So you love to grill and have a sweet barbecue set up just the way you like it. But you’re tired of draggin’ everything in and out of the garage or storage place you use when you’re not grilling. Or maybe you’ve got a nice deck setup where your lovely lovely grill can hang out but you don’t really have a place to store all the other stuff – the coals, the wood chips, the extra gas canisters, all the stuff that seems to go with grilling. You’d like to spring for a full-on outdoor kitchen (who wouldn’t) but times are tight. You need some outdoor storage for all your bbq stuff, but what’s a poor guy to do?
Simple. Man up and realize that solutions are far closer and simpler than you think.
If you’re wanting to go the route of a pseudo outdoor kitchen then feel free to start a-building onto your deck. If you’ve got the know-how and a few plans then have at it. If you have the ideas but not the skills then you’re going to need to pay somebody for their troubles or bribe them with food or some sort of compensation. Don’t overlook the re-purposing of used material and supplies. Your local dump or recycling center or wherever used furniture gets disposed of can be a treasure trove if you don’t mind used stuff for outdoor storage of your bbq supplies.
However, if you’re looking for something less permanent there are a whole lot of other storage options and they usually begin with plastic. Rubbermaid is often the undisputed king (or queen) of the plastic storage accessory but that doesn’t mean your local store won’t have some awesome choices as well. Other companies do a fine job in this field, but Rubbermaid pretty much dominates all.
You are probably going to be looking for either a storage box or more of a storage shed with doors. Boxes will be more flexible in size and where you can put them, but the downside is everything kind of goes in on top of each other. The storage shed style is nice in the fact that you’ve got doors that open up so you can easily get in and look at what you’ve got and what you need. The drawback is the size and price – these things are neither small nor cheap.
We’ve got a few choices from Amazon that we like the looks of, both shed style and box style. Go ahead and take a look and see if anything fits the bill for you. One thing to keep in mind though – plastic isn’t perfect. High heat, direct sun and really really cold temperatures, like Minnesota cold, can make it live a short miserable life.
Take a look and let us know what you think.
Back in 2010 LTB published two articles on outdoor kitchens – here and here. In trying to revamp them for 2012 we were looking at them and decided to just write a new article. There was a bit of overlap in the two articles that didn’t need to be there and trying to rewrite them was turning into more of an irritant then was worth it. Although the concepts in them are still relatively sound, a few things have changed that need to be mentioned.
So what’s changed? Well, a lot has changed and also very little has changed. I hate to be wishy-washy about things and say that something is simultaneously fantastic and terrible, but unfortunately for outdoor kitchens, that is true. I’ll try to make a quick summary for those who are irritated by longer stories and examples. Essentially if you find yourself or your family A) spending more and more time cooking and grilling outside, B) getting more and more irritated by the constant back and forth between the grill and the kitchen and C) can either financially afford a decent outdoor kitchen or are willing to build one that matches your economic realities, then great, an outdoor kitchen is probably for you.
However, keep in mind the following don’ts:
– Don’t build one that is far in excess of what you will realistically utilize.
– Don’t build one because you think it will add value to your house – it probably won’t.
– Don’t build one if you live in a house that you don’t plan to stay in for a long time.
– Don’t build one thinking you can just take it with you to your next home. A rolling barbecue you can easily take with you. Outdoor kitchens, I don’t care how “modular” they may be billed as, will be a pain to bring to your new residence and probably won’t fit in with the design or space at your new place.
Really, in the current economic climate, building an outdoor kitchen will depend on you and your financial realities and goals as much as your desire to cook, eat and play outside. Here’s an unrelated but instructive example: my parents both worked (both now retired) and our financial situation was, in reality, in the low to middle range of the middle class. They could have purchased nicer cars than they did but they have been strictly Honda Accord/Toyota Camry buyers for the past 30 years. They could have spent more money every month and had a higher level of car, perhaps even a Mercedes or BMW that my dad so enjoyed looking at. But my parents made a choice to save more money for their future. To them, being able to save money in the present and not have to worry excessively about money when they retired was more important. Other friends of theirs made other choices. One of my dad’s friend’s always drove a BMW that was never more than 5 years old. He bought nice condition used ones that were a few years old and sold them when they hit 5 years old. That way he always had a newer BMW and it looked like he was doing well financially without actually having to do as well as it looked. For my father, that was too much hassle, work and money expended on something that, although cool and desirable, in his world view and scheme of things, wasn’t really important.
