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Fire up the grill and entertain family and friends at the beach, the lake, or beside a mountain stream.

The Splurge Menu

Start with sangria and something soft or jazzy on the stereo. When the coals are hot, treat your guests to perfectly cooked filet mignon and some elegant make-ahead side dishes. For dessert: strawberries dipped in chocolate.

The Family Menu

Shape the burgers, bake the cookies, and prep the coleslaw the night before. Stock the cooler with everyone's favorite beverage and any munchies that sound good. (Don't forget the ketchup and mustard.) When picnic day rolls around, keep kids busy with a hike, Frisbees, or an outdoor scavenger hunt while the grill heats up. Music choice: Tunes from favorite movie soundtracks.

The Au Natural Menu

Cooking salmon on a cedar plank makes for a beautiful presentation and adds a taste of the great outdoors. Round out the meal with grilled vegetables and a fresh tomato salad. For dessert, keep it simple with a fresh fruit salad.

The Budget Menu

Make hot dogs more festive by serving them Chicago-style and dishing up plenty of potato salad. For dessert, offer slices of watermelon and homemade peanut butter fudge or brownies.

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