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An outdoor kitchen can be a way for the family to enjoy being outdoors together - or in an emergency it can serve as an alternate means of preparing meals. Outdoor kitchens can be nothing more than a grill and counter top, or as involved as having a complete kitchen outdoors - right down to the kitchen sink. How involved your kitchen is will depend on:

  • Your budget

  • Location & area available

  • How you plan to use it

  • Local climate

When planning your outdoor kitchen, also look at using it in the event of an emergency. Doing so may impact some of the decisions regarding how you make plans for location, construction and design.

Planning for an Outdoor Kitchen

Location -

Should it be attached to the home or free-standing? An attached kitchen is typically an easier project since you can take advantage of utility connections, exiting construction and location. A free-standing kitchen will typically involve more construction which can be costly, but may offer a more casual outdoor experience. When looking for a free-standing location think about drainage, level ground, and protection from the sun, wind, and rain.

Basic Design -

Don't overlook storage. This might be drawers, cabinets, shelving or a compact refrigerator for storing cool items. Have enough space available for preparing food. With an outdoor kitchen, tile is a good choice for countertops. It can weather the rain and sun - and clean up is quick. Having a sink makes cooking much easier, however, if your space is limited and you don't have room for a standard sink, a bar sink can easily solve the problem.

Cooking -

Before deciding what type of cooking grill to purchase, you'll need to decide what type of cooking you plan to do. Consider free-standing or built-in. These grills can be purchased in different sizes depending on how much food you want to cook. And, they are usually fueled by propane. It pays to keep an extra canister of fuel on hand.

Some of the larger grills offer rotisseries and gas burners - very useful in an emergency for cooking wild game and boiling water. Other forms of outdoor cooking one might consider would be a wood-burning oven or an open fire pit. Both of these have their own special design requirements.

Dining & Clean-Up -

If you kitchen is small, you can always use picnic tables for eating and serving. Space allowing, you can have extra counter or bar areas with stools installed. Both make for good conversation areas while cooking. If your outdoor kitchen has plenty of floor space, table and chair sets designed for outdoor living make for comfortable sitting.

Our favorite DIY guide is Outdoor Kitchens is by Better Homes and Gardens. Once you've gone through this do-it-yourself guide, you'll be better educated to choose which outdoor kitchen is best for you.

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