By Jessica Domel

Although summer doesn’t officially begin until next month, for millions of Americans the summer season unofficially began over the Memorial Day weekend with the firing up of the grill.

While I personally don’t grill, I love the taste of a good steak or a barbecued chicken breast fresh off a charcoal grill. The smell of the fire, the heat and the taste of the All-American beef evokes so many memories from my childhood that it just doesn’t feel like Memorial Day without it.

While I was contemplating what I’d do this Memorial Day, I came across this article that states that steak and burgers will again top the list of American consumers’ summer grilling favorites.

And why not? There’s nothing more mouth-watering than a juicy cheeseburger or perfectly cooked filet. And summer just wouldn’t be summertime without a grilled hot dog or pork chop.

There’s also nothing as unappealing as a steak that’s a little too raw or a burger that’s still mooing. That’s why every year, I politely try to make sure the person at the grill knows when it’s safe to pull the beef, chicken or pork off the grill.

I have this handy little chart hanging in my kitchen to remind me that safe cooking is of the utmost importance. After all, nobody wants to look back on the summer of 2013 and remember it as the one they became sick from eating undercooked meat.

So from my home to yours, here’s a little rhyme to help you enjoy the rest of your grilling season: The grill needs to hit the 145th degree for a steak safe for me.

If chicken is your meat of choice, it has to hit 165 degrees no matter what form it’s in. That one’s easy to remember.

The other white meat–pork–needs only to hit 145 degrees.

It can be confusing to remember all of the different degree marks for different meats, so I use a meat thermometer with a picture of a chicken on it near the 165 mark. It also has little icons for all of the other types of meat as well.

If you can’t find a thermometer like that, I suggest you too print off the chart from It comes in handy more often than you think, especially during grill season.