(Sponsored Content) Whether you are planning a backyard BBQ or a potluck feast with friends, prepping for the 4th of July doesn’t have to be stressful – or expensive!  Registered Dietitian Annessa Chumbley joined us from her patio with some great advice for a hassle-free holiday weekend. 

The best parties have one thing in common:  quality ingredients! That’s why Walmart is my one-stop-shop for all of my fourth of July grilling essentials.

As a mom to 6 kiddos, I have to be a smart shopper because it’s easy to go over budget.  Walmart’s private brands like Great Value and Marketside have innovative products at affordable prices.

All you have to do is walk down Walmart’s produce aisle to see their wide variety of fresh produce— so you check all the boxes for this busy mom: quality, value and convenience!

Flavor is key at our house– and I have a lot of picky eaters at my table….so let’s get creative and elevate flavor with some in season ingredients from Walmart, like fresh peaches.

These are so simple to prepare, but they look amazing and super fancy.  Just halve your peaches, take out the pits and grill them until you see those gorgeous grill marks. Then, stuff them with some mascarpone cheese – which is like a more decadent cream cheese – whipped with some honey and a squeeze of lemon.

And speaking of lemons, grill them with some romaine hearts and you can make a smoky Caesar salad that really amps up the flavor.  Every single one of my ingredients came from Walmart – so you never have to waste time hitting multiple stores to plan your party.

I have some tips for grilling protein, like chicken from the experts at Perdue to help make your cookout a real hit.

Spread out your budget by using less expensive cuts of meat– like bone in thighs or drumsticks.  You can save time and cut down on prep and mess by using pre-cut options like Perdue Fresh Cuts Diced Chicken Breast. This is a perfect solution for kebabs. It’s ‘recipe ready’ in an easy peel package. And – the chicken is top notch– they’re hatched in the us and fed an all-vegetarian diet with no antibiotics, hormones or steroids.

Season before and after grilling, since sometimes spice rubs come off on the grill. And if you’re marinating– don’t overdo it.  Too much time in an acid-based marinade will start to break down the meat fibers and the texture of the meat will get mushy.

You know as a mom, you probably tell your kids 10 times a day to wash their hands– well, that’s super important when you’re seasoning raw meat. Make sure you also clean any work surface, like cutting boards, knives and your sink for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water.

And finally, no matter how good a recipe is, you want to trust a meat thermometer above all else to measure doneness.

This easy chicken kebabs recipe, for example, calls for 10-12 min on the grill, but we want to see an internal temp of 165 to know it’s safely cooked and ready to eat! I picked up this instant read digital meat thermometer at Walmart too.

Use a clean platter– you don’t want to throw that perfectly cooked chicken on a plate that had raw meat on it! And rule of thumb for chicken– refrigerate any leftovers immediately (especially in this heat) and use it within 3-5 days.

You can check out more grilling tips at www.perdue.com/how-to/grilling

For Annessa’s recipes and all of her shortcuts to delicious online at www.annessard.com and on social @annessard.