(Food) Safety First: Tips for Tailgating on the Go

August 20, 2012 | By | Comments (1)
Mini Muffalettas

Mini Muffalettas Recipe, Photo courtesy of Jennifer Davick

Whether you’re a season ticket holder or whether you plan to host a houseful of fans in front of the television, with Southern Living The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook in hand, your tailgate party– regardless of location– is sure to be a winning success. It’s loaded with valuable tips and recipes to ensure your tailgate comes off without a hitch and who are we kidding, it’s going to be hotter than Georgia asphalt until about… um, well, I’d say Thanksgiving down South so keep these tips in mind when packing food for your road trip to campus (or even across town!):

1. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40 degrees F. Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of in your hot trunk and keep it closed tight. For hot food, keep and transport in a casserole carrier, slow cooker, or thermos.

2. Break it down.
Pack several smaller coolers to keep raw food separate from already prepared foods. Designate another that can be opened more often for drinks.

3. Keep it clean.
Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean surfaces often.

4. Ice, Ice, Baby.
Don’t let food sit out more than one hour. On a hot day (90 degrees F or higher), reduce this time to 30 minutes. Nestle platters and bowls filled with mayonnaise-based deviled eggs and potato salad into larger bowls filled with ice. Keep bugs at bay by placing plastic wrap or foil directly over food until ready to serve.

5. Toss it.
When the tailgate is over, discard all perishable foods if there is no longer sufficient ice in the cooler.

Tailgating CookbookI keep all of these things in mind when I take these Mini Muffulettas on the road. They’re great for game-day because they can be made the night before. Simply place in zip-top plastic freezer bags, and refrigerate overnight.

If you’re looking for tailgating food that’s easy to make and travel with, check out Southern Living’s Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook. It includes special recipes for each of the 14 teams and goes on sale tomorrow anywhere books are sold. You can order yours now on Amazon.

Baby Back RibsFor our entire arsenal of delicious game-day recipes, head over to our Fan-Favorite Game Day Dishes roundup. Featuring these Sweet-Heat Baby Back Ribs. Touchdown!


  1. Southern Delicacy: The Muffuletta « Southern Weddings Magazine

    […] muffulettas from Southern Living; mini muffuletta crostinis from Thrifty Foods; muffuletta bites from Rhubarb and Honey; and […]

    March 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

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