With the unofficial beginning of summer approaching this weekend, you may be yearning for some yummy food straight off the grill. Don’t have a grill? Well here are some questions, courtesy of USA Today, that you should keep in mind and be able to answer when buying a grill:

  1. Charcoal or gas? To answer this question, you need to think about what you want out of your grilling experience.

    Most fans of charcoal maintain that their grills cook more-flavorful food because of the smoky taste from the coals. Gas grill advocates point to the time savings of gas, and the efficiency of buying a propane tank every few weeks instead of a bag of charcoal more regularly.The choice isn’t always that clear: Some gas grills include options such as “flavorizer” bars that sit over the gas burners and try to infuse the smoky taste. And while preparing and cleaning a charcoal grill may take longer, a good quality charcoal grill tends to heat up more quickly.

  2. How often will I use my grill? If you only plan on grilling hot dogs and hamburgers on occasion, there’s no need to spring for an expensive grill. Only get a grill that will closely fit your specific grilling needs.
  3. How much cooking surface do I need? If you plan on doing mostly large cookouts with your grill, you’ll want to make sure you have enough surface area on your grill to cook many things at once. However, if you’re usually just cooking for a small family, you may not find it worthwhile to spend more for extra grill space.
  4. How can I store it? It’s important to not only thinking about using the grill, but also what you’re going to do with it when it’s not in use.

    You can add a few years to the life of your grill by covering and storing it properly during rainstorms. Most gas grills come with a slip-on cover or you can purchase covers separately online. Charcoal grills, such as the Weber One-Touch Silver, don’t come with a cover, but you can buy one online or from a grill retailer.

    If you live in a climate that gets a lot of rain and snow, look for a grill with good sturdy wheels and handles for easy moving. Even after you’ve covered it, it’s not the best idea to leave it in the rain or snow during the winter. Portable grills, such as the Coleman RoadTrip, can fold right up to be taken indoors for easier storage.

  5. Should I pay more for extra options? There are extras up the wazoo when it comes to grills. Between side burners, extra heating elements, warming racks, etc., it can be hard to determine what you actually need.

    These are certainly good purchases for experienced grillers who want as much flexibility as possible and the latest and greatest grill technology. But don’t be swayed by these add-ons if all you’re looking for is a respectable grill that offers solid performance. Inexperienced grillers may even find that some of these extra features are hard to use. There are plenty of grills out there that don’t include these extras but cook very well at a much more reasonable cost.

USA Today has some great, specific suggestions for grills that could work for you over at their post, 5 Things to Know Before Buying a Grill.