A Cookout Shopping List for a Stress-Free Labor Day Celebration

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA  

Labor Day marks the end of the summer and for me it almost always feels bitter sweet. I think, “Where did the summer go?” and at the same time “I can’t wait for the leaves to change ”. With endless trips to the beach, outdoor grilling and fun with family and friends you may have thought the summer festivities would never end! Let’s take advantage of these last few weeks of great weather with a stress-free Labor Day celebration!


Easy Cookout ideas:

Easy to prepare proteins like beef and fish as well as veggies work great on the grill – they’re easy, fast and delicious. But don’t think that fish is your only healthy option; lean protein, such as lean beef and poultry, provide essential nutrients to fuel activity and also help people consume more essential nutrients in fewer calories, while balancing their food intake with physical activity.  Vegetarian? No problem, grill firm or extra firm tofu on a well-greased grill grate; see recipe below.


Cheap & Healthy cookout tips for large groups:

  • Baked potato bar: Russet potatoes, sautéed onions, chopped cooked veggies, light sour cream, chives, shredded light cheese
  • Pasta Dishes: Pasta primavera and baked pasta dishes
  • Veggie skewers: zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, onion, tomato
  • Hummus & Other Bean dips such as white bean dip
  • Stretch your meats by incorporating them into fajitas or tacos

Grilling Tip!

Don’t forget to marinate in order to maximize flavor and tenderness. Tender cuts of beef can marinate for 15 minutes to two hours for flavor. Less tender cuts, such as Flank, should be marinated for 6 hours, but not more than 24 hours.


Flat Iron Steaks with Grilled Corn & Cumin-lime Butter

Turn these delicious steaks into tacos by slicing thin and filling corn tortillas!


  • 4 Beef Flat iron Steaks (about 8 ounces each)
  • 6 ears fresh sweet corn, in husks
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 medium poblano pepper
  • 1 small red finger chili pepper or Serrano pepper
  • Lime wedges
  • Salt & Ground black pepper


  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper



  1. Pull back husks from corn, leaving husks attached. Remove and discard corn silk. Bring husks back up around corn; tie in place with kitchen string or strips of corn husk. Soak corn in cold water 30 minutes or up to several hours.
  2. Combine rub ingredients. For Cumin-Lime Butter, combine 2 teaspoons rub mixture, butter and lime juice in small bowl; set aside. Press remaining rub evenly onto beef steaks. Cover and refrigerate steaks 30 minutes.
  3. Remove corn from water. Place on grid over medium, ash-covered coals; grill, covered, 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. About 15 minutes before corn is done, move ears to outer edge of grid. Place poblano and finger chili pepper in center of grid; grill poblano pepper 10 to 15 minutes and chili pepper 5 minutes or until skins are completely blackened, turning occasionally. Place peppers in food-safe plastic bag; close bag. Set aside.
  4. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 10 to 14 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
  5. Remove and discard husks from corn. Cover and refrigerate 2 steaks, 2 ears of corn and grilled peppers to use in corn tortillas. Carve remaining 2 steaks into slices. Squeeze lime wedges over beef, as desired. Spread Cumin-Lime Butter over remaining 4 ears corn. Season beef and corn with salt and black pepper, as desired.  


Nutrition information per serving: 333 calories; 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 6 g monounsaturated fat); 86 mg cholesterol; 84 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrate; 3.2 g fiber; 25 g protein; 4.8 mg niacin; 0.4 mg vitamin B6; 5 mcg vitamin B12; 3.6 mg iron; 33 mcg selenium; 8.1 mg zinc.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc; and a good source of fiber.

Recipe: Beefitswhatsfordinner.com


Tandoori Tofu

Makes: 6 Servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 2 teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 (14 ounce) packages extra-firm or firm water packed tofu, drained
  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons sliced scallions or chopped fresh cilantro for garnish



  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, coriander and turmeric in a small bowl. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, lime-juice and the spic mixture; cook, stirring, until sizzling and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  3. Slice each tofu block crosswise into 6 slices; pat dry. Use about 3 tablespoons of the spiced oil to brush both sides of the tofu slices; sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoons salt. (Reserve the remaining spiced oil).
  4. Oil the grill rack (see tip). Grill the tofu until it has grill marks and is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  5. Combine yogurt with the reserved spiced oil in a small bowl. Serve the grilled tofu with the yogurt sauce, garnished with scallions (or cilantro), if desired.


Nutrition Per serving: 173 Calories; 13 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 7 g Mono; 1 mg Cholesterol; 6 g Carbohydrates; 12 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 419 mg Sodium; 224 mg Potassium

Kitchen Tip: To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Recipe: eatingwell.com