Before we get started let me tell you that a lot of this info (but not the recipes) came from a website called Tailgating America. When you get a chance, check it out - there is something interesting stuff there.
Plan your menu and do prep work a day or two before the game. Keep the menu simple and pack prepared food in disposable containers. There are lot of foods that can be prepared days before the big event. Think barbecue, chili, stews, baked beans, muffuletta sandwiches, etc. Others can be prepared ahead except for maybe one or two ingredients such as jambalaya, gumbos, meatballs and spaghetti, and red beans and rice. Even hamburgers can be preformed, and then frozen in advance. Just make sure you keep all cooked items frozen or adequately cooled until final preparation at the tailgating site. The more food you can pre-prepare the less time and effort will be required at your tailgating party.
Plan to arrive 3 to 4 hours early and stay 1 to 2 hours after the game for the post game tailgating party wrapup.
Find a good spot to park. Not all parking spaces are created equal! Park next to a grassy area or at the end of the parking row--this gives you more room for serious tailgating!
Fly one of those helium filled balloons on a loooong string so friends can find you.
Decorate your tailgate site with team pennants and other team stuff.
Food should be ready at least two hours before the game starts. This is plenty of time for those going to the game to eat, clean up and extinguish fires.
Share food with neighbors. Swap recipes.
Leave area clean. Begin thinking about food and friends for the next game.
Whenever possible pack your food in zip lock bags (no clean-up).
Use one of those large plastic boxes (Rubbermaid). Stores your paper products in one compartment, spices in another and on the bottom what ever fits. If you need a plate or a cup pull out the drawer and grab one.
Make hamburgers in advance (make sure they are no thicker than 3/4 inch) and freeze between sheets of wax paper. Put on grill still frozen and cook 3 to 4 minutes each side
Large tailgates require a lot of additional help. Have a meeting with tailgating constituents (at a local bar) to plan and distribute responsibilities; write down on paper! One person can not do it all!
Also, a great cooler tip! Get bottled water and freeze it. Place it in your cooler. If it gets hot, you can take it out and as it melts, you will have cold water to drink. Unlike, ice, it won't "water down" your cooler! The bottles make good ice packs.
Line your portable grill with aluminum foil for easy clean-up and disposal of spent charcoal.
Perhaps, the most important thing to do is MAKE A LIST. Load your vehicle the night before with everything except perishable items. Check off the items as you load them.
TENT - When everybody else is in their car or truck avoiding the rain, you'll be cooking!
JUMPER CABLES - After a great tailgate party, some would love to stay in the parking lot forever...but everyone might not share that thought. Especially valuable if you're running electrical appliances off an inverter hooked up to your vehicle.
PLASTIC TRASH BAGS FOR CLEAN UP - A dedicated tailgater always respects their surroundings and leaves it clean.
EXTRA ICE - There is no excuse to ever run out of ice. Just bring a full extra ice chest and enjoy.
FIRST AID KIT - Just in case that football hits you in the head.
COMFORTABLE SHOES - I know it's a no-brainer but sometimes we forget how much we visit and with the right shoes you can walk to your stomach's content.
ANTACID - With all the foods consumed at the tailgate, we need some help. Remember defense wins championships.
CHAIRS - It seems like such a little thing but many rookies forget them.
FOLDING TABLE(S) - Absolutely indispensable. A place to put all the plates, napkins, flatware, drinks, ice, food, and a place to sit down and eat. A whole lot better than trying to balance paper plates in your lap.
WATER - Not only to extinguish the grill but also for general clean-up. Bring at least two gallons.
PROPANE - Make sure the propane bottles are full - better yet, bring two.
TOILET PAPER - The MVP (most valuable product) of the parking lot. If your stadium doesn't have readily accessible indoor restrooms, don't get caught with your pants down in a Port-A-Potty with no TP.
Ok, you've been patient enought. Lets get on to some easy recipes that will elevate your tailgate party from the "hamburger and hot dog crowd." Just click here on Tailgate Recipes to get started.