Late summer brings the unofficial start of fall tailgating season! Here are some helpful tips and tricks to make you a tailgate pro at your next outing.
Professional Cooler Packing
It may seem silly, but there’s an art and a science involved in packing a cooler to keep it cold inside. To keep your food safe and your guests happy, here are some tailgating tricks and tips for the cooler:
- Keep two (or even three) coolers: one for drinks and/or cooked food, and one for raw food.
- Only add pre-cooled items to the cooler; warm cans and bottles will increase the temperature inside the cooler and make it harder to keep everything cold.
- Pro Tip: Pre-freeze bottled water to help keep the cooler cold, and enjoy ice cold water when it thaws.
- For drinks, layer the bottom of the cooler with cans, then a layer of ice. Add more cans, bottles, or closed containers on top, always using ice to fill in gaps and spaces. The more full the cooler is, the colder it will stay.
- If you’re bringing any food in zip-top bags, place those on the very top layer in the cooler so the bags don’t burst.
- Pre-slice toppings and store in stackable tins with lids.
- Make sure any raw food is sealed in leak-proof, airtight containers.
These tips should help keep your food safe and your drinks cold…perfect conditions for a great tailgating party!
- Arrive several hours early, so you have time to cook, eat and clean up before the game starts.
- If using coals, be sure to allow enough time for them to cool. Dump hot coals in a metal bucket or hot coal bin offered at the stadium. You can also place hot coals in an aluminum tin with small holes poked in the bottom, then douse with leftover ice and water from the coolers. Or avoid hot coals altogether with a portable gas grill.
- Bring an extra lidded bin to hold all used utensils for transporting home to wash.
- Tie a bundle of helium balloons to your car so friends can easily find you. Get them cheap at the dollar store.
- Attach small magnets to your drink cozies so you can stick your drink to your car when you need an extra hand. Test magnets first to make sure they’re strong enough to hold a full can or bottle.
- Use upside down cupcake liners with a straw poked through the center to make a lid and keep insects out of your drink.
- Consider tailgating after the game to keep the party going and avoid post-game traffic.
- Use a pop-up hamper lined with a trash bag for a makeshift space-saving garbage can.
- Toss fresh sage or rosemary on the coals to act as natural insect repellent.
- Don’t forget your tickets!
To make your tailgate party memorable, think about your guest list and what types of food they’ll enjoy most. Is this a finger food crowd, or are they cheering, “Go gourmet!” instead? Luckily for you, tailgate recipes are plentiful, and you can find them all over the internet. Here are just a few suggestions:
- The supermarket chain Publix has a great collection of tailgate recipes, like Bistro Turkey Sliders and Pretzel-Crusted Hot Dogs!
- Find classic recipes from tailgating.com, like Buffalo Chicken Dip and Pigs in a Blanket.
- If barbecue is more your style, check out barbecuebible.com for simple standouts like Sesame Soy Chicken Wings and Bacon Maple Grilled Onion Rings.
- You can always count on FoodNetwork.com for some interesting and easy ideas, like Charleston Cheese Dip and Salted Caramel Cheesecake Squares.
- At allrecipes.com, you can find Spicy Shredded Barbecue Beef and Loaded Baked Potato Dip.
- Finally, the folks over at CountryLiving.com have pulled together their favorites, like Brown Sugar Sriracha Bacon Bites and Charred Corn Salad.
See anything you like? If so, don’t forget to send an invite…or at least some pictures!