If you are planning on taking your tailgating on the road, then you should definitely plan ahead and create a list of what you will need. Some important items (besides food and beverages) include: a bottle opener; a tablecloth; plates; cups; napkins; utensils; knives; a cutting board; trash bags; grill; and, a lighter or matches. Of course, forgetting something is a great way to make friends. You should also plan your menu and the quantity of food you'll need ahead of time so you don't run out of food. Make sure to have lots of options to keep everyone happy—plan for 3 to 4 hours of eating and drinking.
We all know that everyone has different tastes and preferences, so make sure there are lots of different options for food and beverages. There should be both meat and meat-less foods, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (along with plenty of water), and lots of tasty snack foods.
To avoid one person getting stuck bringing everything, have each person bring their favorite snack or beverage. Also, make sure everyone chips in on bringing supplies. Make sure to coordinate who is bringing what to avoid duplicate items.
Even at a tailgating party, you sometimes want something sweet, so don't forget to bring dessert. Individual items like cookies and brownies work better than cakes because they can be difficult to cut and serve neatly. Also, if it's hot outside, try not to bring anything that will melt.
When cooking outdoors, food safety is a big issue. Make sure to keep all food items in a cooler packed with ice. But, make sure all raw meats are packaged separately from any fruits, vegetables, or other items to avoid cross-contamination. If you are bringing hot food, be sure to eat it within 2-hours of cooking. Also, make sure to have a clean work surface on which to cut or prepare items, and bring water and cloths to clean up when you are finished.
If you have leftover food it may not always be safe to bring it home and eat it later. If an item has been left out for a few hours, it's best to throw it away; however, if you have kept the food sealed and in a cooler, it's fine to bring it home.
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