Mess-free mealtime from grill

I love grilling because it’s an easy, largely mess-free way to get dinner on the table, and there are few pots and pans to wash afterward. Here are a few techniques to make cooking out even less of a chore:

Use an empty, well-washed half-gallon carton to measure the proper amount of charcoal for a fire. Each carton of briquets is 2 quarts.

When preparing a marinade, line a bowl with a large zip-top plastic bag. The bowl will provide stability while you mix the marinade ingredients in the bag. Add your meat or vegetables, seal the bag and remove it from the bowl. No cleanup required.

If you forget to soak bamboo skewers, or decide to use them at the last minute, get them ready quickly by boiling them in a frying pan for 5 to 10 minutes. The hot water seems to penetrate more quickly so they don’t burn on the grill.

Instead of carrying out uncooked food on one platter, and then another platter for holding cooked food, simply cover the first platter in foil or plastic before placing the uncooked food on it. Once the food is on the grill, unwrap the platter and use it to hold the cooked items.

You can make several trips in and out of the house to get everything you need to take to the grill, or you can make a cooking caddy. An empty six-pack container — or if you want to be more fancy, a small tool tote — can be filled with salt, pepper, olive oil, foil, tongs and paper towels.

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