11 Food Hacks for the Best Tailgate Ever (Slideshow)

A handy guide to for first-time tailgaters or seasoned pros

Hacks for Every Tailgater


Even the most avid tailgaters are guilty of making this simple “newbie” mistake: they always forget something. Despite the tailgating checklists and the mountain of things loaded into the car, you’re likely to forget to pack something. And there are other common tailgate travails from food going cold too soon to a precious beer bottle being dropped. But don’t panic, we’ve pulled together some great hacks that will have you covered for every disaster ranging from squished chips to a buggy tailgate site.

All you need is a little ingenuity and a bit of inspiration. Your tailgate trash will become highly valued treasure after your read these hacks that will improve your game day.

Use Mason Jars

Flickr/Marisa Food in Jars

Don’t want your chips to get squished on game day? Bust out those all-purpose mason jars and stack chips in there. They’ll hold up throughout your tailgating journey and serve as personal chip packs for everyone. 

Use a Tool Box to Pack

Flickr/Life Serial

Toolboxes are perfectly compartmentalized for all of your tailgating gear. Everything from extra grill tongs to cutlery can be stored safely and in a more organized way so you can grab your tool when you need it. 

Use Your Cooler to Keep Food Warm


Yes, you read that right! Bring your cooler and line it with foil on the inside and keep it in the sun. It’ll serve as a nice warmer for your hot foods on cold days. 

Use a Plastic Drink Dispenser

flickr/H is for Home

Who says those fancy dispensers were for summer cocktail parties only? Fill it with soap and water for an impromptu hand washing station.

Make a Soda Can Light for Night Games

Flickr/Monday's Child

Need some better lighting? Take an empty soda can, cut it, clean it, and stick a tea light in it for a reflective DIY lamp.


Keep Bugs Away


Use household herbs like rosemary and your grill to help keep bugs away from your tailgate site. Simply char the herbs on the grill and the pleasant aroma will ward off those unwanted bugs. 

Bring Your Muffin Tin


Your muffin tin may be the best weapon in your tailgating arsenal yet. If you’re making trips to the cooler to bring a round to your friends, glass beer bottles fit in them perfectly and you’ll have an easy, instant tray. You can also use it to pass around condiments and toppings, each round hole serving as its own personal compartment for each condiment

Use Paper Towels


If you want to chill your beers quickly but the ice is melting, wet a paper towel and wrap it around the beer before sticking it in the cooler. You’re beverage of choice will be frosty in no time!

Use Empty Beer Bottles

Flickr/Third Eye View

Forgot to pack a game of cornhole? No worries, your empty beer bottles can work for a game of ring-toss or can be set up for tailgate “bowling.”

Use Water Balloons


If you have an exposed cooler, frozen water balloons (in your team’s colors, of course) work as a great and festive way to keep drinks ice cold. 

Use Cardboard Six Pack Holders

Flickr/Metal Chris

Don’t ditch those six-pack carriers. Use them to tote around bottles of hot sauce and ketchup or organize your plastic cutlery in them. They will keep your tailgate nice and organized (leaving more time for fun!).