Keeping Healthy at Summer Cookouts

Ahhh the sunshine, water and grilling! Summer has arrived in New England and families are outside and preparing everything from burgers, seafood, and chicken to side dishes and desserts.

How can families enjoy the summer eating fun without compromising their health?

Start by Planning Ahead:

Eat a snack before the get-together. You are far less likely to overeat if you are not starving when you arrive. Being less hungry means that you are also less likely to overindulge and make a smarter decision when food is available.

Some fun sample snack ideas to try ahead of time include:

  • Use lean turkey meat to wrap slices of avocado for roll-ups
  • Spread 1 tbsp. of natural peanut butter on a whole-grain waffle and add a few apple slices
  • Have a handful of nuts and low fat string cheese or Greek yogurt

Healthier Alternatives: 

You and your family don’t have to skip all the goodies but preparing healthier alternatives allows for less discretion later (like dessert)!

Check out some of these healthier meal alternatives:

  • Make burgers more nutritious by choosing 90% lean beef or higher.
  • Make your own turkey burgers with extra veggies by chopping up onions, peppers and mixing them into the turkey burgers; wrap burgers in lettuce or add lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions to sandwiches.
  • Choose grilled chicken or fish over meat as they are lower in saturated fat and have protein which will keep you feeling fuller longer.
  • Try making your own sweet potato salad over white potato salad; use greek yogurt in place of mayo and add extra onions and celery.
  • Make veggie kabobs for the grille. Include red peppers, green peppers, red peppers, onions, and lean meats.


Don’t forget that summer heat increases you and your family’s risk of dehydration. Bring water bottles along as a reminder to water bottle with fruits in itfill up throughout the day. Try the new fruit infuser bottles, which allow you to natural sweeten water without the extra alternative sweeteners.

Stay Safe:

Summer cookouts mean more time in the sun for you and your food! Keep food safe by remembering these simple tips:

  • Do not put food out until the group is ready to eat.
  • Do not let food sit out for more than two hours.
  • Set your timer on your phone from the moment food is taking off the grill or out of the fridge.
  • Prevent any cross-contamination by keeping raw meat materials and surfaces separate from flatware and other food items.
  • Make sure to wash your hands immediately after handling raw protein or surfaces that they have come into contact with, including plates and flatware. Never use the same plate to hold raw and cooked meat.
  • Remember to wash your hands!
  • Preheat your grill at least 20 minutes before using it to not only ensure it is ready for cooking but also to help kill germs lingering since last use.
  • Remember to wash your hands!

Skylar’s Bottom Line: Summer cookouts and parties are a special time of year for kids and families to enjoy being together. Try to practice the 80/20 rule; aim to eat healthy 80% of the time (perhaps Monday-Saturday) and 20% of the time (a Sunday BBQ), you have to live!

Kids putting fruits on sticks

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