Weekend Tailgating on a Budget

By Shannon Hanrahan  •  September 24, 2015

Tailgating is a right of passage for the fall and a lifestyle at that for many people. From college campuses to major cities across the country, food is prepared, tables are set up, and parties are started every weekend until the final touchdown of the season is made. Whether you are a die-hard or a first-timer, planning a cookout strategy will let you walk into that tailgate section like a pro. We are here to make sure that you do that, while also saving you the most amount of money.

Best Tailgate Food

There are a lot of factors that go into throwing the perfect tailgate, but aside from a sufficient alcohol supply, everyone is going to be looking for food. For an all day affair, you want to be sure to have food that will serve a lot of people but takes minimal time and effort. Going along with that, try making food that won’t require a lot of cleanup at the end of the day because you are either going to be too busy celebrating a win or drowning your sorrows in a loss to pick up after everyone. These are our favorite tailgate snacks:

Something Simple:

  • Breakfast Eggs and Hash Browns on a Skillet
  • Bacon
  • Pancakes
  • Breakfast Sandwich--cheese and eggs on a roll
  • Hot Dogs
  • Chili--pre-made in a slow cooker the night before
  • Burgers
  • Pasta Salad

Fancier Options:

You don’t have to grill filet mignons and lobster to have a more luxurious tailgate than your neighbors. It just takes a little creativity to make your meals become something more out of the ordinary. Try some of these:

  • Sausage--a perfect sub for hot dogs
  • Tacos in a Bag--throw that chili into a bag of chips for tacos on the go
  • Soup in Bread Bowls--Edible bowls are more filling and save on cleanup
  • Extra Toppings- store them in separate containers and let people customize their food

 

Basic Essentials for a Tailgate

There are certain items that you need to have in order for the day to go smoothly. Unless you are only tailgating once a season, it is a good investment to get stuff of your own. Borrowing is always a hassle and renting only saves you money in the short run. Stick with what you know won’t go to waste, and then you can add on from there when you see what you are looking for week after week. Invest in good fold up chairs, a few tables, a tent (rain or shine...you will be glad you bought this), a skillet, and most importantly, a grill. Check out our Home Depot coupons and browse the section on their site dedicated to all things tailgating.

Entertainment for a Tailgate

There is a lot of downtime when you are waiting for the big game, and there is only so much food that can be consumed. Okay so I don’t actually believe that you can’t just eat your way through the day, that is the sole reason I attend tailgates, but other people like to stay busy. Keep the entertainment simple and easy to transport. A few footballs and a corn hole set are the perfect addition to your setup and fun for people of all ages. If your tailgate section allows, bring along a few ping pong balls and set up a beer pong table for the older crowd.

A Few Tips for an Easy Tailgate

  • Pack one of those big plastic container filled with plates, cups, napkins, trash bags, and cooking utensils. This way everything is is one place and then you can use the container as a trash bin while you are partying.
  • Try to make as much of the food the night before, so that you know exactly what you do and don’t have. Last minute trips to the store day of are going to lead to overspending, so plan it in advance. Even take a few trips to Costco or Sam’s Club and stock up what you can for the season.
  • Ask friends and family to bring stuff. You don’t have to be the only one to buy the food, furniture, and games. Or join forces with a few families and throw one big tailgate. That will reduce your overall costs significantly.


Tailgating is a fantastic way to get the whole gang together, cheer on your favorite team, and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Just remember that you don’t need to overspend to have a good time!



Shannon Hanrahan Shannon Hanrahan Shannon is a LA transplant from Philadelphia and a social media junkie. When she is not Pinteresting or Instagraming away, she enjoys eating dessert first, traveling to new places, and being a self-proclaimed DIY expert (aka HGTV addict).


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