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Your Guide to shopping for barbecues and picnics


Now the barbecue and picnic season is upon us, the supermarkets are filled with a variety of pre-prepared and ready-to-eat foods for our convenience.


While it’s healthier and cheaper to prepare and cook your own food at home for these occasions, sometimes it’s just quicker to pick up some items from the shops, especially if you’re having a last-minute barbecue or picnic.


With the selection of foods available, it becomes more important tocheck food labels.


Here we take a look at what’s available in the shops and suggest healthy alternatives and tips to help you make healthier choices.

Meat, fish and vegetarian options

  • When buying meats for a barbecue, choose lean cuts with the skin removed. If you’re buying from your local butchers, ask for the visible fat to be trimmed off.
  • Look for reduced-fat burgers and sausages or go for the mini versions if you’re trying to control your portions.
  • See what’s on special offer at the supermarket – often cuts of meat and fish from the counter are reduced at the end of the day.
  • Try frozen fish and seafood, such as prawns.
  • If you’re really short of time, there are lots of pre-marinated meats and fish that are ready to go, but docheck the labelsas the salt and sugar content of ready-made marinades and rubs can be quite high.
  • Go for low-fat vegetarian versions, such as veggie burgers, Quorn burgers or sausages, or tofu.
  • For picnics, pre-cooked meats make great sandwich fillings.

Fruit and vegetables

  • Don’t forget to include some fruit and vegetables in your trolley.
  • Corn-on-the-cob.png

    Choose fruit and vegetables that are in season and buy them from your local market - as they tend to be a bit cheaper.
  • Many vegetables barbecue well and it’s a good way to make up your five a day – try corn on the cob, Portobello mushrooms, beetroot,courgettes, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and aubergines.
  • For picnics, look out for pre-prepared vegetables, such as carrots, celery, peppers and cucumber sticks. Cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas make great snacks, too.

Pre-packed salads

  • Pre-prepared salads can be high in calories, especially if they have salad dressings, cheese, croutons or nuts added to them. So, if you’re trying to keep your weight in check, leave them out if you can or only buy smaller portions.
  • Don’t forget to check the carb content of the salads when you’re carb-counting, especially if they have foods like pasta, potato, quinoa, couscous, beans or lentils added.
  • Go for healthier options where possible – don’t forget tocheck the labeland compare products. Try to pick packaged foods with no red labels on the front.

Sides, dips and condiments

  • A lot of dips, sauces and dressings can be creamy and high in calories. To cut the calories, opt for salsas, relishes or pickles, read the labels and be mindful of your portions.
  • Opt for lower-fat versions of cheeses, such as halloumi, feta, paneer and Edam and reduced-fat Cheddar, but keep an eye on how much you use.
  • Choose reduced sugar and salt ketchup.
  • As an alternative to crisps, pick baked crisps, unsalted rice cakes, unsalted nuts or plain homemade popcorn. 


  • Fruit kebabsmake a great healthy dessert option – to save time, use the pre-chopped fruit on a skewer. Some fruit is great straight on the barbecue – try pineapple or apple slices, whole peaches, bananas or figs. If you fancy it, serve with a scoop of ice cream for a treat.


  • Make the most of the summer offers on drinks. If you’re drinkingalcohol, be mindful of how much you’re drinking and make sure you’ve had some carbs to eat beforehand if you’re at risk of having hypos. 
  • Go for diet drinks and mixers. A lot of the pre-mixed cocktail drinks tend to be high in sugar, so look out for sugar-free versions.

Having a barbecue? 

Download our healthier barbecue checklist and take it shopping with you to make sure you have everything you need for the perfect party. 

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