Long winded story, but I hope you get the point and how it relates to outdoor kitchens. Yes, the economy is continuing to do less than we hope it does. It would be great if things went back to how they were in the 90’s and early 2000’s. But they’re not. And that reality has set in and changed many people’s thinking dramatically and for good. 5000 dollars for an outdoor kitchen? 30,000 for a high-end outdoor kitchen? “You’re out of your mind!” is what some people may say to that.
Others would think it’s a great investment. Why? It all depends on an individual’s situation.
Example A: Family of four, been living in the same city since high school, husband runs a successful small business, wife either helps with the business, has her own small business or works at a good paying but not high paying job. Financially rather stable, jobs are not as subject to the whims of the economy and they don’t live an extravagant life. Kids are just starting or about to start their teenage years. They all love to eat and play outside. Family in the area, kids have lots of friends and even though they work hard at their jobs, mom and dad put a great importance on family time. Weather isn’t super fantastic but it doesn’t get super cold or have excessive rain either.
Example B: Husband and wife, no kids but love to entertain. High paying and high stress jobs that although financially rewarding are subject to economic dips and stressors – think real estate and finance. Weather is warm all year round, they just moved to the area 3-5 years ago and would like to stay there for a long time. Thinking about kids, but not sure yet. Don’t plan to retire in the area but will stay there for 10-15 years or so.
In both of these examples an outdoor kitchen might make great sense for them. Family A is going to live and die in their house. They are not building an outdoor kitchen to add value to their house but to add value to their family life. For them it wouldn’t be seen as an extravagant purchase but rather something natural and beneficial to their family. Unlikely that they would go the high end route, probably go the economical path of buying just what they need with room for expansion, buying used or discontinued items, having friends help out with the building if they can, maybe even trading or bartering with people they know or other business they work with for what they need. For them, a 10,000 dollar outdoor kitchen can be had for probably around 5-7000 dollars if they save money in all the right areas.
Family B may also spend 10,000 dollars on their outdoor kitchen but they will probably get less of an outdoor kitchen for that price than Family A. Having not lived in their area as long they won’t have as great of connections as Family A. They will more than likely not have the time to put into getting the best deals they can and will use more money as their solution. They have lots of friends who come over and the family wants to spend their time outdoors in the great weather rather than always inside. For them, it would make financial sense to pay for a new outdoor kitchen because they can have friends and business partners come to their house instead of having to dine out at fancy restaurants all the time.
Listen – if you’d love an outdoor kitchen but can’t really justify the cost, then go budget, go modular and go DIY. What do I mean?
– Plan out your purchases for the next year or two. If you have a serviceable grill, than either stick with that or sell it and buy yourself a newer one. If you buy a newer one, buy yourself the best rolling cart grill you can reasonable afford.
– Check out discontinued models from reputable grill companies. Some models drop by 30% on the secondary market once they are discontinued, allowing you to get more grill for your budget.
– Don’t get dazzled by all the flash. Seriously, do you really need a rotisserie? If you do, then great, but if you’re more of a steak/burger/hot dog/ribs kind of family, don’t bother with it.
– Be sure, and I mean be really sure to look at buying over the internet. Yes, this site will make some money if you buy something from one of the links on our site, but that’s not why. Prices can vary greatly from brick and mortar stores to the internet. Be sure to factor in shipping prices as well
– Build or buy a sink and food prep area. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to do its job and not look like crap. Used is fine as long as the stainless steel can be scrubbed clean enough to make you happy.
