Safe, Healthy and Fun Tailgate Ideas
With the start of the football season, it’s tailgate time again. No matter who you’re cheering for we’re all at the party together.
Don’t sideline your team – minute bacteria and viruses can ruin the day. They are invisible to the naked eye and only a tiny amount can make you sick. Make the best of the football season by following these tips.
Follow the Game Plan
- Start with enough CLEAN coolers and lots of ice. Pack a thermometer in the cooler so you know that your cold food is being held at 40°F or below.
- Use a hanging shoe bag (a clean one) to easily store utensils, napkins, bottle opener, serving utensils, etc.
- Recycled tin cans also work as a convenient storage area for silverware too.
- Kiddy pools are great for safe display and storage of cold foods.
- Use an inflatable pool filled with ice to keep cold food cold. It’s the end of the summer which = End of Season SALES,) so buy a few mini pools for your next tailgate party. They are easy to blow up (tire pump) and easy to deflate at the end of the game. (Hint: fill a 5 gallon bucket with ice for easy transport then use the bucket as a support for a smaller container).
Avoid Encroachment – Transport
Transport meats separately from prepared foods. Stack food according to cooking temperatures:
- Whole cuts of meat & fish on top (cook to 145°F) – on the top
- Ground meats & fish (cook to 155°F) – in the middle
- Poultry (cook to 165°F)- always on the bottom
Label coolers to limit opening. A warm cooler is a dangerous cooler. Don’t forget to pack a thermometer in the cooler
- Use thermos to transport soups or other hot foods. Different thermos also means you can bring a variety of soups, chowders or chili.
- Pack salads into individual cup, place fork in cup via straw holder – make sure to put handle up for increased safety. Mason jars work great too. Fill with salad, fruit, potato salad, pasta salad, anything!
- Individual 7 layer dip cups – prepare at home and hand out as needed. A great solution that prevents double dipping!!!
- Meatball skewer – another individual snack that prevents double dipping. Add anything you want with the meatball – bacon, lettuce, pickle, cheese, tomato – it’s your call. Shake it up with BBQ meatballs; spicy meatballs or just plain meatballs. And it’s easy enough to buy 1/2 oz. ones by the bag.
- Chili bowls – forget the plates or bowls. Serve individual chili bowls using small bread bowls (slider rolls will work). 100% consumption. Better yet make bite size ones using a mini muffin tin and croissant dough.
Illegal Use of Hands – Hand Safety
- Bring an extra roll of toilet paper – just in case the porta-potty runs out.
- Clean hands, utensils and surfaces is key to staying safe during football season.
- Bring washcloths already wet and with soap on them, and an extra jug of water for a quick wash and rinse.
- Make your own hand washing station with a 5 gallon camp water jug, a plastic paper towel holder and a bottle of soap.
- If all else fails bit lots of Wet Ones
- An empty cooler can also act as your garbage container – remember the garbage bags.
Off Sides – Food Safety
- For safety sake – start with frozen hamburgers and hotdogs. They can help keep other foods cold and they easily cook up if still frozen.
- Don’t buy bulk. Buy condiments in small portion size. Condiments need refrigeration too – if you have to leave it out of the day any left over can be tossed without the guilt.
- Keep it hot – if electricity is available, bring a crock pot and keep all the hot foods hot. If electricity is not available fill a cooler with HOT water while home to heat up the cooler. Before leaving empty the hot water and add your hot items. Hot foods can be held without temperature control of up to 4 hours. That’s the limit. Throw the food out before coming home – you don’t want to be tempted or get sick. A simple Coleman grill is another great option to heat up hot food.
- Use a meat thermometer to assure that those burgers and brats are cooked sufficiently to kill any harmful bacteria?