10 Budget-Friendly Tailgating Tips

People don’t always believe me when I say that in Alabama, football is like a “religion.” Tailgating is an integral part of the fall weekend routine in the south, and it’s a great way to spend time with family and friends outdoors. This week is the SEC National Championship game with Alabama and Georgia. I think just about everyone in my hometown is going to the game in Atlanta. Since tickets are a premium, try some of my favorite money-saving tailgating tips for a party that costs less but is still full of fun for everyone.

1. Plan ahead: One of the most important things you can do to save money on your tailgating party is to plan ahead. Make organized lists of essentials so you won’t have last minute expenses.

2. Shop smart: Buy meats, drinks, plastic cups, napkins, etc. in bulk to save money. Preparing recipes at home such as pasta salad, potato salad, chili or sandwiches will also cut back on expenses.

3. Store it: Use Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bags for easy transportation of foods to the game and pack leftovers that can be reused at home.

4. Enlist help: Join forces with your friends to save money. Ask each person or couple to bring a dish or beverage that fits into your menu. Everyone loves a potluck, especially while tailgating and the more the merrier. Driving to the game with other people also saves money on gas.

5. Keep it simple: Don’t try to overdo or outdo your friends. Tailgating is all about fun, being outdoors and being with friends with minimal amenities. Less is more. In this case, try sticking to one main dish and three to four sides max.

6. Bake: Bake homemade treats and deserts, such as cookies and brownies instead of buying them. Store them in Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap® Seal or bags for easy transport. You’ll save money and impress your guests at the same time. Who doesn’t love a homemade treat instead of store-bought?

7. Use your slow cooker: If you’ll have access to electricity, prepare dishes ahead in a crockpot or slow cooker. You can then bring the entire pot of chili, pulled pork or baked beans straight to the event and serve your team right from the pot. Just don’t forget your extension cord!

8. Park farther away: Parking spots closer to the stadium usually cost more money. Pick a spot a little farther away and jump on a shuttle. Just be sure to plan ahead and allow extra time so you don’t miss kickoff!

9. Assign an entertainer: Have someone bring an iPod speaker dock for music, a frisbee and of course a football to help entertain kids of all ages.

10. Decorations DIY: Instead of worrying about expensive decorations, visit your local discount store to purchase plate.

Homemade Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn anyone? This child (and adult) favorite is a great snack, dessert or even fun tailgating recipe. It also makes a great fall or Christmas food gift. I love this homemade Caramel Corn because it’s simple to prepare and uses a variety of almonds, pecans and walnuts, adding more protein. Make this even healthier by using my Saucepan Popcorn recipe to pop your popcorn. It’s so easy and uses no microwave. Be careful, this can get very addicting 🙂

Healthy Tailgating Recipe: Panko Roasted Drumsticks

As I mentioned last week, football is just kind of big around here during football season. Each week, we rotate going to friends’ houses to watch the game or head to the games (if we are lucky enough). I have such a great time coming up with creative ways to make tailgating (and game watching) a little healthier, so everyone  doesn’t feel so stuffed (and guilty) when the games are over. These Panko Roasted Drumsticks are definitely one of my new popular crowd pleasers. They appeal to adults as well as kids, and they are so simple to make. Your guests won’t believe that this recipe is a “lightened up” version of one of their favorite party foods.

Lightened-Up Pimiento Cheese Recipe

Since it’s Labor Day weekend (and the start of college football), I thought I would share a lightened-up version of pimiento cheese perfect for a game day appetizer, Labor Day picnic, or weekend snack with crackers. Most of our friends will be at the Alabama game, Auburn game, the lake or the beach (that is how it goes around here in the south). I will be at the Auburn game because my daughter’s cheerleading team gets to cheer during the Auburn halftime show. How cool is that? Anyway, this Lightened-Up Pimiento Cheese uses Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. It tastes great, and no one will know the difference. I also like to add smoked paprika or chipotle seasoning for an added kick. Have a great, safe weekend!