– Get a medium to small used refrigerator and put next to your food prep area. Used is definitely fine for this, just clean it out well.
– Make sure all the installations are done by a professional. If you don’t know a professional who can do it, find one a local one on the internet or make friends with someone who can do it.
Hey, this kind of setup won’t be award winning. It won’t look super fantastic, people won’t come over to your house and say “Wow, what a great outdoor kitchen.” But odds are pretty good nobody’s going to come over to your house and laugh at your little set-up. They’re coming for the company and the food. If they overly criticize or make you or your family feel bad for your setup, show them the door. But I seriously doubt you’ll ever need to do that. They other great thing about this approach is it is customizable to suit your needs. Realize you need a bigger refrigerator? Great, get one. Want more storage space? Fine, put it in. Want to move it to another part of the backyard – easily done. Need to move to another house? You can take most of the stuff with you if you plan it out right.
Outdoor kitchens can be awesome. But they can also be overblown money hungry time sucks as well. If you can afford it, by all means go ahead and spend the money. LTB won’t criticize or look down on you. We’ll just turn green with friendly envy. On the other hand, if you don’t have lots of money to spend on an outdoor kitchen or have the money but don’t want to spend it, don’t be discouraged. There are awesome ways to build an outdoor kitchen on a budget if you are smart with your money and don’t care that it isn’t a super expansive architectural wonder. Just don’t build one expecting it to pay for itself when you sell your house. It probably won’t.
In the end, outdoor kitchens are about good food and time spent with family and friends, and not necessarily in that order. Keep that in mind as you are searching or shopping for your new outdoor kitchen.
Outdoor kitchens can be a great addition to an existing home, or an interesting development in one being built. Typically built in areas of nicer weather year-round, they can be built anywhere a person loves barbecue, grilling or cooking and entertaining outdoors.
The first consideration in building an outdoor kitchen is whether or not you will continue to cook outdoors to justify the expense. In all honesty, if you like grilling and do it a few times a month, it really will end up being a big waste of money. Outdoor kitchens are not cheap, beginning at around 5,000 dollars on the low end and running up into 50,000 dollars and beyond for the extravagant ones. If you enjoy cooking outdoors and want to build something, maybe a nice deck with a new barbecue would be the best choice. Cheaper than a full outdoor kitchen, the deck could add value to your home and be the starting point if, a couple years down the road, you decide you really do want to build an outdoor kitchen.
However, if you realize that you are barbecuing and grilling several times a week or more all summer long, try to grill as much as the weather will allow during the spring and fall, and even brave the cold weather for a few barbecues during the winter, an outdoor kitchen might be just the right addition to your home. Although adapted from the Mediterranean region of Europe, they can be built in any part of the country where people love cooking and entertaining outdoors.
At its most basic, outdoor kitchens are a place to grill with a place to store the stuff you use when grilling. Of course, just this small definition could be used to spend a lot of money if you go all out. Functional and serviceable outdoor grills for permanent installation can be found in the 500 to 1,000 dollar range, but it doesn’t take much to find them ranging up in the 5,000 dollar range, or even more. Add in some custom counter space and cabinets and you’re talking about a 10,000 outdoor kitchen – one that has just a grill and nothing more. Add a refrigerator, a sink, more storage, table and chairs, a pergola, some more outdoor kitchen appliances, maybe some custom lighting, and soon, you’re in the 30,000 dollar plus range.
However, if you stick to the less expensive grills, don’t opt for custom cabinets, find your outdoor kitchen plans for free on the internet, do some of the work yourself, choose things that are on sale, and realize that you don’t have to build the entire thing at once, your costs will be much lower. Most projections for lower-end outdoor kitchens will come in around 3,000 dollars, however, in reality, 5,000 dollars is a more realistic budget. Buying used equipment and having friends help with the work can bring these estimates down somewhat. Just make sure to do everything by the book and up to code for your area. One of the great things about outdoor kitchens is their ability to add value to the house if and when you decide to sell. A hastily slapped together one with multiple code violations and safety hazards will do the opposite.
