By Lawrence Reaves
Tailgating is a favorite activity of sports fans all over the country. Whether you’re a fan of car racing, high school football, college basketball, or professional baseball, you’re right there with a cooler, grill, and bags of food and drinks. A tailgating party can last all afternoon so you want to be sure that you’re all set to keep the good times rolling. A little bit of preparation goes a long way and will ensure a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your guests. Here are a few tips that can help you make sure that your party is a success.
Don’t let a case of food borne illness (‘food poisoning’) put the brakes on your next party. Carefully separate out your foods and plan how they will be packed. Meat should always be securely wrapped in plastic and stored away from other foods; raw meat is especially risky, so if you’ll be grilling steaks or burgers at your party, wrap these items carefully, keep them covered with ice, and cook them promptly. Foods with lots of dairy and egg ingredients – such as potato salad, pasta salad, and similar dishes – should be kept cold. The general guideline practiced by professional food handles is, ‘Hot food hot, cold food cold.’ In other words, if a dish is to be served hot, it should be kept hot; if a dish will be served cold, keep it cold. For specifics with regards to different kinds of food, simply refer to the FDA Food Code, available online.
Storage Considerations: In addition to keeping meat carefully packaged, you should make sure that all other foods you’re taking with you are secured as well. This means sealing veggies in plastic bags, covering side salads, and keeping packaged food sealed until you’re ready to use them. Food that’s been securely stored is easier to access, less likely to spill, and can be cleaned up quickly since it’s already in a handy container.
New Versus Old: Should you buy brand new condiments even if you have several bottles of ketchup, mustard, and relish at home? It’s recommended that you do. First, you don’t want to be stuck running out of your own personal supply; condiments get used quickly at tailgating parties and that half-full bottle of mustard you brought from home isn’t going to last.
Chill Out: The bags of ice you bring in the morning simply aren’t going to last all day. Even if you bring several bags, they won’t have the same chill that they did a few hours ago. Arrange to fetch ice later on or have someone arriving later bring extras. Fresh ice keeps food at a safe temperature and helps keep drinks ready for sipping.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
The old saying says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; by the same token, a few minutes of preparation will give you hours of enjoyment. Double check that your food is packaged well and kept at an appropriate temperature. Buy new supplies instead of bringing your own and arrange to get more ice later in the day. When you’re sure that your food is safe, well-stored, and ready for your guests, you can focus on having a good time and enjoying the event you’ve planned.
About the Author: Lawrence writes about and enjoys good food. For
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