Tailgating on the Cheap
Football fans, soccer moms, and Jimmy Buffet concert-goers alike typically like throwing tailgating events. While it’s certainly possible to drop some serious cash on tailgate treats and the tools used to prepare them, tailgating on the cheap is equally possible. Here are a handful of tips for doing just that. (See also: 47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend)
I love a good grilled lobster tail as much as the next gal, but if you’re looking to feed a hungry crowd without going outside your usual grocery budget parameters, it’s important to have some tailgating menu ideas more suited to simple dining. Try using boxed wine for a large batch of sangria or whipping up a selection of dips for cut veggies. One dip that’s always been a huge hit at this house is a layered Mexican dip that can be enjoyed with tortilla chips. Looking for a fun alternative to blender drinks? These porter floats from Southern Living provided an unexpected way to serve beer.
Skip the Food Trailer
For whatever reason, some people think it isn’t permissible to participate in the tailgating scene without having all of the fancy tow-behind grilling rigs and food trailers. While the pastime may have morphed into something many consider an extreme sport, the reality is it started out as a simple way to have something to eat without leaving where you are to hunt down a restaurant. Many vehicles come with at least one electrical outlet towards the back, providing the perfect solution for enjoying your favorite grilled sandwich recipes hot off the press. Paired with iced tea, lemonade, and a few prepared snacks, this is a great way to enjoy a hot meal with the kids between soccer games or after a day of water skiing. If you don’t have a sandwich press or even a small grill, single-use grills with charcoal included can be purchased. EZ Grill makes a kind that looks like it could be a family-sized lasagna from the freezer section. If you’re not sure if grilling out is your thing, this is an affordable way to test-drive the activity.
If you want to keep things on track for a special tailgating event but don’t want to have to spend the entire afternoon preparing snacks out of the back of your truck bed, consider preparing some things in advance such as homemade cookies or dips in wide-mouth pint canning jars to keep the focus more on enjoying your time at the event. You can certainly plug your rice cooker into the back or get some veggie kabobs ready in advance to slap on a portable grill if you like, but the point is not to plan anything too technical. Otherwise, you run the risk of removing all of the fun for yourself.
Parties and Picnics
It’s not necessary to always worry about feeding an entire sports team every time you plan on serving food from the back of your vehicle. You can throw a cheap party by tailgating by keeping things small with just a few friends at the beach or using tailgating as a lower-stress meal option for a family day in the mountains.
Tailgating on the cheap is possible no matter what message to the contrary you might pick up from the Food Network or HGTV. Just come up with a menu you can handle. Go for the tried-and-true family faves for guaranteed success, and try some new things out at home before your next big tailgating adventure. You’ll be able to keep things fresh without risking an untried recipe on the big day.