Heading to a barbecue with family and friends is a Kiwi summer institution.

But grabbing everything you need for the chilly bin can be a daunting task when you're trying to make sure every product has as much real food in it as possible.

So Wendyl Nissen headed to the supermarket on a mission to find some of our favourite barbecue foods with the least additives in them.

KB's Prawn Skewers Garlic. $18 for 500g.

KB's Prawn Skewers Garlic.
KB's Prawn Skewers Garlic.

These are pricey but handy to grab from the freezer.

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All the hard work of threading prawns on skewers and putting together a marinade is done for you, without too many additives.

You'll get 10 skewers with five prawns on each and ingredients are all real food: prawn, garlic, parsley chilli flakes, vegetable oil, salt, cornflour and the mineral salt diphosphate (451). Other frozen prawn products can contain sulphite preservatives.

Tip: Some studies have found that prawns can harbour bacteria so make sure you defrost in the fridge to keep them cool then cook them thoroughly.

Freedom Farms Classic Pork sausages. $9.99 for 450g.

Freedom Farms Classic Pork Sausages.
Freedom Farms Classic Pork Sausages.

The secret to finding a good sausage in the supermarket is to avoid any who use the word "flavoured" on their packet.

You are unlikely to find a high percentage of meat in there.

These pork sausages are from pigs farmed without cages, crates or pens so, though they might be more expensive, you are supporting a producer who treats pigs humanely.

All sausages will contain preservatives and fillers.

These are 75 per cent pork - others available were as low as 62 per cent meat, not exclusively pork. They also had added colour, artificial flavour and were very high in salt.

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Other ingredients found in these sausages were rice flour, vegetable fibre, potato starch, herbs and spices, acidity regulator (diphosphate), dehydrated vegetables, preservative (sodium metabisulphite (223)), antioxidant ascorbic acid (300)) and edible casing which is probably made out of cellulose.

They also had about half the sodium content of the other sausages available.

If you're looking for a sausages with more meat and less additives, ask at your local butcher or specialty store as there are some good independent butchers making very good products.

Tip: Instead of buying pre-cooked sausages which are not great quality, just learn to cook sausages slowly on the barbecue at the back of the grill to give them time to cook right through.

Rangitikei Free Range Rosemary Garlic and Lemon flavoured kebabs. $14.99 for 8 kebabs.

Rangitikei Free Range CHicken Kebabs.
Rangitikei Free Range CHicken Kebabs.

Flavoured chicken kebabs are a popular choice judging by the number of products available in the supermarket fridge.

The thing to watch out for with this product is the use of artificial flavour and artificial colour which I found in some of the other products available.

These use free range chicken so that's a plus - knowing that the chicken you are consuming has been raised humanely.

They also feature natural flavouring (lemon), no added colour and only a few additives in the form of acidity regulators citric acid (330) and sodium acetate (262) as well as a natural thickener (xanthan gum (415)).

Tip: It's really easy to make your own real food marinade. Simply squeeze the juice of a lemon, some olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper over your kebabs and leave in the fridge for a few hours before cooking.

Al Brown Prime Angus Beef Patties. $10.19 for 6 x 100g patties.

Al Brown Beef Patties.
Al Brown Beef Patties.

Sometimes burgers are the easiest way to go at a barbecue, but finding a patty without a host of additives is a very hard job indeed.

These patties were the only ones I could find with just a few natural ingredients: beef (87 per cent), onion, rice flour, natural vinegar, chilli, herbs, spices.

Others on offer had preservatives, breadcrumbs to fill them out, sugar, emulsifiers, acidity regulators, colour, smoke flavour and flavour enhancers including MSG.

Tip: You can make your own patties by simply mixing 500g of good mince (with plenty of fat in it so they don't dry out) with 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs, ½ cup of breadcrumbs and a beaten egg. Form into patties and coat with rice flour.

Vital Vegetables Vitalbones slaw.

Vitalbones Coleslaw.
Vitalbones Coleslaw.

Grabbing a bag of coleslaw for the barbecue is the easiest salad option and many of them now feature a small bag of dressing inside.

This salad contains a great variety of cabbage, kale, celery, spring onion and parsley and the dressing had the least artificial ingredients in it.

Others on offer contained preservatives, thickeners, modified starch and humectant.

This dressing had all-natural ingredients such as rice vinegar, soy sauce and lemon juice, and instead of sugar used the natural no-calorie sweetener stevia.

Tip: Opt for a simple bag of coleslaw without the dressing ( or throw it out) and for a 500g bag simply squeeze over the juice of a lemon, ½ teaspoon sesame oil and some salt and pepper for a crisp Asian style coleslaw. You can also stir in some finely chopped fresh chilli and toasted sesame seeds.

Bluebird Ready Salted Chips. $2 for 150g.

Bluebird Ready Salted Chips.
Bluebird Ready Salted Chips.

