Easy DIY outdoor kitchen
Outdoor kitchens are all the rage. Little is more luxurious than dining al fresco. But one quick look at any architectural or home improvement website and you'll see that they are usually designed for the biggest homes with the biggest budgets. There are easy DIY solutions for creating a practical, beautiful kitchen to enjoy being outdoors all summer long. And when the temperature and the humidity rises and you can't stand the heat, don't stay out of the kitchen . . . move the kitchen.
Here's the basics of what you really need for an outdoor kitchen.
1. Protected space
A good outdoor kitchen will allow you to cook everything you would want to cook in an indoor kitchen. You'll also want to be able to use it in any kind of weather while keeping your kitchen tools protected. You don't need to do a major home addition. You can explore design ideas for building any time of attractive pergola or backyard shed like these Hobbit-like garden sheds made from salvaged materials. It can, and should, be beautiful without necessarily being fancy or expensive.
2. Prep space
A good kitchen prep space doesn't have to be made from granite, marble, or other expensive stone shipped from China. A simple picnic table or a used stainless steel prep table from a second-hand restaurant supply store makes for excellent portable and adaptable space.
With the advent of amazing portable induction cook tops (like this highly rated model) you can boil, fry, saute, or do anything outdoors that you could do on the most expensive indoor stove. You can run an extension cord from an existing outlet and save hundreds of dollars on hiring an electrician. The portable cooktops plug into any 110 outlet. Now you can boil pasta without steaming up the kitchen and raising the humidity level inside your house. Induction burners are flameless and have no gas, so they are very safe to use around kids.
A prep sink and the plumbing required to use it can run into the thousands of dollars in a conventional outdoor kitchen. A simple and affordable solution is using a high-quality garden hose that is suitable for drinking water. You can connect the hose to any type of prep sink. Get creative. Find a salvaged stainless steel sink from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and set it into a wood counter. Better yet, see if you can find a restaurant prep table with a built in sink. You want to avoid hoses with plasticizers or . . . wait for it . . . LEAD!!! Yes. It is still legal to sell garden hoses in the U.S. that contain lead. Remembering that you saved a ton of money on plumbing, don't skimp on the hose. Splurge and get this $100 hose that is safe for drinking and is highly durable: Water Right 600 Series Polyurethane Safe Drinking Water Hose. For the drain, simply build a French drain pit with stones beneath the sink. Use a mesh filter in the sink to keep cooking debris out of the drain.
You don't need a fancy grill. For $200 you can buy a Weber Grill that you can make some of the world's best BBQ. It's the chef, not the equipment, that matters. Don't worry about building a giant stone hearth that serves no purpose other than draining your bank account and impressing the neighbors who have the pink flamingos on their lawn. You don't want to be their friends anyway.
You'll need some good out door BBQ utensils. If you want to get fancy, you can by some stainless steel pots and pans for outdoor use only. A better solution is to bring the pots and pans you need from inside the house. A good wooden cutting board is a must. But these should be stored indoors unless you a have a well protected area to store it.
7. A frozen daiquiri machine
Need I say more?
Nothing beats cooking outdoors rather than heating up the house in the summer. You can enjoy your family and friends, crank up the music, and be one with the big sky. Happy eating.