Tailgating these days just might be one of America’s favorite pastimes. And it’s a long way from tinfoiled sandwiches and warm beer that it used to be. Spice up your stadium prep with these helpful hacks, and you’ll score big points with your fellow fans for years to come.
Make a list. Check it twice. Red cups, sunblock, hand sanitizer, trash bags, tin foil, and plenty of paper towels. Whatever your preferred gear might be, make a master checklist, and keep it somewhere safe—it is sure to come in handy at some point in the season!
Shop in advance. Big game this weekend, right? Well, you aren’t the only one who’ll want to catch it. Stock up on the basic necessities a few days before, and leave your game day run for fresh and chilled items only.
Prep everything possible the night before. Chop your veggies, chill your beverages, and set out your tools the night before. Use plastic baggies and airtight containers to stage all of your ingredients and goodies, so you can simply grab and go on the big day!
Mind your menu. Proper planning can ensure a delicious, nutritious, and filling meal for your fellow fans—without spending your entire tailgate hunched over the grill. Some of our best recipes pack well, and can be prepped the night before, while others require minimal on-site assembly. Want the Ultimate Tailgating Menu?
Know thy grill. Whether you’re using gas or charcoal, clean and prep your grill the day prior to set-up. Pro tip: Follow these great grilling guidelines for best results. And, no matter what anyone tells you—don’t oil the grate! Simply brush meats and veggies with flavorful extra virgin olive oil prior to grilling, to prevent sticking and lock in moisture.
Keep your cool. Pack and label your coolers properly, to keep food and drinks at the ideal temperature. We suggest separating your coolers into three categories: one for meats, one for food items which must remain chilled, and one for drinks.
For smaller parties (or minimalists) proper layering of the cooler is key; just line the bottom with pre-chilled beverages (or even better— frozen bottles of water or Gatorade, which will help you stay hydrated after a long day), then cover with a layer of ice prior to loading with sealed containers, another layer of ice, and then packaged items you’ll use quickly (such as hotdogs or sandwich meats).
Pro tip: a cooler can also be used to keep hot foods hot—just follow this simple tutorial from Well Done.
Craft a condiment carrier. You just filled a cooler with craft beers, right? Repurpose those empty cardboard sixers and you’ll have the perfect condiment carriers. Bring along flavorful staples like hot sauce, salt and pepper, balsamic, and extra virgin olive oil, all while reducing your impact on the environment. Win-win!Pro tip: you can also stock up on easy grab-and-go condiments, like these squeeze packs of Bellucci Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They make cleanup a breeze, and store well for future excursions.
Bring on the bins. Disposables are so out of style these days. Plus, tailgating with proper dishware makes an epic meal easier. We bring our clean dishes, silverware, and other tools in a giant plastic bin, then line it with a trash bag (or two) so it serves double-duty when transporting dirties back home. Stackable bins also make hauling your trash and recyclables easy, so you can pack it all out, like a champion!
Get your groove on. Pack a portable speaker, and put some thought into your tailgating playlist. Your guests will appreciate the good vibes! Pro tip: download and save your music selections a few days before, and you’ll preserve both your bandwidth and peace of mind.
Don’t forget the juice. Make sure you pack a battery booster and extra cord for your phone, so you can still snap the big game. And, make sure you’ve got access to jumper cables, just in case —you don’t want to end an epic day stranded!
Now that you’ve got your head in the game—go forth! And host an amazing tailgate gathering your friends and family are sure to remember.
Need some edible inspiration? We’ve made the food selection and prep a no-brainer. Check out our Ultimate Tailgating Menu—and Pour More!