I have never seen anyone at a barbecue turn their nose up at a bowl of normal unflavoured chips, so why not opt for these instead of other offerings that can contain artificial flavours.

These have three simple ingredients: potatoes, oil and salt.

Tip: If you're in a hurry just look for the chips in the red packaging, they are usually the ones without flavours added.

Lisa's Original Hummus with Garlic and Lemon. $3 for 200g.

Lisa's Original Hummus.
Lisa's Original Hummus.

Hummus is a simple offering made out of chickpeas, tahini and oil, which is what you will find in this one - with the addition of lemon juice, sea salt, garlic, pepper, an antioxidant (Vitamin E) and a preservative (potassium sorbate (202)).

Others on offer in the fridge included flavour, food acid and stabilisers.

Tip: To make your own hummus simply drain a 400g can chickpeas then tip into a food processor with 2 Tbsp olive oil (or avocado oil), 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, 1 Tbsp tahini (if you have it otherwise omit), the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper. Process until smooth. To add extra flavour you can mix in chopped herbs, such as parsley, or some feta with some finely chopped fresh mint, or a little chilli with a sprinkle of cumin and coriander powder.

Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup.$6.79 for 500ml.

Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup.
Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup.

I chose this product over the many others on offer because it used organically grown tomatoes and had simple ingredients such as tomatoes (77 per cent), organic sugar, salt, organic white vinegar (from wheat), natural flavour and spice.

Others on offer used less tomatoes and ingredients like food acids, treacle, thickener, acidity regulators, artificial flavour, preservative and antioxidants.

Tip: If you are trying to reduce salt and sugar, Watties have low salt and low sugar options available for you with quite simple ingredients.

Barker's Barbecue Jerk Sauce. $3.80 for 330g.

Barker's Barbecue Jerk Sauce.
Barker's Barbecue Jerk Sauce.

Barbecue sauce is generally made out of tomatoes and vegetables with some sugar, vinegar and flavourings. So it was good to find this New Zealand-made sauce which used tomatoes, lime juice, prune juice, raisins and onion as well as molasses, golden syrup and two thickeners: cornstarch and xathan gum.

Others on offer had artificial flavour, colour and smoke flavour and were also made mainly of tomatoes.

Tip: Don't just use barbecue sauce on meat - you can also use it as a great salad dressing for a Mexican salad or at breakfast on bacon and eggs.

Edmonds Whole Egg Mayonnaise. $3.50 for 350g.

Edmonds WHole Egg Mayonnaise.
Edmonds WHole Egg Mayonnaise.

This mayonnaise contained just the simple ingredients you would use if you made it at home - sunflower oil, eggs, white vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, lemon juice and garlic. There is an antioxidant in the sunflower oil and two food acids.

Other mayonnaise products on offer had unnamed vegetable oils or soybean and canola oil, colours, preservatives, thickeners and stabilisers.

Tip: Make a quick tartare sauce for fish by mixing 200ml mayonnaise with 3 Tbsp chopped capers, 3 Tbsp finely chopped gherkins, 1 finely chopped small onion, 3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley and salt and pepper.

Heinz Seriously Good Balsamic with Roasted Garlic Dressing. $4 for 250ml.

Heinz Balsamic Vinegar.
Heinz Balsamic Vinegar.

To make a balsamic dressing at home you would use balsamic vinegar, oil and some natural flavours like salt, pepper and garlic.

This has all of those but also adds a preservative (sulphur dioxide (220)), antioxidant (Vitamin E (307b)) and a food acid (acetic acid (260) otherwise known as vinegar).

So it is not quite a real food offering I was hoping for, but it is far better than the other choices which had stabilisers, rice syrup, thickener, flavour and colour added.

Tip: When summer is over use this dressing to pour over vegetables before roasting.

Instead of reaching for a super-sized bottle of Coke or Fanta why not try these two local drinks to keep the ingredients simple.

Taha Sparkling Tonic. $9.99 for four 330ml bottles.

Taha Tonic.
Taha Tonic.

New Zealand-made and a lovely ginger/herbal brew it is too for a non-alcoholic addition to any barbecue.

The only ingredients in it are water, organic ginger beer flavour, natural ginger flavour, manuka honey extract, kawakawa extract, lemon juice and citric acid.

Höpt Soda Watermelon and Mint. $6.99 for four 330ml bottles.

Hopt Watermelon and Mint Soda.
Hopt Watermelon and Mint Soda.

This is one of quite a few non-alcoholic drinks produced by beer giant Lion.

It is quite low in sugar - at 16.2g, or four teaspoons of sugar per 330ml serve - compared to other soft drinks and contains water, sugar, watermelon juice, natural fermented rice extract, natural flavours, citric acid, preservative (potassium sorbate (202), mint extract, hop extract and natural colour (grapeskin extract).

Note: All items were bought at a Countdown supermarket on December 9. Stock items often differ between supermarkets and change, but on the day these were the best offerings Wendyl could find.