5 Tips You Need to Know – Eating a BBQ with Food Allergies


Are you ready to attend summer bbqs this summer? Having a peanut allergy or food allergy can make eating with friends difficult. I’ve got you covered with these 5 tips for eating safely at a bbq, while enjoying yourself.

How do you eat safely at a BBQ with food allergies?

When my son was first diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy we often skipped out on events like these. There are so many unknowns as the foods are often prepared by multiple people, purchased in bulk from the store, and we always ask the question “What can my son with a peanut allergy eat?”

I’ve been there and know the fears that come with eating at events. These events will be a part of my son’s life, they will never go away and I don’t want him to feel left out just because he has an allergy. We are learning to deal with nut allergies and have been teaching our son how to have a good time all while being safe with the food around him.

Are you ready to attend summer bbqs this summer? Having a peanut allergy or food allergy can make eating with friends difficult. I've got you covered with these 5 tips for eating safely at a bbq, while enjoying yourself.

  • Talk with the host before attending – If you are going to a summer event, more than likely it is being hosted by a friend. My husband and I talk to the host before attending and remind them about Andrew’s peanut allergy. I will often ask about what foods are planning to be served and if there will be foods there that are peanut and tree nut free. Most times the host will take extra precaution to use ingredients that don’t contain peanuts (or other allergens) or if they do have peanuts they will make sure we know so extra precaution can be taken on my part.
  • Bring “Safe” side dishes or desserts – Often times I will offer to bring a side or some festive cupcakes so that I know there will be a few things there that are safe to eat. Our child is a really picky eater anyways so this usually works in his favor.
  •  Take precaution on the grill – Some BBQ sauces will contain peanuts, thus leaving the grill cross contaminated. They make disposable liners for the BBQ that are great for avoiding food allergens. Simply place the liner on the grill, have your food cooked and then it can be thrown away.
  • Eat before you go – If we are going to a BBQ that will be covered with desserts that contain peanuts, or a wedding where you don’t really feel comfortable asking for accommodations, we will often feed Andrew before going. It’s better to fill his belly up beforehand and then we only have to think about snacks, rather than a meal.
  • Bring Snacks – This goes with the tip above. If we are there for a long time at an event that has very questionable food, we will bring peanut free snacks like fresh fruit, some carrot sticks, maybe some crackers or a small treat. 

With these tips we have been able to bring our peanut allergy child to many summer events. While we still have fear of “what if” we know that with the proper precautions a great time can be had all while being safe.


