Tailgating has become an American tradition – one that’s almost as beloved as the sports that tailgaters revere. “Pre-gaming” is almost as popular as the game itself, and people love to make a full day out of any sporting event: getting in early, staking out a spot, and cooking brunch, lunch, or dinner right then and there. It’s a great way to take the stress out of dealing with crowds and traffic by skipping over the hassle and taking the opportunity to party with friends or family who are all together to watch the big event.
Tailgating doesn’t have to be limited to sporting events, either; it’s great for a day at the beach or a day of fishing or anything you can think of. The idea is just to be able to cook great food anywhere with portable equipment. If you become a pro- tailgater, you can make a “tailgating” party almost anywhere and for any outdoor event. It doesn’t have to be difficult if you have the right equipment and follow some simple tailgating tips.
A Great Portable Grill
Tailgating is almost synonymous with grilling because grills are the best cooking equipment available for both portability and versatility. If you have the right grill, you can take it anywhere and be ready to cook great food for your guests.
To get started, look for a high-quality portable grill that includes the tools and equipment you need for grilling on the go. One great option is the Napoleon TQ3225 Travel Q Portable Grill Set, which includes the grill plus everything you need to set it up and use it safely, including a stand, a travel bag to contain the grill, and some basic cooking utensils to get you started. This grill is a good first investment in a tailgate setup. It would also make a wonderful gift for any sports lover who wants to get started on tailgating, and might be a useful gift idea for your sports fan or grill master this Valentine’s Day, which is right around the corner.
Whatever grill you choose, be sure to get a good stand for it. Too many tailgaters make the mistake of setting their grill in precarious positions, such as on the ground or balanced on a chair. Not only does a grill at the wrong height make it difficult to cook, one that is poorly balanced or not secure can be knocked over and cause dangerous injuries and burns. Avoid problems and make cooking more enjoyable by getting a grill stand or sturdy table at the right height for your grill. If your tailgating party includes kids, it’s even more important to make sure your grill is secure and out of the way of small children.
Planning for Your Meal
One of the keys to a great tailgating party is planning. There’s nothing worse in tailgating than setting up outside an arena and getting ready to start cooking only to find you’ve left some vital ingredient at home. When tailgating, you may be out of luck to replace it, or you might have to postpone your meal until someone can fetch what is needed. You can avoid this problem by planning your meal (and your grocery list) ahead of time and making sure you bring everything with you. If you are an inexperienced tailgater, checklists and recipes may be your best friends while you prepare for your first outing. If you make a point of writing out lists of everything you need, from food ingredients to cooking utensils to plates and cups, you are less likely to miss something when you pack it all up to get on the road, especially if you check off your lists as you go.
Well-marked coolers are also big bonuses when you get to your site and start to set up. If you clearly mark which coolers contain which items, you won’t have to fumble around for your ingredients when you need them. If you are able to pack with cooking order in mind, you can even set up your coolers so that the first items you need to get on the grill are all together or are nearest to you, which helps avoid digging through packed coolers to get what you need next. Also, clearly mark coolers with drinks or snack items that don’t need to be cooked, so your guests can pull out a soda, beer or snack without having to dig through all of your food to find them.
To take some of the pressure off, you can also ask your guests to contribute some items to the party, sort of like a tailgating potluck. If you plan to handle all of the main cooking, ask some of the people coming to your tailgating party to contribute snacks, drinks, or paper goods. Guests can also bring desserts or finger foods they prepared ahead of time. This is a great way to make sure everything is covered while letting everyone share in the fun.