June 27, 2023
The first warm days of summer are the kickoff for cookouts. Planning and preparing for a cookout can seem insurmountable; it's certainly easy to get lost in the details of preparing for such a big event. But don't worry we got you covered. Here are 2 plans, a Cooling Plan and a Cookout Plan with easy steps.
Watch Julia prep for her wedding anniversary cookout with her ThermApparel UnderCool Cooling Vest.
1. Prepare Your Cooling Vest
Worried about overheating at your cookout? We have just the invisible cooling vest for you. If the day is going to be a scorcher make sure to put your cooling packs in the freezer so they are frozen and ready to go when you are. If you are hosting and have a lot of prep and setup work to do consider pre-event cooling, otherwise known as wearing your vest the day before for prep and setup, then wear it again the following day for the cookout. Pre-event cooling has been shown to help you stay cooler on the day of the activity by helping you from overheating and keeping you from being fatigued. Just make sure if you do pre-event cooling to remember to put your cooling packs back in the freezer that night so they are ready to go for the day of the cookout.
Proper hydration is your friend. Drink water! But it's a cookout! Beer, wine, and sangria are aplenty. Do those count towards hydration? Not really, but If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Here are some tips. Make every other drink water or iced tea. Beer, water, beer, iced tea, beer. While you are eating swap out the alcoholic drink for water. It's the perfect time to sit, take a break, refuel, and rehydrate.
Check to see if there is watermelon or grapes. Watery fruit and vegetables often contain levels of minerals and sugar that mirror this, so they can hydrate you more effectively than water alone. Watermelon is a hydration superstar composed of 92 percent water, eight percent sugar and contains essential rehydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Check out our Hydration Guide for more details.
3. Host or Guest?
If you are the host utilize your freezer to refreeze your cooling packs and rotate them as necessary to keep you cool all day. Have a friend help you switch them out. If you are a guest, think about bringing a small cooler of ice water so you can refreeze your cooling packs at your convenience, or if you don't have a small cooler find the drink cooler and pop your packs in there for a quick 30 min refreeze.
4. Check the Temp
There are 5 main environmental factors to consider: temperature, humidity, direct sun, other nearby heat sources, and air movement. What is the temperature going to be the day before and the day of the cookout? This will help decide what kind of clothing and cooling vest you will need. Below is a quick guideline but if you would like read more in-depth details check out our blog Part Four: Environmental Risk Factors for Heat Stress.
The most important number to remember for the average middle-aged person is 80F. Over 80F we begin to become less productive as our body has to work harder to expel excess heat. It's important to note also how temperature is recorded by your friendly local weather person. Temperature is taken with a dry-bulb thermometer, meaning it is exposed only to the air (no moisture) and in the shade (no sun). This means that in many places what it “feels like” will be much hotter than the temperature reading.
Humidity is a measure of water vapor present in the air around you. The more water already present in the air makes it harder for sweat to evaporate off your skin, thus, making it harder for the heat to escape to your environment, making it harder for you to stay cool. Humidity causes a substantial increase in risk of heat-related illness due to its effect on the body's most potent cooling process, sweat. During the summer months, especially if there is an upcoming heat wave, you may hear the weatherperson bring up the heat index. The heat index incorporates humidity with the temperature to give you a better idea of what it “feels like.” For a significant portion of the US, humidity can raise “feels like” temperatures 7-16 degrees on a normal day.
Direct sunlight can increase the heat index by +10 - 13.5 degrees. So, if you are planning on being out somewhere that has ample shade, a nice wooded park, or a large stadium with covered seating you can probably use the heat index temperature. But if you are planning on being somewhere very open like your kid’s soccer game, or out on a boat you need to make sure you add about 10 degrees to the temperature.
Other Near By Heat Sources
Your direct surroundings will affect the overall temperatures. An "Other Near By Heat Source" many of us don’t consider but it affects us daily are, buildings, asphalt, and, concrete. It’s well documented that cities are hotter than their surroundings due to the thermal mass of infrastructure (+2-5F degrees average, up to +12F degrees hotter in the evenings ). You have felt the effects of this when standing in a hot parking lot.
There can be times when these external sources can provide cooling as well. This is common around large bodies of water like oceans where a current of cooler water makes the local environment cooler than it otherwise would be. Or at higher elevations in mountains, where lower air pressure keeps things cooler.
