The Meal Planner Series: Creating a Tasty Summer BBQ

Summer is approaching, which means it's time to get your BBQ menu ready with healthy grilling recipes!! Join Coach Crystal and Coach Ryan as they discuss menu curation, what foods to stay away from, and much more!

Spotify Link to the MetPro Method Podcast

I am joined by MetPro Coach Ryan McMullen. We are discussing how to prepare for any family barbecue, maybe even for Memorial Day. Thank you so much for joining me, Ryan.

Thanks for having me. I like the social event show.

I know I can always count on you whenever I ask for a topic. How do we get started choosing a menu for a family barbecue? Where do you even start with that? It's very overwhelming.

Whole ingredients are where you start. Rather than things that are mashed, thrown together, and you have like one big mash of a lot of different things going on, that's where you get into trouble. Whole ingredients, fruit, and even bread can be okay if you have carbs in your diet. People think bread is bad. We can go into a completely different conversation on why it's bad sometimes, especially depending on what you have the allotment for, carb-wise. Those whole bulk ingredients are what you want to focus on. It's whole proteins, whole carbs, whole veggies, and whole fats. Keep yourself away from the mashed stuff, the mashed potatoes, the dips, the sauces. That's where you get into trouble when it comes to barbecues, cooking, and things like that.

Ryan, how about our recipe page? Do we have it out on the MetPro Academy recipe page? Are there maybe some options that we could use to get started for that menu for the family barbecue?

In the recipes, you can command find on any computer or control find and search barbecue. That's one of my favorite things to do with our recipes page. You can do that with a crockpot if you want to cook in the crockpot. You can do that with a bunch of different keywords. That way, you're not aimlessly scrolling through this, or at least that's how I find recipes. The second piece for me is to follow these recipes to a T if they look good. It's something you like but using them more as a reference and maybe deciding to switch your veggie options or, No, I don’t want that protein. I want this one instead.

Those are the things that I would advise people to do when looking at a recipes page search keywords first. The second is to use them as a guide and reference and not necessarily follow them to cross the T's and dot the I's. It doesn't need to be dead on. There are some recipes in there that I like, especially for barbecue. If you search barbecue, you will find this. There are steak and veggie skewers. There's a barbecue pork recipe or a cheeseburger salad recipe. Those are great because you can apply those to what your family or friends are doing or the social gathering and make your own way through wherever you're at.

Let's take one and talk about how we could mix it up. What's your favorite of the lists that you have there?

I'll go with the cheeseburger salad recipe. This is a way that I like to do my burgers and keep them relatively low carb. Even if you have carbs in your diet and plan for them, you can have them from another source by doing this. The cheeseburger salad is great. It's going to be a great source of proteins, fats, and lots of veggies going on in there. It's simple because the burgers are already being cut. They're ready to go. They're there. I personally liked tweaking that, and rather than a salad, I like making that into lettuce wraps.

You can use butter lettuce or romaine lettuce. Romaine is great because it's going to have that crunch texture to it. It's got a great base for what to put your burger on. You can load that thing up with veggies. You can go with tomatoes, onions, or mushrooms. There are so many things that you can stack on there and make multiple burgers. Even if everyone is eating like your run-of-the-mill general buns, and you know they're onion buns or white bread buns, whatever they're eating, you can still have that burger feel good about it, but it's going to be a lot lower dense in carbs. It's still an enjoyable experience.

At the top of all the MetPro recipes, they always say, Here’s your breakdown. You get this many servings of carbs and fats. In this particular case, what are we looking at if we use the recipe as is?

If you follow the recipe to a T, you're getting two servings of protein, a serving of veggie carbs, and one serving of fat.

If we were to switch it up and use those lettuce wraps you suggested for the person who is new to this thought process, what are we switching out? Are we adding in a veggie carp? Is it the same because it's lettuce? Help us out with that.

Using the app can be rather beneficial. Something I talk with my clients about a lot, and this helps them in the future when they're not with MetPro or how to eat generally healthy, is to start identifying ingredients and where they're probably being applied to. When you look at a slice of cheese, for instance, you know it's going to have an element of protein and fat. There are going to be varying degrees of how little or how much you're having.

I want my clients to know like, There’s a little bit of protein and fat in there. In that way, if they can't use their app, or they're not with us as clients, or someone's not following MetPro necessarily, but they want to eat generally healthy, they're able to start at least looking at things and identifying what they contain.

If we're taking this recipe and modifying it, what I do as a coach is look at that and say, Our protein and fat are all coming from the patty, the ground beef, your cheddar cheese, and the avocado that is in that recipe. If you can identify those ingredients and pull 1 or 2 of those things out, you're not doing cheese. We're going to have to add some avocado or add a little bit more of that beef patty to meet your protein requirements.

