Chicago entertaining

Everything you need for your summer BBQ’s

Looking to host a BBQ this summer? I included a checklist of everything you will need, along with all the essentials from Tony's Fresh Market in Chicago.

With Memorial Day approaching and summer arriving (hopefully, one day here in Chicago!), BBQ season has officially started. We have waited for nice weather for months. Now I can’t wait to take full advantage of the grill and sit outside on the patio. But first, there are a few essentials you will need for your BBQ, all with a little help from one of my favorite stores here in Chicago, Tony’s Fresh Market. I included a checklist below of all the necessities and food and drink suggestions for all your entertaining needs!

This post is a paid partnership with Tony’s Fresh Market, but all the views and opinions expressed are my own. There are also some affiliate links below at no cost for you to click through.

Tony’s has a wide variety of natural, whole grain, and organic items, as well as all the major brands. They also carry a huge selection of imported products. I always tell my friends, if you can’t find a fruit or vegetable at big, chain store, you almost always can find it at Tony’s. The produce and meat department are my personal favorites. Some of the best cuts of meat at affordable prices. Plus, they can cut your meat to order.

They are a one stop shop for your BBQ-ing needs and check out their flyer or download their brand new app for all the latest deals throughout the summer!

The Setup: Checklist

Here are some essentials you will need, almost everything is available at Tony’s, because it’s really like a one stop shop.

Summer BBQ checklist and all the essentials you will need this summer to host the best BBQ with friends and family.
  1. The grill- Ok, this might seem obvious right? But I love our Weber Grill available at Target. It’s great for small spaces, like our little city patio! We’ve had it for 8 years now and it’s going strong, cooks everything evenly and easy to clean.
  2. Charcoal/Propane Tank- You will need it all summer long. Tip- check the tank to make sure it’s full before you get grilling. Nothing worse than running out of propane half way through your BBQ.
  3. Aluminium Foil
  4. BBQ Grilling Tools- We bought these Weber grilling tools when we bought the grill. Very study and easy to hang on the grill.
  5. Napkins, plastic utensils, cups, and paper plates (all optional of course)
  6. Apron- How cute is this one for Memorial Day or July 4th? Plus it’s a Weber Grill apron, so it should last a long time.
  7. Paper Towels- because we all have that one friend that spills right?
  8. Bottle opener- This is probably the one thing I always forget to leave out before guests arrive!
  9. Ice- Gotta keep those cold drinks on ice right?!
  10. Bug Spray or I love bug repellent wipes for the kids. Easy to put on and doesn’t get in their mouth.
  11. Grilling spray
  12. Enough seating for your guests; tables, chairs and table cloths too! Think about those little ones too, where will they sit…
  13. Lighter fluid/matches
  14. Music- You have to create a great playlist right?! We love our Bluetooth Bose Speaker on our patio.
  15. Meat thermometer– Make sure your meats are cooked. We have this one and love it! We have used it for years for bbqs, Thanksgiving, etc. Very reliable and long lasting (we’ve had a few that haven’t last long at all)
Summer BBQ checklist and all the essentials you will need this summer to host the best BBQ with friends and family.

Food & Drink

Ok, for the best part. The FOOD!!

Hamburgers & Hot dogs

I have to say, I am kind of picky when it comes to premade burgers, but these are REAL good. They are ground chuck burgers from Tony’s meat department and you can grab 4 for around $8.00 dollars and they are SO good. There are also other options like Bubba or Jemm Deluxe patties. Pick up the Oscar Mayer or Vienna Beef hot dogs and Tony’s buns.

For seasoning, I like to keep it simple with this McCormick Burger Seasoning. It’s simple, but not overwhelming.

I also recently started using Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce and it’s SO GOOD! I found it at Target.

To give my burgers an extra kick (I love anything spicy!), I add a medium salsa verde on top. It’s so good!

All of your BBQ essentials, including a checklist and everything you might need from Tony's Fresh Market.
Summer BBQ checklist and all the essentials from Tony's Fresh Market that you will need this summer to host the best BBQ with friends and family.
Summer BBQ checklist and all the essentials from Tony's Fresh Market that you will need this summer to host the best BBQ with friends and family.

Potato Salad

Am I the only one that can eat potato salad for a meal? I love it! Tony’s has 4 different kinds and I was able to taste test all of them (shoutout to the nice lady at the deli!). My favorite? Grandpa’s potato salad, it’s the best!

If you like an egg salad instead, I have my mom’s recipe that I love to make.

Summer BBQ checklist and all the essentials from Tony's Fresh Market that you will need this summer to host the best BBQ with friends and family.

Corn on the cob

Is it even summer without corn?! I think not! A summer classic side and 5 for $1. Perfect on the grill. You can make it into street corn by adding mayonnaise, butter, lime and chili powder!


If you have been following me for awhile, you know my mother-in-law’s famous Puerto Rican rice is delicious. The recipe is here. I think it makes a great addition to any bbq!


Adding asparagus or portobello mushrooms on the grill is a great option for your vegetarians at your party. Additionally, mushrooms are a great addition to burgers too.

Watermelon (or kind of fruit in season)

The freshest! I could eat watermelon all summer long.

Chips & Guacamole

Guacamole is one of those starter that everyone likes. Some of my favorite guacamole is from Tony’s, it’s so fresh. They also make their own chips, those are a must too.


If you are huge salsa fan like I am (I put salsa verde on almost anything…), they have a big selection. Try adding it to your burger, it’s a game changer for sure.


I really liked this picnic pack because you can actually stick them back into the cardboard and easily transport them. Great if you BBQ is at a park or beach. I also love a good Chicago style hotdog, so don’t forget the celery salt!

Beer and Wine

Make sure you check the Tony’s app before picking up beer or wine, there are lots of deals! Don’t forget options for your non-drinkers too.


The bakery at Tony’s makes everything, so there’s cake, cookies and even churros-they are so good!

And that’s it! You have everything for your summer BBQ. I wish you the best summer kick off and enjoy your friends and family this summer season. I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. Add your comments below or DM me on Instagram. And as always, thanks for following and you can sign up for weekly email updates here.

Until next time,


Photography by Michelle Cox

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