Food Ideas for Tailgate Parties

Hosting tailgate parties can be lots of fun if you want food, convenience, and affordability. By serving easy to eat foods, such as appetizers and miniature versions of dishes, you can have a great tailgate party that won’t break the bank.

Some food ideas for tailgate parties include:

Homemade pizza bites can be easy to make and they keep fresh for several hours. To make pizza bites, you will need some sort of bread as a base. you can buy dough (including dough for crescent rolls, pizza, etc.), or you can make your own. However, to make this tailgate party food easier to make, it’s suggested that you buy the dough instead. Then you can add toppings such as bell peppers, pepperoni, chicken, etc. Perhaps the best part about homemade pizza bites is that they are completely customizable, so you and your friends and family can have fun together before the tailgate party, too.

Buffalo wings are great even though they are a messier finger food. But, because you can make buffalo wings ahead of time, they can be a terrific finger food for tailgate parties. Use smaller sized chicken wings and drumsticks to keep each serving small. Make the buffalo sauce mild so that everyone can enjoy this appetizer. Alternatively, you can keep the buffalo sauce separate from the chicken wings and drumsticks, so that you can make a couple of sauces in differing spiciness.

If you are making blue cheese dressing for the buffalo wings, you might even pack some baby carrots and celery sticks. If you want more vegetable snacks at your next tailgate party, bring baby carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, etc., as well as a small container of peanut butter and other dips.

Mini sandwiches can be another good addition to your tailgate party. Whole sandwiches might get your guests too full too fast, but miniature sandwiches will leave enough room for the other food. Try cutting the bread into fun shapes if you are having kids at the party. Use cookie cutters to cut both the bread and the cheese/sliced meat. A fun idea would be to keep the sandwich fixings in separate containers so that your guests can put their sandwiches together. Keep the mayonnaise in a separate container and don’t forget to bring the mustard and ketchup.

When you are planning your tailgate party, remember to keep it simple and keep the food convenient and inexpensive. Add a little bit more fun to your party by making the food customizable, too.

Cook with a Kitchenette

My first apartment was a 1000 square feet of space that I shared with seven other women. It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchenette. The apartment was on a college campus, and I was not allowed to look at it before I made my deposit. I was very surprised to learn that the kitchenette contained only a small refrigerator, microwave, and two outlets for other small appliances. There was no range or oven, and a very limited amount of counter, drawer, and cabinet space. Unfortunately, I had already opted out of a campus meal plan while under the mistaken belief that I could easily prepare meals in my apartment. With nothing else to do, I taught myself how to cook with only a kitchenette.

My first step was to add a few items to what was given to me. I bought a small toaster oven and a hot plate. This purchase cost me less than $40 ($20 per appliance at the back-to-school sale at my nearby mass merchandiser), but if I had more money I would have bought a small convection oven (about $80). These items, combined with a frying pan, sauce pot, measuring cup, a set of plastic storage containers, and two big plastic spoons (one slotted, one not) were all of the specialty cooking equipment I needed. I also had two place settings of dishes (dinner plate, bowl, glass, and saucer) and four sets of silverware.

To stock the fridge each week, I started by figuring out a few menus that I knew I could make. Since I was sharing the fridge with seven other people, I wanted to make sure that I bought as little as possible, and that what I did buy would not produce any objectionable smells. I could store shelf stable goods in my room, so I decided to go with canned fruits and vegetables whenever possible. As a group, my roommates and I decided to keep some staples on hand such as butter and milk that everyone could use (as these items would often disappear and not be replaced, however, I quickly learned to just stock them on my own).

To make menu planning simple, I planned to cook a few similar meals every month. Breakfast was typically cereal or a granola bar (I’ve never been a big fan of breakfast). Lunch was a sandwich and a piece of fruit or a chicken salad. The most complicated part of this was the grilled chicken breast. To make it, I would buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale (deboning chicken when you have roommates and spotty garbage service should be avoided). These would usually come in giant packages, but since I had very little time during the week I would cook all my chicken on Saturdays. I could get three pieces in my frying pan, and I would flat grill them with the hot plate. I would then cut five of the chicken breasts into small pieces and wrap each piece separately in plastic wrap. To make a salad in the morning, I just cut up lettuce and tomatoes, added shredded cheese, and placed my frozen packet of chicken strips on top of the bowl. I carried dressing in a little cup with a lid, and by lunch time my chicken had thawed and was ready to eat. I could also use the chicken to make sandwiches if I got bored with salads.

Dinner was more of a challenge. While a lot of my roommates stuck with frozen entrees or TV dinners, I wanted something a little bit tastier. In addition to salads, soups, and sandwiches, I learned to make a few simple meals. Hamburger Helper makes a variety of dinners, and browning the meat is fairly simple with a frying pan and a hot plate. Once you know how to brown hamburger meat, you can also make tacos (great if you are sharing meals with other people). Spaghetti and meatballs is a bit tricky with just one burner. The trick is to use the burner for the spaghetti noodles, while making the meatballs (out of pre-cooked hamburger meat; cook some on Saturday after you make the chicken) in the microwave. To make microwave meatballs, mix one pound of pre-browned hamburger meat with one cup of ketchup, two tablespoons of Italian seasonings (use a store bought blend or experiment on your own with garlic, oregano, and red pepper), an egg, and cup of breadcrumbs. Roll the mixture into balls and microwave the balls on a plate for about 2 minutes. Heat up store bought sauce in the microwave, and combine with the noodles and meatballs. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, toast garlic bread in the toaster oven.