You could use your app and say, My hamburger patty is going to be three ounces. You already know that's a serving. You could add in your protein. If you're taking out the cheese and say, I need to add this fourth ounce of a hamburger patty, you could build that in your app.

If you are building this in your app and eliminating the cheese, you're going to notice your protein requirement elevates. You need an additional half a serving of protein or a serving to come from that protein. You're going to know how many ounces of beef you end up needing.

Let's say you decide, I’m going to have this cheeseburger salad, but you have several people coming to your barbecue that is not into the hamburger salad. They want to have a traditional old-fashioned bun. What do you do? Do you provide the buns and do people have it as an option? How do you handle that?

There are a few ways to handle that. Number one, if you're the host, I would probably recommend gathering that information first. You don't want people coming to your house, providing something, and they're like, Where’s the actual burger buns? You probably want to gather the information. At least when I'm hosting events at my house, we ask, Do you like this? Does this sound good? Is there something else we can do? If you're going somewhere, they're going to provide whatever they're providing. You're picking and choosing from that.

Get some Intel on who's coming to your home and why. If people are looking for your generic Memorial Day food, burgers, hotdogs, or your typical stuff, provide and buy it. That's where the willpower's going to come into not eating your own meal and making it serve your goals, whether that's muscle gain or fat loss. Make sure that meal is something that's going to attribute to your goals and not pull them away.

Are there other things you could suggest adding to this cheeseburger salad, or if they're doing with lettuce wraps to round it out? Typically, when you think barbecue, you don't think of one menu item. What else can we add to it that people are going to feel still good about?

Free foods are the best. That brings to call some other like dips. There are veggie, fruit dips, or Greek yogurt that you can make. Those can be great side items or appetizer items that are a little bit healthier. All veggies are free food. You cannot eat too much broccoli, zucchini, or celery. All of those foods are so simple to have as appetizers. Veggie platters with a good quality dip that are healthy, not store-bought, but something you made is a great option to have.

In addition, if you have some carbs allotment in your diet, having a Memorial Day lunch or a dinner barbecue that's another great side item. It doesn't need to be worked into the meal itself. We think too often like, I have carbs. I get to have the burger with the bun. You don't need to. It's a great way to expand your palate a little bit more. Have the burger salad or the lettuce wrap burger.

For an appetizer, have your Greek yogurt-style dip with a bunch of veggies. If you have carbs in the diet, have a side of fruit. Who doesn't love a good side of watermelon with a good meal in Memorial Day cantaloupe or honeydew? There are so many great options that you can add to make your plate feel a little bit more full.

This sounds like a great meal. We've got cheeseburgers in a lettuce wrap or the salad. On the side, we have vegetables and a dip, and fruits. Is there anything else that you personally would use to wound this out? Do you feel like this is a good meal with us?

Stay away from the thrown-together where there are multiple ingredients in one. Potato salad is the greatest example. Don't get me wrong, who doesn't love potato salad? You're dealing with so many nutrients packed into a single bite. You're going to have high carbs and fat. If there's cheese in it or anything else, you're also dealing with more fats and proteins, which can offset your progress. It's sticking with those whole ingredients. For me, I'm sticking with fruits, veggies, and proteins.

What about apple salad? I'm asking for a friend.

It could be great. It depends on what goes on it. Can you make it healthy? Absolutely. If you have carbs in your diet, that's a great side of fruit where we get into the bad spaces or what sauces go in them.

It's mayo if my mom makes it.

What else goes into the apple salad? That's the key. If you're hosting, that's another great way to both prep something for who you're having over but also set aside something that's a little bit healthier for you.

That's a great way to do it. You could mix and match, not just for you but also for your guests. You have your options, but also the option for people who aren't necessarily going to be eating in a healthy manner, but you still want them to enjoy themselves.

Make that apple salad. Separate out half of it that you're not throwing in the mayo with or any of the other processed fats or sugars. You can separate half and make a little bit healthier options so that you can still have something similar, but it's not the same as what everyone else might be having.

Is there anything else that people should take into consideration as they're putting together their preparations for their big family barbecue?

Two things, number one is don't snack while you're making food. It's super tricky. I got reminded of this by a client. During all this food prep, I found out that they're taking little bites out of things here and there as they're prepping their food. It doesn't feel like a lot of the time. Maybe you have a small bite of this, but if you put it all together, that's where things can get dangerous. We can see some major weight swings and hang on to the food. It's not snacking while you're making it. I've said it in another show before, but I will say it again. Don't change anything leading up to the meal that day.

Follow your plan. Where people get into big trouble is they think like, This meal is going to be off-plan. It’s going to be more. I’m going to have more food and calories. They think, intuitively, it would make sense to us. We think like, I’ll not have my snack and my lunch leading up into that. That way, I can consume a little bit more for dinner. It's the worst thing you can do.

