Food is fuel, but just because you might not be the one playing on the field doesn’t mean you shouldn’t load up for the big game. While I do identify as a sports junkie, I am also a junkie when it comes to food. I’m talking junk food — more specifically, tailgate food. Football games are fun on their own, but they simply feel incomplete without some game-day grub. Fall, football, friends and food just makes sense, and if you’re a crowd-pleaser like me, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got something for everyone at your tailgate. Here are five game-day essentials to make sure your tailgate stays winning while your team does the same.
1. Chick-fil-A Nuggets Trays
To kick this off, I’m going with a classic. Everyone knows that wings go hand-in-hand with sports, but I’ll do you one better. Save yourself the hassle of having to discard the bones, and go for some Chick-fil-A nuggets instead. It’s easy finger food that can cater to anyone’s liking because there is a variety of sauces to change up the dish. From the traditional Chick-fil-A sauce to Polynesian, honey mustard, garlic herb ranch, zesty buffalo and even sweet and spicy sriracha, there’s something for everyone. A 64-nugget platter can be bought for about $28.50 from most Chick-fil-A’s, which is a touchdown for me.
Nuggets are obviously not enough. Your team is going to need much more protein to bulk up for this win. Tackle the tailgate scene by supplying some barbeque for your guests. What’s great about this dish is its versatility — it can be an entree of ribs or sandwiches or just a side dish if you want to provide some mini sliders. The sweet taste of barbeque contrasts with the savory meat and the saltiness of the sides to combine for an undefeatable meal. It also pairs extremely well with the cheesy delectableness of mac and cheese, so you’ll definitely earn that extra point if you bring that to accompany it too.
3. Veggie Tray
Veggies? At a tailgate? While this might sound like a fumble of my words, just hear me out. Since you’re carb-loading for the game and filling up on proper protein, you might as well throw in some micronutrients as well. Also, you have to acknowledge the potential veggie-heads at your tailgate. Even though this dish will most likely go untouched, at least it will give your set-up some color. You might even score and fool some bypassers, making it seem like you’ve got your life together since you’re eating vegetables. Plus, if you can intercept some ranch or hummus for your veggies, you might even get some takers on this vegetarian-inspired side dish.
It might seem basic, but it’s a classic. Why risk throwing a hail mary when this dish is sure to win for you every time? Chips and dip are a salty snack that is suitable for anyone. Simply buy any kind of chips and a variety of dips to please your fans. Tortilla chips are an ideal vehicle for salsa or guacamole, as well as queso, French onion, buffalo chicken, beans and spinach dip. Chips will carry your team, and your dip, to the end zone on this play.
Dessert is basically like the fourth quarter — it matters just as much as the rest of the game, and there’s no stopping now. Cookies are a reliable player when it comes to sweets. I mean, have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like cookies? Brownies could be unpleasant for chocolate-haters, and cupcakes could be too overwhelming at the end of this long matchup between your waistband and your stomach. Cookies are a safe bet to make sure you’ll secure the win at the end of this game. Chocolate chip is a classic, but if you really want to support your Hoos, spice your tailgate up with some festive blue and orange-frosted sugar cookies.
It’s football season, which inevitably means tailgate season too. Now that you’ve got your game plan, you’re set to fuel up for game day and win the pre-game scene. Proper nourishment is important before football games, even if you’re not playing, and you deserve to treat yourself to the comfort food of tailgates.