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Game-Changing Tailgate Food Ideas for Your Next Get-Together

Appetizers displayed on a wooden table

If tailgate food ideas are flooding your social feeds and you’re itching to get the gang together for outdoor eats and drinks, trust us, neighbor — you’re not alone. Football season is here again, and in Texas the food’s nearly as important as the game. At your Food Town we’re all about taking the stress out of busy schedules, and during football season that means helping you take your tailgates to the next level. Read on for crave-worthy tailgate food ideas, flavorful recipes and other tips from fellow football lovers at your Food Town.  

The Classics Are Classics for a Reason
There’s a good reason foods such as burgers, seven-layer dip and chili are staples at almost any sporting event. Not only are they easy to start ahead of time, but they’re transportable, simple to doctor up — and they appeal to a wide range of palates. If you keep those factors in mind when planning what to serve at your next gathering, you’re bound to make your job a whole lot easier (and keep hungry sports fans happy). Other simple staples include fruits and veggies that store well in coolers and can be enhanced with different dips, marinated kabobs and even smoked sausage you can start at home and finish up with your slow cooker or grill. 
Food Town Tip: The options are literally endless when it comes to terrific tailgate eats, but we’ve got a couple places you can turn to for inspo. Our Favorite Fan Fare Pinterest board is a great place to start, while our appetizer recipes offer easy how-tos for everything from chili con queso and flavorful salsas, to ooey-gooey loaded nachos. 

Cut Down on Stress by Shopping Smart
Food prep for a tailgate (or any gathering, really) can become really stressful, really quickly. We’re all about using your neighborhood grocery’s various departments in ways that save you time, money and headaches.

  • Instead of opting for produce that requires cleaning and cutting, consider going another route. Precut veggies are an easy grab-and-go kind of treat, while some fresh fruits and vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, berries, grapes and baby carrots, already come bite-size. (And who doesn’t love it when nature does the heavy lifting for you?) For cooked dishes requiring produce, there’s a good chance your freezer section has what you need, too. Just remember, depending on what you’re making, you might need to allow time to thaw before use.
  • Your freezer section is filled with far more than fruits and veggies. Air fryer-friendly snacks such as fries, nuggets and tots make for flavorful, filling sides without much extra work. Frozen wings can work well, too! If you don’t want to opt for completely store-bought, homemade toppings and dipping sauces are always a welcome addition.
  • If you’re looking to stock up on tailgate food without breaking the bank, pay attention to the communications your grocery store is putting out there. Weekly emails, online ads and even digital and in-store coupons can help you save big. (And the best part? With a little due diligence, it’s easy to plan out an affordable grocery list before you ever enter the store!) Your Food Town even offers a money-saving mobile app that places great deals in the palm of your hand.

Food Town Tip: Our Holiday Party Ideas blog post (while a bit out of season) offers some can’t-miss tips on ways you can doctor up items such as cocktail smokies and frozen tamales to make for crowd-pleasing meals on the run.

Don’t Skimp on the Other Details
While the food sits in the spotlight at most tailgates you’ll attend, there are other factors to consider, too. For instance, ever heard the phrase “we eat with our eyes”? Thoughtful décor can give your game day gathering something extra and make your meal options even more appetizing. Tablecloths, napkins, cups and other items that coordinate with your team’s colors can really add some oomph. You’ll also want to consider other activities while you’re out there. This is especially true if you’re inviting people who plan to kick back at the tailgate but not attend the game itself — or if you’ve got little ones showing up. Cornhole, horseshoes and scavenger hunts can be great ways to get to know your fellow tailgaters while passing time before kickoff.

We hope these tailgate food ideas (and related tips) helped get the wheels turning for your upcoming event. Remember, your Food Town is proud to be your go-to for affordable game day grub. Feel free to stop by any of our 30 Houston-area locations for great deals on all the food, drinks and other essentials you need. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Air Fried Buffalo Wings

  • 12 wings whole
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup buffalo hot sauce
    instructions here

Game Day Grilled Cheese Sliders

  • 1½ pounds ground beef (preferably an 80/20 blend)
  • salt and coarse ground pepper
  • 3 slices cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 6 slices white bread
  • 1 can canola cooking spray
  • 12 slices cooked bacon (cut in half)
    instructions here

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