I’ve blogged a lot about tailgating over the years. What to bring, what not to bother with, how to prep ahead, what everyone’s favorite foods are, new ideas, tried-and-true ideas, and LOTS and LOTS of recipes.
The bottom line is, like going out for dinner, everyone, including you, has their likes and dislikes, including what they just might feel like eating that day.
Planning a menu isn’t difficult unless you stray away from the standard grilled burgers, dogs, sausages or ribs with sides of chips and cold salads. Then, it becomes more challenging.
Will everyone enjoy what you bring? Or will you, at the end of the day, wish you’d stuck with the traditional tailgate fare? Have you, in your attempt to “mix things up a little bit,” done the unthinkable and done the equivalent of serving goose instead of turkey for Thanksgiving?
For all of you who tailgate without firing up a grill, you’re kind of ahead on the variety game because cold food menu choices are generally more varied and less predictable than, let’s say, BBQ ribs, a burger, or an Italian sausage on a bun.
As for me, while I can enjoy a grilled tailgate meal as much as the next guy, I don’t necessarily want to be the one to prepare it. To do so, you’ve got to be the first at the party and are usually the last one to leave. Added to that are all the grilling chores and all the additional cleanup that’s involved.
I just don’t want to be burdened with that. Having said that, if you’re a Lion’s fan, it just may turn out that cleaning a grill will be the most enjoyable part of your afternoon.
Generally, I stick with cold foods with enough variety to satisfy everyone. One of the ways to do that is make-your-own food bars that let everyone do their own thing.
Here are some suggestions:
Mexican Flauta Bar
- 6” Soft Flour Tortillas
- Fajita Mix
- Chilled Beef Taco Mix
- Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
- Shredded Cheese
- Sour Cream
Mini Bun Bar
- Shaved Honey Ham
- Chicken Salad
- Shaved Roasted Beef
- Sliced Grilled and Chilled Chicken Breast
- Plus all the fixin’s: Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onions and Condiments
Stuffed Italian Sub Pitas or Antipasto Cup Bar
- Choose either Pita Pockets to make pocket bread sandwiches or 6-oz. Clear Plastic Cups to make a snack meal in a cup.
- Baked Honey Ham (Cubed)
- Salami (Cubed)
- Diced Tomato
- American and Provolone Cheese, Cubed
- Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
- Mixed Olive Medley
- Italian Dressing in a Squirt Bottle
Traditional Caesar Salad Bar
- In addition to freshly torn Romaine and Caesar Dressing, your buffet can include the following:
- Grilled and Chilled Chicken Breast
- Grilled and Chilled Salmon
- Grilled and Chilled Shrimp
- Grilled and Chilled Beef Sirloin or Tenderloin
- Grilled and Chilled Italian Sausage
- Diced Roma Tomato
- Shaved Parmesan Cheese
- Caesar Croutons
With this particular bar, I enjoy serving my Tiramisu Crème Dip with Ladyfingers (Savoiardi) for dessert.
Looking for some additional Tailgate Ideas? Check out these links to some of my previous blogs.