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11 Food Hacks for the Best Tailgate Ever (Slideshow)

11 Food Hacks for the Best Tailgate Ever (Slideshow)

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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!).

15 Deliciously Intense State Fair Food Recipes

These homemade recipes for classic state fair foods are sure to satisfy any unexpected cravings.

State fair season is here! But if you can't make it to the fairgrounds, these homemade recipes for classic state fair foods are sure to satisfy any unexpected cravings.

With only three ingredients, this extra-indulgent treat couldn't be easier to make.

Add some pep to your grilled corn on the cob with ground chipotle, lime, and manchego cheese.

The only thing that could make thick-cut, maple-glazed bacon better? Drizzling it in chocolate.

These mini versions of the classic state fair treats make the perfect&mdashand easiest!&mdashkid-friendly Halloween party desserts.

How do these state-fair-worthy shots work? Just dunk bite-sized pieces of angel food cake in tequila, fry to a golden brown, and dust with powdered sugar. Don't like tequila? This recipe works with virtually any liquid, including cola and apple cider.

Watch how to cook Ground Beef in the Instant Pot:

  1. Instant Pot Korean Beef– this recipe is amazing because it cooks both the rice and the ground beef in the Instant Pot together! It’s one of the most popular recipes on our blog for a reason.

2. Instant Pot Cheesy Beef Taco Pasta – ground beef and pasta come together to make a quick and delicious dinner!

3. Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce – for this recipe, I like to use Italian sausage OR ground beef. Both give you an amazing dish full of flavor that takes a fraction of the time regular bolognese takes.

4. The BEST Instant Pot Sloppy Joes – up your sloppy joe game with this delicious recipe. My kids LOVE when I make these for dinner!

5. Instant Pot Ravioli Soup – this “dump and go” Instant Pot recipe is so easy to make. Just dump it all in and be on your way! You can sub the ground sausage with ground beef and it’s amazing.

6. Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef – this recipe takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish and is a kid favorite! Adults love it too.

7. Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers – this recipe doesn’t get any easier because you don’t have to pre-cook the peppers or the onions. A classic dish made easier in the Instant Pot!

8. Instant Pot Mini Meatloaf – everything is better when it’s mini, right? This meatloaf recipe is SO simple to make in the Instant Pot.

9. The BEST Instant Pot Dump and Go Chili – this is the recipe that our mom has made for years and now we converted it so that you can make it in the Instant Pot! It’s comfort food at it’s finest. Serve this with cornbread for a delicious meal.

10. Instant Pot Meatloaf and Potatoes – we love this recipe because it makes both the side dish AND main dish in ONE Instant Pot! Genius!

11. Instant Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff – this recipe from iFoodReal takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish and the pasta, meat, and sauce are all cooked in one pot!

12. Instant Pot Beef and Noodle Goulash – this is a classic recipe that we always had growing up and now you can make it in the Instant Pot!

13. Instant Pot Ground Beef and Rice Casserole – this hearty dish from Oh Sweet Basil is the PERFECT weeknight meal. It’s filling and takes only 10 MINUTES!

14. Instant Pot Hamburger Soup – this hearty soup from Salt and Lavender is loaded with protein AND vegetables, so it’s a winner in my book! The simple ingredients make it easy to throw together.

15. Instant Pot Ground Beef and Broccoli – this is a fun spin on traditional beef and broccoli because it’s made with ground beef. This delicious recipe from 31 Daily comes together in MINUTES.

16. Instant Pot Ground Beef and Pasta – this easy dish from Creme de la Crumb has a marinara sauce base and is perfect for busy nights when you need a quick and filling dinner.

17. Instant Pot Ground Beef Hamburger Helper – you will never buy a box of Hamburger Helper again once you see how easy it is to make from scratch in your Instant Pot! Love this recipe from Recipe Diaries.

18. Instant Pot Ground Beef and Rice Shawarma – this recipe from Two Sleevers isn’t your typical shawarma, but it has all the flavors mixed in with the ground beef and it makes for a delicious and hearty dish everyone will RAVE about! A fun twist on a delicious classic.

19. Instant Pot Ground Beef Taco Meat – this recipe from Don’t Mess with Mama is probably the most flavorful taco meat you will ever make! The Instant Pot makes it so easy to make.

20. Instant Pot Tavern Sandwiches – if you are looking for a new recipe to try in your Instant Pot, look no further than this recipe from Farm Wife Cooks! They have a secret ingredient that takes this recipe over the top!

21. Instant Pot Creamy French Onion Beef and Noodles – this recipe from Soulfully Made is not only delicious comfort food, but also incredibly budget friendly!

22. Instant Pot Salisbury Steak – this recipe from Flavor Mosaic is one of my favorites and it couldn’t be easier because of the Instant Pot!

23. Instant Pot Spaghetti – this recipe from Swanky Recipes is amazing because you DO NOT have to pre-cook your pasta! You just add it to the Instant Pot uncooked and let the Instant Pot do it’s magic!

24. Instant Pot Philly Cheesesteak Pasta – all the flavors of Philly Cheesesteak + PASTA? Sign me up! This ground beef recipe from Taste and See is going on the menu for this week!

