Sure, the trappings are fairly common: paper plates, plastic cutlery and cups, paper towels or napkins. After that, though, the differences become keen.
I’ve been invited to countless birthday parties where the fare is simple: pizza, soda, beer, salad and chips. If it’s a kid, there is the dreaded possibility this could all take place at a Chuck E. Cheese.
I’ve gone to more than a few dinner parties, with nice sit down meals served with real tableware and topped with some classy dessert.
None of those are BBQ parties. Certainly not my BBQ parties. Let’s do a brief shopping trip together.
The initial run, which takes place about 10 days out (yesterday, to be exact), takes care of supplies and storable foods: cheese, shredded and chunk, macaroni, baked beans, crackers, peanuts, kiddie munchies, butter, chicken wings and shrimp (frozen), serving pans, sterno, table cloths, pickles, olives and any other support or adornment items.
The above trip is usually Wal-Mart. I often get asked why I don’t have a bulk store membership (like Costco). That answer is simple: I’m a single man. There is no need to build a new storage area for 240 extra rolls of toilet paper or 6 extra ketchup bottles. Wal-Mart has “bulk” sizes more to my needs, even for parties.
Ok, now about a week out, it’s time to canvas the “butcher chains” for my main meats. With the departure of my beloved Albertson’s, this reduces down to either Western Beef or Penn Dutch. Fortunately, my birthday BBQ always coincides with Memorial Day so each store has a big sale on various BBQ meats. The one with the best rib deal is the one I go to. If that’s Western Beef, it means breaking out the winter wear. That trip will likely be either tomorrow or next Tuesday.
Once the ribs, burgers, sausages and dogs are out of the way, it’s time to consider the produce. Obviously you need lettuce, onion and tomato for the burgers, but I also need a variety of veggies to cut up for appetizers. Plus, I need peppers and onions for the sausage and peppers, corn on the cob and a whole mess of fresh fruit so I can prepare a nice fruit salad. That means a trip to the fresh market. In order to guarantee freshness, I need to wait until the Thursday before the Saturday BBQ.
Lastly, there’s a Publix (our local dominant supermarket) about 2 minutes from my house for last-minute pickups (ice, coleslaw) plus the spoil-risk items like the buns and bread.
Add that all up and you have four different stores for four different goals at four different times. That should cover everything.
Except for that thing I remember Saturday morning and have to rush out to get.