Great low-mess foods for tailgating!

Men around the USA are weeping for joy as football season thunders toward us. Many women are probably weeping too, perhaps some of them for joy as well?

Whatever your feelings toward football, tailgate parties are a legitimate phenomenon of this time of year. These parties involve donning a favorite team’s jersey, painting one’s body and/or face, trashtalking the opposing team, obstructing traffic, and eating and drinking.

Let’s talk about these last two items: eating and drinking. What are some of the best foods for tailgating, and even better, what are the best low-mess foods for this uniquely American activity? And what drinks are best?


There’s no doubt that the most common beverage of choice at tailgate parties is beer. A cold brewskie with wings, or a bratwurst, is surely one of the iconic sights at these events. But do you really want to be drunk or even buzzed for your favorite team’s triumph over the enemy team?

Surely not.

So let’s stick to drinks like lemonade and soda. A good caffeinated soda like Mountain Dew will not only boost your energy, it will also refresh you. You could go with a fruit juice, or lemonade or even a cola soda, but these are often too sweet to really refresh. So if you’re going to go that route, plan on having some water around too.

If you decide to go with lemonade, definitely choose Simply Lemonade or Limeade. These are the best lemonades available today.


Enough about the drinks. Let’s talk non-messy grub.

Wings, while absolutely the best food for tailgates, are not non-messy. So let’s take them out of the picture, unless you don’t mind staining that pristine new team jersey.

The first non-messy food to have ready at your tailgate parties is a nice variety of bratwursts, along with good hot dog buns. You will need some sauerkraut to go with those brats, so get some into a tupperware and chill it for a couple of hours before heading out. And don’t forget a fork to serve up the sauerkraut, too. Also, for your brats, you will want ketchup and mustard. This is a great handheld food that always goes down well.

Another option for non-messy food for your tailgate party is hamburgers. If you really want to reduce the mess, have these cooked before you head out. Be sure to grab bags of chips to go along with the burgers. You already have ketchup and mustard, so you are in good shape.

Now, outside the box.

Grab your deep-fat fryer, some peanut oil and a propane tank. Then deep-fry some frozen corn dogs. Low-mess food, anyone? Just be sure to get your fryer to about 360 F and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Pull them out when they’re heated all the way through and are golden brown.

Shish-kebabs are another nice non-messy food. You will want to prepare the skewers before you head out, but then you can quickly grill them on your tailgate-mounted George Foreman grill.

This last one is a little odd, but is worth a try. Grab a bag of pita bread, prepare some chicken or tri-tip in a marinade, and bring along some fixings like lettuce tomatoes and dijon mustard. Grill your meat, stuff your pitas, and you are eating in style.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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