, and even to this day, there has been no better summer dish than penne pasta with pesto sauce. Not only is my dad’s recipe the source of many happy summertime memories, it’s also a great dish to have with any other warm-weather foods! You can also make potato or pasta salad. If you’d like to try something a little more solid, you can try to make a baked potato in the toasty confines of your outdoor (or indoor) grill.


Drinks


When it comes to beverages, you’ve got plenty of options. Ice water is a staple, of course, but lemonade—both pink and not—is always a favorite for the kids. Sweet tea and iced tea (depending on where you live) can also be excellent choices. Juices can work in a pinch, but when it’s summertime, there’s no reason not to be a little more adventurous with your drink choices!


Dessert


What outdoor meal would be complete without s’mores? If you’re out on a campground, then making these delicious treats is as easy as pie, but if you’re backyard-bound, then you might have a bit more trouble. It’s more than possible, though, to make s’mores over the top of your grill! You might need to take a little more care to make sure your kids don’t mess with any dials and that they’re tall enough to reach over the top safely, but your end product will be delicious nonetheless. And of course, who could forget watermelon? I won’t go into too much detail on them here, but feel free to take a look at a more expansive (and fun!) look at watermelon ideas here!

What kind of foods do you like to eat in the summer? What have you found to work best when working with an outdoor setup? Let us know in the comments below!

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With more than 200 recipes from across America, The Great American Family Reunion Cookbook provides a culinary, coast-to-coast adventure and helps families of every background and every size prov...
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Lori Nawyn