This is a good factor as air movement actually reduces our heat stress. Ever been to the beach? High temperature, check. High humidity, check. High direct sunlight, check. And yet many times it feels pretty comfortable. That is due to air movement. It’s usually pretty breezy at the beach and this air flow over our skin helps our body expel excess heat without more sweating. One thing to also be aware of are your clothing choices. For example, regardless of the environmental air movement, if you are wearing heavy clothes, PPE, or anything that prevent the flow of air directly over the skin, this effect will be lost.
1. Create a Guest List.
Perhaps the most important part of any cookout is the people there. Determining who you want to invite to your cookout will change how you plan the event. For example, a family cookout may be better suited to a park where children have a place to run and play during the whole day whereas a company cookout may need to take place in a parking lot for one afternoon. The menu for a gathering of 10 people will probably be very different from one for 100+ guests.
2. Hammer Out Logistics.
Once you have set the who, it's time to work on the when, where, and what. Determine the ideal location for the cookout and, if possible, reserve a date with the location. What would your guests like to eat? (Think of what you would expect at a similar cookout.) Now you have a time, place, and menu!
3. Set a Budget.
Now that you have determined the who, what, when, and where, it's time to settle the how. How do you plan to feed your guests? It's important to budget your resources--- your time and money--- for a cookout. It's very easy for a cookout to get out of hand and steamroll everyone. Don't let that happen to you! Figure out how much money you can spend on the cookout and how much time you can dedicate to prepping for it. Then hold fast to your budget! If you don't think you can handle it all on your own, partner with someone else to co-sponsor the cookout with you. If you plan to invite a lot of guests, consider asking them to bring sides or drinks to relieve some of the cooking burden on you making it a potluck.
4. Allocate Your Resources.
Even the most carefully planned cookout quickly falls apart if key players are not informed of the plan. Communication is key to any cookout, so start assigning roles! Are you going to be the Grillmaster? If not, then who? Who's going to be your sous chef? If you're asking guests to bring food, be clear about what you want each to bring. (And don't be shy about it otherwise Aunt Becky is going to bring her weak potato salad again even though no one asked.) And don't forget to keep several backup plans in mind in case things fall through.
5. Finalize Your Game Plan.
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of your plan for this cookout. Walk away from your plans for at least 48 hours and then go over them again. Did you overlook anything? Will you need more help than you originally anticipated? Maybe you simply need to change the date. Whatever the case, take the time to review all of the details of your cookout. Once you're satisfied, you're ready to set your plan into action!
So what do you think? Did we miss anything? Let us know your thoughts and, don't forget to share your cookout pictures too!
Q. What the heck was Julia making?
A. Avocado Salad - YUMMY!!
Avocado Salad Recipe Ingredients
- Grape tomatoes: I like to use a multi-color blend but if you can’t find them just red are fine. Cherry tomatoes may be substituted.
- Jalapeño: Fresh and deseeded. If you want less kick leave this out. If you want more kick try a hotter chili pepper.
- Red onion: If you want a milder flavor then rinse the red onion in a sieve, drain well, and add to the salad.
- Bell Pepper: Red, orange, or yellow. Whichever one you want for a splash of color and some crunch.
- Avocados: The best quality avocados are really what will make this recipe shine. A nice ripe avocado, not a mushy or firm texture, and a well-rounded flavor.
- Lime juice: Lemon juice works great too.
- Red wine vinegar: White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work here as well.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Standard refined olive oil will work too, it’s just not quite as flavorful.
- Garlic: As always stick with fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Dried oregano: A little will go a long way since it’s dried with concentrated flavors. We don’t want to overpower that rich avocado flavor.
- Salt and pepper: Add this to taste.
- Cayenne Pepper: Add this to taste. It adds a kick to the dressing. If you don't like spicy, it's ok to leave this out.
How to Make Avocado Salad
- Make the avocado salad dressing: In a small mixing bowl whisk together lime juice, red wine vinegar, extra virgin oil, garlic, oregano, and season with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Toss veggies with dressing: In a large bowl gently toss together tomatoes, jalapeño, red onion, bell, pepper, and avocado with dressing.
How long does it keep?
Because of the avocado in the salad, it should be served shortly after preparation as avocados can start to break down.
Also, the salts of the dressing will start to draw liquid from tomatoes and cucumbers so another reason to serve shortly after preparing.
This blog is a part of our Summer Bucket List Blog Series.
Check out the entire series to see all the cool adventures you can have this summer.