25. Instant Pot Hamburgers – that’s right! You can make HAMBURGERS in your Instant Pot! And they turn out juicy and delicious. Be sure to check out this recipe from Simple Happy Foodie.

26. Instant Pot Beef Egg Roll Bowls – a fun twist on egg rolls from 365 Days of Slow and Pressure Cooking. So fresh and healthy!

27. Instant Pot Ground Beef Porcupine Meatballs – ground beef, rice, and tomato sauce make the best little meatballs! This Instant Pot recipe from Simply Happy Foodie is amazing.

The Best Secret Ingredients for Chili

Here are some of the most common (and most effective) flavor boosters to add to your chili recipe.

Booze (Beer, Wine, or Liquor)

Beer chili is a whole genre, and adding a bottle of your favorite brew is a wise move, but other kinds of alcohol can add their own little something-something. A smaller amount of red wine imparts richness, depth, and body to beefy chili (like a larger amount does to boeuf bourguignon), and a shot or two of liquor like bourbon—even vodka or tequila—toward the end lifts the other flavors without obviously announcing its own presence. Still, as you were warned in college, you’re best off choosing one booze and sticking to it rather than mixing them.

Liquid Smoke

If you want to add a smoky dimension to your chili, this is a no-brainer, although if you’re opposed to the oft-maligned ingredient, a few teaspoons of chipotles in adobo makes a nice substitute, as does smoked paprika. You could also use bacon, but most commercial brands are actually treated with liquid smoke to give them that characteristic tang—so you may as well reach for the bottle in the first place. (You can also mash-up these first and second options by adding a smoked beer to your chili.)

Chowhound’s Smoked Chili recipe relies on smoked beer and smoked sausage

Brine or Vinegar

A few tablespoons of brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños (or any sort of pickles, really), stirred in at the end as a finishing touch, adds a bright acidity that perks everything up. Plain white vinegar can work the same magic trick—even balsamic or apple cider vinegar, if you want a suggestion of sweetness too.

Not just for stir fries, a few dashes of soy sauce enhances the umami savor of your chili, and is good for adding some meaty depth to veggie chilis too. Liquid aminos can do the same. You might even try miso in small doses.

This serves the same purpose as soy, really: emphasizing meaty umami notes and bringing a little piquant salt. Added judiciously, it doesn’t taste at all like fish once stirred into the pot. Some people even use a couple anchovies as a briny, umami-rich component that melts away into the other ingredients.

Red Boat Vietnamese Fish Sauce, $6.28 from Walmart

Our favorite brand of fish sauce.

Worcestershire Sauce

Similar to but more complex than soy sauce, liquid aminos, and fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce is another great umami amplifier that’s why it turns up in Bloody Marys, after all. (And while traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, you can find vegan Worcestershire too if you need to boost your meatless chili.)

Coffee or Espresso Powder

A moderate amount of bitter, roasty espresso, strong-brewed black coffee, or instant coffee granules will beef up the deep, complex flavors of chili, and work well alone or in concert with a little chocolate.

Added in the form of cocoa powder or unsweetened baking chocolate, this secret ingredient adds another subtle bass note, but you can also try dark chocolate that contains some sugar for a twin touch of sweetness, or even sandy Mexican chocolate (with dark sugar and cinnamon already added) to complement the spicy, acidic, and umami flavors.

Taza Mexican Chocolate Sampler, 8 for $19.99 from Amazon

Mexican chocolates infused with flavors like chipotle, coffee, and vanilla are even more intriguing options for your chili.

Sweet Spices

Cinnamon is a fairly common addition to chili, but you can also use small amount of nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and other sweet spices to make it more aromatic. Even a bit of star anise can enhance the beefy, spicy flavor of chili without being too licorice-forward (add too much, though, and it may taste more like pho).

Chowhound’s Jerk Turkey Chili recipe includes cinnamon and chocolate

Peanut Butter

Some people swear by peanut butter to add a little fatty oomph to leaner veggie chilis, but it also shows up in meaty versions, from turkey to beef (and, hey, peanut butter burgers are a thing). Using a natural peanut butter will give you that creamy richness and nutty nuance without too much added salt and sugar.

Dark, slightly smoky, and a little sweet in a caramelized way, molasses is another method of adding a certain je ne sais quoi to your chili. Use unsulphured molasses, dark if you like a stronger flavor, but stay away from the blackstrap variety, which is much more bitter.

Marmite or Vegemite

Divisive though they may be, European imports Marmite and Vegemite are both complex, strong, salty flavor bombs that boost the baseline tastes of your chili. You don’t need to go out of your way to buy either one, but if you happen to have a jar in your pantry, why not scoop a smidge into the pot?

15. Sweet Potato Noodles with Kale and Walnut Sage Sauce

Sage inspired the sauce for this dish – a creamy and satisfying concoction. Coconut milk, walnuts, sage and maple syrup work thoroughly well with shallot, kale and garlic to create this delightful sauce. It’s paired with sweet potato noodles as the ideal companion. This is an indulgent, fall inspired Sweet Potato Noodles with Kale and Walnut Sage Sauce from Daniela Modesto you can throw together in 15 minutes!

If you’re looking to redesign your pantry to meet a fiber-rich, gut healthy diet, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!


  1. Mikalmaran

    What necessary words ... Great, remarkable thought

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