Food Menu Program Ideas: Planning a Healthy Cookout


Is your food menu program ready for a seasonal update? May marks the beginning of cookout season, so why not incorporate some backyard barbecue favorites into your nursing home or assisted living menus?

Proper nutrition is essential for seniors, but maintaining a balanced diet doesn’t have to mean missing out on summer picnic or cookout favorites.

planning healthy cookout

Choose Healthy Proteins

Who doesn’t love a char-grilled burger at a cookout? Go with lean ground round or ground sirloin to please the beef-lovers at your adult care facility. Ground turkey, chicken breast, salmon and tuna also make tasty burgers, and the lean proteins fit well in any food menu program.

For seniors craving hot dogs, low-fat varieties made with beef, poultry or soy can be an incorporated for an occasional treat.

In either case, pair the lean proteins with whole grain buns and top them with plenty of veggies to make the meal even healthier.

Grill Veggies for Sides

Grilled corn is a cookout favorite, but many seniors have to limit their servings because of the sugar content.

Most older adults, however, can enjoy a variety of other tasty and nutritious grilled veggies. Marinate chunks of bell pepper, tomato, zucchini and mushrooms, and cook them on skewers or in a grill basket for a delicious side dish. Or, serve up some grilled sweet potato wedges finished with a salt-free seasoning mix.

Offer Fresh Salads

Traditional macaroni salad and potato salad aren’t very nutritious, so they may not be ideal for your food menu program. Dietitian-approved recipes modify these conventional cookout recipes by using whole grains, adding more veggies and lowering the fat content.

Fresh green salads, using a variety of colorful veggies, are also great for adult care center backyard barbecues. Mixed bean or legume salad is another option, and offers a healthier menu program alternative to sugar-laden baked beans.

Serve Fruit-Based Desserts

For dessert, a seasonal fruit salad fits right into the picnic theme. But, be careful with your choices, as using too many fresh fruits with a high concentration of natural sugars – like grapes, bananas, oranges and pineapple – could affect the blood sugar levels of the residents at your adult care facility.

Fresh raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are healthier fruit salad options. Melon and kiwi are also smart menu program choices.

Fruit kebabs are another nutritious cookout dessert option. Skewer chunks of peaches, plums, mangoes and nectarines, then grill over medium heat. Serve the kebabs with a creamy yogurt dip sweetened with honey or artificial sweetener.

The Grove Menus meal planning system makes it easy to incorporate seasonal favorites in your adult care center menus. To learn more about our cost-effective system, or to schedule a complimentary demonstration of our advanced food menu program tools, contact us today.