A propane griddle is like a secret weapon. It gives you shortcuts, and hacks you never knew you needed. Parents need every advantage they can get, and a griddle is just the thing for meal time.
I consider myself somewhat of a seasoned veteran of family meal prep. With over a decade of family meal prep, and five kids under my roof, I have suffered through enough dishes, tantrums, and exhaustion to know this is serious. We need all the optimizations we can get!
Another facet of this discussion is my love for lean manufacturing principles. I love the philosophy of continuous improvement. I like Paul Akers’ commendation to sweep, sort, and standardize your workspace. I think 2 second improvements every day will yield huge benefits long term. When I see a strategy that will improve something significantly, I jump on board.
I’ve been cooking meals on the 28″ Blackstone griddle for three years now. After the first year I gave away my standard propane grill. Now at the end of my third summer, I realize I haven’t touched the charcoal grill in over a year. It’s time to dial it in further, and give that way.
Three years in, I can easily say this is the most beneficial cooking device possible for our family. In the summer there have been weeks we cook every meal on the griddle. In the winter, I keep it at the ready, and cook often from my garage (which I would never attempt with the grill, mind you). Why is it good for a family? Lets explore the ways:
1. It makes it easy to cook a multi-course meal on one surface.
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we have many meals that can be done exclusively on the griddle. The fact that you won’t be losing anything through a grate opens up a whole world of possibilities. Need some bacon for your burgers? Great! Cook up the bacon, and then cook the burgers in the bacon grease! Cook the veggies next to the burgers, and use that same bacon grease to add a smoky depth to them. Cooking breakfast? Cook a whole batch of pancakes, and then cook a pile of eggs all on the same surface. Lunch, don’t even get me started on the sandwiches you can grill up.
2. It makes it possible to cook a LOT of food at once.
My go-to example for this is pancakes. I used to dread pancake day, because it invariably meant a very long session of cooking pancakes in several pans, a couple at a time. NO MORE My friends! Now I cook a whole batch at once on the giant surface of the griddle. In fact, we’ve resorted to cooking two or three “batches” in one session, which gets us through a meal with leftovers! When you can cook nine or ten pancakes at once, you can blaze through that huge vat of pancake batter.
Veggies are another great example. It’s possible to cook up a family size pile of vegetables, perfectly steamed and browned on the griddle.
Hamburgers? No problem!
Hot dogs? Just put the whole package on the griddle, and let them warm up, and brown. So easy, and you have much more time before they burn, since they’re not exposed to the flame. Who likes charred hot dogs anyway?
3. Cleanup Simplified
Griddle Cleanup is a breeze. Take a few moments when the cook is finished to clean the griddle, and you’re all set. Scrape the burned on food bits off, push it all to the back where the grease tray is, and sometimes add a little oil to layer on the seasoning, and your’e done! Forget all those trays, skillets, etc. Using one food cooking surface radically simplifies the cleanup process, and the fact that it’s so hot, and not electric means you can squeeze on some water to get the food to release, and finish with the scraping and cleaning process.
4. Theatrics with spatulas is fun.
The kids enjoy using the spatulas, and I love impressing them with my fancy hibachi skills. Having two spatulas is highly recommended for the things it lets you do, and on top of that – even the sounds are fun!
5. The food is delicious, and takes less thought.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve delivered a whole meal’s worth of food to the table and had everyone raving over the delicious flavors. It’s a wonderful moment, and a needed win for us. Our kids can be picky which is very frustrating. The griddle has brought peace to our home where there was once strife. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.
The extra bonus is that it’s simple. I don’t think too much about veggies. They just steam for a while, and then when soft, I let them get a little char. Burgers are quick, and finish all around the same time. Planning is easy, There’s just one path. This is the way.
BONUS: reheating food
There is magic in the griddle when it comes to reheating foods. Particularly foods with cheese or crust. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog, but there was a moment I decided to reheat our leftover fancy home made Jalepeno Mac and Cheese on the griddle. That was a good moment. It was borderline heavenly. I’ll leave the results up to your imagination, and a future blog post.