That's because you're going to go it hungrier if you don't eat your snack. You might be throwing off your blood sugar and making yourself hungry if you skip your snacks and might eat more.

There are two factors there, 1) Empty stomach and 2) Low blood sugar. That's what we're trying to avoid. An empty stomach alone can make you eat more. We feel better when our stomach is full, and there are so many different ways that we can do that via water. I encourage my clients all the time. They say, I’m hungry during this phase. I'm like, Are you really? Did you not drink water? We can fill up the stomach with content. If you skip those meals, the stomach is going to be a little bit empty. There's going to be more space to fit more in there, which means more compounded nutrients all happening at one time.

That's not as bad as going into something with low blood sugar. If you skip lunch and snack or your snack, for instance, that blood sugar is going to drop a little bit. Your body freaks out slightly. Those hunger pains start to kick in, and maybe a little bit of irritability. That's when the body craves those quick, simple carbohydrates, the simple sugars so that we can bring that blood sugar back up. You'll end up eating more. You'll be more likely to eat the treats, the processed stuff, the things that are going to get into your system fast and elevate that blood sugar back up.

The willpower goes out the window.

There is no willpower when someone hits hungry.

You're going to make bad decisions. It's a fact. That was a good reminder. Anything else to make sure people know as they make their preparations?

Food-wise, no, but we can touch on the alcohol if you'd like.

That's a tricky one, too, especially when you talk summer and barbecue, and it's been years since we've been able to let go with our family and friends. I'm a little worried about that myself.

I keep my recommendations pretty much the same, but I get the life balance part. If you drink, who doesn't like a good cold beer on a hot day, Memorial Day? You're outside, maybe by the pool. You're barbecuing. I'm painting a nice picture. Who doesn't like that stuff? Beer aside for a second, you're much better off with clear liquors, like vodka, gin, tequila, things you can mix with citrus and herbs and spices, and soda water. You can put those over ice. Those are still a great summer drink if you're going to have alcohol if the beer seems like it needs to happen.

You're in a group of people. You know it's going to happen, peer pressure, or that's what you want. I'm glad to see the space expanding a little bit in terms of beer. There are so many options these days for light beers that taste pretty good. This is coming from a guy that likes beer. I enjoy a beer from time to time. Ask me several years ago, and those light beers didn't quite do the trick. They were not quite there yet, but now there are many different light beers. One of my favorites that I tell my clients about is Corona Premier. I feel like they should sponsor us after this. That's one example of a beer that markets right on it, 2.4 grams of carbs.

It's very low. They're like 89 or 90 calories for a beer. If you have ten of them, that's a different story. We still need to deal with all of the calories from that. 1 or 2 of those is going to be less of an effect than a heavier beer. It's something like an IPA or a pale ale, something that's going to have 20 or 25 grams of carbs per beer. Look for those other options. That's what I tell my clients. If you're going to have the beer, look for those lower-calorie, lower-dense items because they exist now. They're good.

If you don't mind, if I make a recommendation, it's a non-alcoholic beer. In other words, it's not a beer, but it gives that same feel as a beer. I enjoy HOP WTR. It's not beer, but it has adaptogens in it. You get this relaxed feel, but it's not without the alcohol. It doesn't have any calories and carbs. Maybe that might be an option for some people.

That could be an option. That one came on my radar. You brought it up.

Somebody else brought it up, but I had tried it and liked it.

I couldn't remember which coach brought it up, but I remember it. I haven't tried it myself yet, but that's exactly what I mean. I'm excited about the space that the industry is concerned with people's health and knowing that people have concerns for their health. There are so many more options like HOP WTR, which has no calories and tastes like that hoppy flavor you're going to get from a good beer. It's going to have negative effects on your progress or what you're trying to achieve.

It's great to have options. It is. For people craving that sensation of that picture you painted a while ago, thirst can be quenched in many ways, so be open-minded and try new things. Something you've always done doesn't mean that you can't mix things up and try out some new things. Lots of great ideas, Ryan. Thank you so much.

You can find all the MetPro method episodes anywhere you get podcasts or go to Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what to expect. You can also learn more about MetPro at I will be back next episode. Until then, remember consistency is key.

Done with Dieting with MetPro

Others Found These Interesting

How to Overcome Training Obstacles: Training for a 21-Mile Race after a Concussion

How to Overcome Training Obstacles: Training for a 21-Mile Race after a Concussion

Do’s and Don’ts for Workouts

Do’s and Don’ts for Workouts

Overcoming Peer Pressure to Achieve Healthy Goals

Overcoming Peer Pressure to Achieve Healthy Goals

Weight Loss, Menopause, and MetPro: How Metabolic Profiling can Offset the Hormonal Changes from Menopause

Weight Loss, Menopause, and MetPro: How Metabolic Profiling can Offset the Hormonal Changes from Menopause

Browse All MetPro Academy Content