4 Ways To Save Over 600 Calories At Your Next Summer BBQ

summer BBQ

Is there anything more Aussie than the sizzle of a BBQ? I strongly feel like Paul Hogan may have had something to do with it! Because there’s very little we enjoy more come summertime than gathering up our nearest and dearest and enjoying tasty food and a few bevvies along with it. And if you’re watching your waistline this summer, there are ways to enjoy your summer BBQ whilst still kicking your health and nutrition goals. 

It’s not about avoiding social activities altogether, but about making a few conscious decisions and planning before you go!

Here are our 4 quick and easy ways to save 100’s of calories without sacrificing portions or fun:

1)    Drink wisely

I know we mention this every year, but alcohol does pack a caloric punch (aside from the other benefits of moderation).

Even if you’ve eaten healthily, but you’re downing soft drinks, spirits, wine or beer, you could easily consume an extra two meal’s worth of calories. But there’s no need to avoid drinking at your summer BBQ – just drink smart and try these tricks:

  • Stay hydrated with still or sparkling water and stay away from those sugar-laden soft drinks and juices. 
  • Swap sugary mixers for soda water and fresh lime.
  • Go half-wine, half-soda water for a refreshing spritzer and fill your glass with water between alcoholic drinks. 
  • Consider low alcohol beer and wine. 2 large glasses of full-strength wine (300 calories) Vs 2 large glasses of low-alcohol wine (120 calories ) saves 180 calories.
2)    Save the snacking

“Just bring snacks!’” feels like the unanimous slogan of summer BBQ’s the country-over. Chips and dips, crackers and cheese, bowls of salted nuts are just some of the staples. But who hasn’t sat down to a meal already full to the brim from feasting at the pre-meal snack table?? Unfortunately, an afternoon ‘grazing’ on snacks can add up to big calories at the end of the day. 

There’s no need to fully pass on the snacks. But, it’s worth getting creative with a vegetable platter and a light dip, dried chickpeas and fresh fruit.   

Let’s compare the alternatives: French onion dip with a large handful of corn chips (300 calories) Vs veggie sticks (1 cup) and light hummus (100 calories) saves 200 calories!

3)    Get un-dressed!

 Most store-bought pasta salads and coleslaw are heavy with calorie-laden mayonnaise and oils. So try to keep your meat marinades and salad dressings light (or on the side). Home-made or vinegar-based dressings are a great alternative and having the option for dressing on the side keeps the salads fresh.

Let’s compare the alternatives:  1 cup of store-bought creamy coleslaw (280 calories) Vs 1 cup of home-made light coleslaw (80 calories) saves 200 calories.  

4)    Perfect your protein! 

BBQing is a grilling technique and therefore should be a healthy cooking option. However, marinades and fatty cuts of meat can diminish those grilling benefits.

 To save on consuming an overload of calories or saturated fats, it’s important to make smart choices when it comes to your meat. 

Your calories could be reduced by half and your fat by over ¾ if you choose a lean turkey patty or Kangaroo mince patty over a traditional beef patty. The same applies to their sausage equivalents. Prawns or fish are other great options – they taste amazing BBQed and have their own fantastic health benefits

Let’s compare the alternatives:  Sausage meat burger patty (280 calories) Vs  lean turkey breast burger patty (160 calories) saves 120 calories


Well, there you have it! There is absolutely no need to miss out on your summer BBQ if you’re employing these simple, smart choices. Your health and wellbeing will be in check, and you’ll have nailed that whole ‘balance’ thing 🙂

Amanda Turbill, APD, MNutr&Diet, BSc (Molecular Genetics)
A self confessed foodie, nutrition nut and fitness advocate. Amanda gets to live her passions daily as a Dietitian with 12WBT. Having been a high level gymnast until her late teens she still tumbles to this day and believes to maintain life balance it's important to find ways to incorporate 'play' to daily life . A Bachelor of Science (Molecular Genetics) and Masters in Nutrition & Dietetics she has over 20 years working across all clinical nutritional specialties with a particular interest in Nutrigenomics, food allergy and food intolerance. Amanda is a proud mum and is always keen to help other parents nourish, and stay active together with, their own families.

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