Outdoor kitchens can be great as centers for not only cooking delicious food, but wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends as well. If you really think an outdoor kitchen is right for you, take some time to look around on the Internet for outdoor kitchen plans and outdoor kitchen ideas before jumping in with both feet. Talk to people you might know who already have outdoor kitchens to gauge their feelings. We here at Love That Barbecue love outdoor kitchens. They are great social and culinary hubs for the family. However, they are not right for everyone and every location. We hate to see people spend a bunch of money on something that isn’t a good fit for themselves or their situations. So take a good hard look at your personal situation before going too far and building an outdoor kitchen when you may not really need or want one. You might save yourself a lot of frustration and expense in the long run.
However, if after exploring outdoor kitchens, you truly think that is exactly what you need to do, then have at it. Our experiences with outdoor kitchens have been overwhelmingly positive and the people we know who have built them after much consideration absolutely love them and wouldn’t consider living without them.
If you live in an area with great weather most of the year or you find yourself cooking outdoors more and more during the nice weather that you do have, you might consider upgrading your grilling situation to an outdoor kitchen. While the super deluxe ones come with super deluxe prices, an outdoor kitchen doesn’t have to be terribly expensive.
But why would someone build an outdoor kitchen in the first place? Take a minute to think about the time you spend grilling. If you find yourself grilling more and more, perhaps spending half of your dinners a week at the grill, it might be time to think of upgrading from just a grill on the patio to a full-on outdoor kitchen. Having an outdoor kitchen will save quite a bit on time spent going between the kitchen and the grill and allow a more enjoyable experience outdoors. If you are already thinking about buying a new gas grill anyway, it is the absolute perfect time to explore the world of outdoor kitchens.
An outdoor kitchen at its most basic is a grill, some counter space with some storage beneath them. In fact, an outdoor kitchen does not have to be a permanent installation. There are portable outdoor kitchens which combine a nice grill with some storage underneath and some “counters” to either side of the grill. By portable they really mean rollable as that’s about all they can really do – be rolled from one area to another. Sure, they perform their function well, and they are great for those who decide on them, but in the fine opinion of the Love That Barbecue staff, they’re kind of neither here nor there. A good grill, sure, but calling them an outdoor kitchen is a bit of a stretch. And with nicer ones going for around the 1,500 – 2,000 dollar range, they are approaching the modest or budget outdoor kitchen installations. If you’re looking for a nice grill that rolls, keep them in mind. But if you’re looking for an outdoor kitchen, go the extra mile, spend a little more, and get the real thing.
So how much does an outdoor kitchen cost? Most budget ones will start at around 3,000 dollars. You can get them done for less if you do some of the work yourself or have friends or family who will be willing to help out, but if you’re paying for it to get done, expect 3,000 to be the starting price. Expect to pay around 1,000, plus or minus, for a serviceable gas grill, around 500 or so for a small refrigerator, 100 for a sink, with the balance being spent on countertops, cabinets, plumbing, electricity, and gas lines being installed. Mind, you, these prices won’t get you top of the line. What you will get for your 3,000 – 5,000 dollars will be a great outdoor kitchen that will be serviceable for some time. If you’re willing to spend more, going up to around 15,000 dollars, you will get much more. Some people spend 50,000 plus on a fully decked out outdoor kitchen complete with wood-burning oven, custom outdoor kitchen plans and construction.
If your days and nights are beginning to be filled with outdoor kitchen ideas and you’re starting to search for outdoor kitchen appliances on the internet at work, do yourself a favor and seriously look into one. That includes evaluating how much nice weather you will be able to spend at your outdoor kitchen and whether or not the whole family will want to join you in eating outside all the time. Outdoor kitchens can be great additions to the house, but like many expensive household expenditures, they could also end up being time-wasting money pits that never get used. Plan for your new outdoor kitchen wisely and you will enjoy it all the more.