Canadians consider it their patriotic duty to revel in the winter months, but most will admit they love barbecue season the best. Over one-third of Canadians say that their favourite summer food is "anything - so long as it is cooked on the barbecue" (Ipsos Reid). Warm weather offers more opportunities to eat outdoors and enjoy social gatherings. In fact, fun and relaxation are identified as the two main reasons why people barbecue (23rd Weber Canadian Grill Watch Survey).
It's perfectly acceptable to keep a barbecue menu simple and use supermarket shortcuts.
According to Weber, the most popular foods to grill are hamburgers, steak, chicken pieces and hot dogs.
Men are still the primary grillers and typically prefer to spend more time stoking the fire than slicing and dicing. Supermarkets can cater to the kings (and queens) of the "cue" by making it easy to find in-store accompaniments for their meaty entrées.
Produce and deli managers can take the guesswork out of summer sides by offering ready-to-grill items such as:
- Pre-threaded skewers of vegetables.
- Combos of cut vegetables paired with a grilling sauce to prepare in a grill basket or foil-grilling bag. Canadian grill expert and cookbook author, Ted Reader's favourite grilled veggies include "...a variety of sweet peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions, mushrooms (portobello oh so meaty), asparagus and artichokes".
- Onion ring "lollipops" (thickly sliced onions, secured with a wooden skewer, to hold their shape during grilling) to garnish burgers and steaks.
- Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto to grill for a gourmet side dish or appetizer.
- Charcuterie platters with sliced cured meats, olives, marinated vegetables and pickles are a terrific, last minute purchase to serve at any alfresco feast.
Retailers can take a cue from Kraft's Sizzling Salad Kits and cross merchandize boneless chicken breast, steak, sausage or fish fillets with bagged salads and a complementary salad dressing to create entrée kits. And, providing multi-pack combinations of popular deli salads in ready-to-serve containers can offer the same convenience as prepared fruit trays and veggie platters.
When asked about the supermarket shortcuts he stocks up on for outdoor entertaining, along with smoked sausages and hot dogs, guru Ted Reader always makes sure to have "...Naan and other flatbreads. You never know when you might need to feed a crowd and these items on hand make it easy".
So, think outside the bun and encourage consumers to pick up other bakery department options with creative positioning for outdoor entertaining. Using an indoor grill, these ideas could be easily sampled at in-store demos to inspire shoppers.
- Brush flatbreads, foccacia, pita, baguettes and other grill-friendly breads with flavoured oils and toast on the grill. Cut into wedges and serve with any combination of salsas, hummus, spreadable cheeses or dips.
- Brush sliced pound cake with canola oil and toast lightly on the grill. Serve topped with fresh fruit, prepared dessert sauces and whipped cream.
And, don't forget the indispensible tools of the trade. These items should be displayed near meats or other barbecue-friendly items so they're easy to find.
- Wooden or metal skewers
- Heat-proof brushes and tongs
- Heavy duty foil
- Meat thermometers
- BBQ starters
- Sealable plastic bags (for marinating)
- Napkins, disposable plates and utensils
Let's get grilling!