Tailgating 101: What to Pack

Americana, Featured Article, Food, Seasonal
on August 29, 2013

Fall is the season for tailgating fun. But in all the excitement of packing for a pregame get-together, it’s easy to overlook the essentials.

Avoid a slip-up by packing a tailgate survival kit to keep at the ready throughout the football season.

Food photographer and blogger Taylor Mathis of Charlotte, N.C., highlights what every tailgate kit should include in The Southern Tailgating Cookbook. Here are a few of his recommendations:

Dishes and serving utensils. Skip superfluous kitchen items and opt for simple necessities such as a manual can opener, oven mitts or grilling gloves, tongs, serving spoons, cutlery, team-colored plates, cups and napkins, a pitcher for drinks, and a serving platter or two. If you want to cut down on waste, invest in reusable plastic plates and cutlery. (Just remember to wash items and replenish supplies after every tailgating event.)

For tips on how to tailgate with team spirit, click here.

Cooking equipment. Tailgating is more like on-site catering than cooking in your home kitchen. A spatula, meat-basting brush, meat thermometer and grill brush all are handy tools for seamless grilling. And remember to pack plenty of charcoal, lighter fluid and matches, or a reusable lighter for your grill. Aluminum foil, plastic wrap and zip-top plastic bags also will come in handy.

Cleanup supplies. As with any large gathering of people, there’s bound to be some mess left behind. Heavy-duty trash bags are a must. They can be used as waste collectors, impromptu tablecloths or even ponchos in case of a downpour. Paper towels soak up spills and can be useful in wiping down greasy grills for the trip home. Rubber or plastic gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes can help everyone stay clean and healthy.

Other tips. Among the most overlooked items, according to Mathis, are lanterns or flashlights, a basic first aid kit, extra batteries and duct tape. What item do people forget most often? Sunscreen. “You kind of forget that you’re in the sun for up to eight hours, and if you’re not careful, you’ll wake up on Sunday pretty sunburned,” Mathis says.

Depending on the time of year, he also recommends packing insect repellent. And, during the colder months of football season, toss in a few hand and foot warmers. They take up little space and can make pre-game festivities a little cozier while waiting for kickoff.

So grab a large plastic container, store all these essentials, and your tailgating kit is game-ready!