4 Tips When Attending A Cookout

by Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Last Updated: June 25, 2021

It’s that time of year again: cookout season! Cookouts are a great opportunity for fellowship with family and friends and celebrating the summer favorites we all love. Sometimes it can be tricky to navigate food choices at a cookout, however. A great cookout experience includes a mix of our favorite cookout classics and foods that nourish us. We’ve put together some tips to help you navigate your next cookout.
  1. Remember to eat beforehand.
    It’s good practice not to skip meals the day of the cookout and to choose a smart snack option before the event. When planning for a cookout, it’s easy to get caught up in the food we’re preparing for the event and forget to eat during the day. Setting a reminder to eat a meal or snack prior to the cookout can help prevent overeating once you arrive.
  2. Bring a nutrient-dense dish.
    It’s difficult to know ahead of time what will be served at a cookout. A good rule of thumb is to prepare and bring an item that contains a boost of nutrients. This item could include your favorite fruit or vegetable. Consider what produce is in season and make a nutrient-dense inspired dish with one of these items. See below for some summer side dish inspiration.
  3. Take breaks and enjoy the fellowship.
    In my family, a cookout isn’t all about the food—it’s about the fellowship with friends and family. Remember to enjoy the people and conversations around you. Taking breaks between your second plate or dessert can do just that. Another great option would be bringing out your favorite game to play with your family. Some of my family favorites include card games like Rook, Spades, and Canasta or a game of Dominos called Train Wreck.
  4. Be mindful of food safety.
    It’s important to keep an eye on how long the food sits out during a cookout. The temperature range between 40°F and 140°F is known as the “temperature danger zone,” and it’s the range bacteria can grow the fastest in your food. A good rule of thumb is to always cook food to the safe minimum internal temperature and do not eat any food that has been left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours (or no more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).

Summer Side Inspiration
When preparing your next side dish for a cookout, think outside of the box and try a side that features produce. Here are some recipes to inspire you for your next cookout:
Cookouts are a time to enjoy the ones around you. Using our four tips for a great cookout can help you worry less about eating and enjoying the experience. If you want ideas on how to prepare a nutrient-dense dish at your next cookout, reach out to our Kroger Health Dietitian Team.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen believes having a strong relationship with nutrition is key to having a healthy life and that relationship should center around the power of self-love!