16 thoughts on “5 Tips You Need to Know – Eating a BBQ with Food Allergies

  • June 22, 2017 at 3:42 am
    I'm having a BBQ Garden party in two weeks and I'm out looking for inspiration. I was thinking Pork, but I want to make it special. This is my first party in my new home (I just moved to Stockholm), and I want to to stand out. I'm no expert chef, but I like to cook. Thanks for this post and the inspiration. Much needed ;-) Reply
  • May 25, 2017 at 5:50 am
    Just take a look at all the other dishes being served. Potlucks are always problematic for food-allergic folks, but there are ways to make them a little more manageable. For example, if you can, enlist the host’s help to try to position the dishes with food allergens in them at the end of the serving table, so that the safe food gets served first, reducing the chance that anyone will drip sour cream or grated cheese onto the milk-free grilled zucchini. Separating the food allergen dishes from the safe dishes also helps prevent spoon-sharing between dishes. Reply
    • May 27, 2017 at 9:25 am
      That's a great tip as well! Thank you for sharing :) Reply
  • May 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm
    This is great! I have a mild food allergy and I never thought of some of these. Reply
  • June 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm
    We don't have any serious food allergies in my family but this is a great post to raise awareness. It also helps me to be more considerate towards those that do have those allergies and may be attending my function. Reply
  • June 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm
    Fortunately, my son does not have a peanut allergy but I recently learned that a friend's daughter has one. We had invited them to our son's first birthday party and she called me in advance to let me know - she covered many of the points you mentioned. Not many changes were required to our menu and we had already ordered the cake from a peanut-free bakery - we like their baking to start with! Thanks for the info and it's good food for thought for many parents whose children do not have allergies. Reply
  • June 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm
    your posts are always so informative, eating before you go is a great idea, but what fun is that? I'm glad i'm not allergic to peanuts! Reply
  • June 7, 2012 at 9:50 am
    My very good friend has a peanut allergy and it is so scary. She has to watch what she eats so carefully. This article is a good reminder to me to be sensitive to food allergies when I host a party. Thank you! Reply
    • June 7, 2012 at 11:12 am
      Being your good friend, food allergies are something you will probably become accustomed to as well :) My friends take his peanut allergy as second nature and takes precautions almost as well as I do being the mommy. Peanut allergies are a serious thing and when learning how to live with them it's hard for the parents as well. Over time things will be second nature and you will know how to handle get togethers, birthday parties, eating out etc. My only advice? Be supportive and understanding about any concerns your friend has. A lot of things seem like overboard to an outsider, but peanut allergies can be fatal and taking extra steps to avoid cross contamination is something we have to do to keep our kiddos safe. Reply
  • June 7, 2012 at 8:37 am
    This is really great feedback. Though I don't have a child with a food allergy (that we know of, since they are still infants), I thought the way you handled it by letting people know, but still being extra-prepared and including your son in the fun... it was fascinating! Reply
  • June 7, 2012 at 8:23 am
    These are some great tips! Most of the time, I dread taking my tree nut allergic daughter to events where food will be served. I do have some fabulous friends who go out of their way to accomodate Rylie, but not everyone does this, nor do I expect them to. If I go to an event where I don't know the host well, I make sure I take safe food for Rylie to eat. I also bake cupcakes to take with us to every birthday party we go to. The biggest problem I have is that so many people don't understand food allergies and will tell you something is "nut free" without regard for cross contamination issues. I was told repeatedly by a friend that her daughter's birthday cake was coming from a specialty bakery and she was told by the owner that the cake was nut free. I called the bakery myself and found that while the cake ingredients did not contain nuts, she could not guarantee that there were no risks of cross contamination. Needless to say, I brought cupcakes for my daughter. :-) Food allergies can be tough to deal with, especially with little kids like ours. I'm sure it has become a way of life for your son and your family, just like it has for ours. I do hate for my little girl to be left out, though. LeeAnn recently posted..The Best Slumber Party Ever! Reply
    • June 7, 2012 at 11:07 am
      You are right, not everyone is accepting to making accommodations but it's worth talking to them to see if they will. Some events are harder than others but we have found there are ways around them. I recently visited a friend house and asked if we could please use separate spoons for the dishes that were being offered. Someone there had actually gave me a nasty look and told me that I was being paranoid. Many people don't understand food allergies and it's one of those things that they won't understand until they have been there. My son hasn't been to too many birthday parties, however I do plan to send cupcakes along with him. Perhaps those cupcakes will help another child that is there with an allergy too :) All else fails? Bring a cup of mac n cheese, some snacks, and let people look at you funny. At least your child is being protected and still there to have a good time. Heck we have even taken McDonalds into a restaurant before because we had a dinner party with some friends, the restaurant wasn't very accommodating on the phone when I called before hand so I said to heck with them! Reply
      • June 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm
        I cannot believe someone told you that you were being paranoid! Apparently they have never had to watch their small child struggle to breathe as their face and throat swells up from eating a food they are allergic to. Ugh. That makes me so mad! I have given up on caring what people think. I don't ever apologize for asking a gazillion questions about the food, and I just won't let my kid eat it if I'm not 100% sure it is safe. If someone thinks I am being a pain or "just being paranoid" I try to explain to them that a food allergy isn't like being allergic to a cat. My kid won't just sneeze for a few minutes...her throat will swell shut and she won't be able to breathe. That usually gets them to back off. ;-) LeeAnn recently posted..The Best Slumber Party Ever! Reply
  • June 7, 2012 at 6:27 am
    I never had to deal with a peanut allergy but as a host of many outdoor bbq's, you have left me with some things to think about. I will definitely be more conscientious about what im serving and will make an effort to let people know if anything dangerous may be used Reply

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