Especially when you have to run back and forth to the kitchen to tend to things on the stove—note to self: move the patio door—you can help yourself by having all your grilling items available and organized. I used to keep most of the stuff in the little room that leads to the patio, but, darn, those patio sliding doors are heavy and annoying to open and close 25 times during one meal prep.
So, two years ago, I bought a folding prep table, and then re-purposed a big 25 gallon Rubbermaid® Roughneck™ storage box to hold the charcoal. I don’t just throw a bag of charcoal in the box or store a large bag in it, though. When I get a new bag, I divvy it up in 50-briquette paper bags, enough for a typical quick grilling of burgers and veggies. If I need something for long cooking, like a charcoal snake for a whole chicken or ribs, I can use two bags. For anything in between, I keep one bag to steal from. That means I seldom have to deal with those heavy charcoal bags, and I always know how far one bag will go. I get about 6-7 bags of 50 briquettes from a 15 lb bag, and I usually divide two of those bags at one time. I think a lot of people waste coals by just pouring from the bag. Fifty to 60 briquettes is a typical amount to put in the chimney I use to start the fires—I keep the cooled chimney in the box, too.
Tip: Wear plastic gloves when filling the bags of charcoal 😉
That helped some, but didn’t help with all the cooking tools, heavy cast-iron or oversized pans, and cleaning supplies. So this year, I splurged on a Keter storage/prep station with a nice stainless steel top. It was easy to put together, as most of the sturdy resin pieces just snap together, and it holds everything I need.
I still wish the kitchen were closer to the patio, though.