How to Host a Tailgate Party on a Budget
The party in the parking lot before a big football game is a tradition for more than 24 million people each year; but with tickets, gas, food, drinks and team outfits it can get expensive. Here’s how to host a tailgate party that gets you into the game-time spirit without a major budget fumble.
Invest in Tailgating Supplies
The good news is you can use coupon codes for tailgating supplies like pop-up canopies, folding chairs and other camping equipment basics. Weather resistance and warmth are really all you need for shelter. Now is also the time to pick up some Bluetooth speakers to get everyone fired up. Shop sales at athletic stores like Dick’s and Sports Authority and the NFL Store for good deals on team jerseys, jackets, hats and fun stuff like foam fingers.
Good Game, Good Eats
Cheap tailgating food does mean sacrificing quality. It means sharing costs, shopping grocery sales and preparing homemade staples. If you are cooking for a crowd, barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers on a portable or disposable grill is easy and fun. Have everyone chip in or provide an easy side dish such as mac and cheese, cole slaw and chips. Make sure someone brings ice to keep things cold.
Presentation is a second-string player at pre-party festivities; taste is everything. Think simple and delicious. If you haven’t developed a signature dish, check out the many tailgating blogs and cookbooks. That way you’ll get a feel for how long the cooking process takes, when to turn meats on the coals, and how grandpa’s BBQ sauce tastes on those baby backs.
Think of your vehicle as a restaurant on wheels and take a food safety tip from professional chefs: make sure hot food stays hot and cold food stays below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Parking lot veterans love these MVPs:
- A good meat thermometer – Internal meat temperature is important. Invest in a digital thermometer that tells you when your food is ready. This make it easier to follow the pregame show uninterrupted.
- Two coolers – These can be inexpensive styrofoam types. Use one to hold raw meats and the other for cooling side dishes to avoid cross-contamination.
- Two bags of ice – Set aside one just for drinks and one for keeping perishable food at a safe temperature.
- Plastic serveware and drinkware – They’re more sanitary when you’re sharing all those tailgating treats, and they make disposal easy.
- Plenty of trash bags – Not only should you leave no trace behind (especially if you’re cheering the visiting team), but leftover food can attract pests.
Planning ahead will make your football tailgating experience go more smoothly and save you money. Start planning your menu and order needed supplies right now, and use coupon codes to save money on the essentials – you’ll become a die-hard fan!