Five Easy Steps to Hosting a Healthy Tailgate


Fall means football, and what’s more fun than going to a game? Sometimes the thought of hosting a tailgate seems daunting, but it’s easier than you think. And it’s just as easy to have a healthy tailgate than to have an unhealthy one! So, buy your tickets, get out your fan gear, and check out some food and prep ideas for a healthy tailgate.

1. Main Dishes

Wraps are perfect when hosting a healthy tailgate. You can make them the night before the game, and they will still taste great the following afternoon. The brand Flat Out tastes good, and it’s easy to cut the wraps in half after you make them…and people with bigger appetites can eat more than one! Wraps are also convenient for tailgates because they don’t require a plate. 

  • Vegetarian option: Hummus, tabbouleh, and crumbled feta cheese. Yum! The tabbouleh adds freshness, and the hummus and feta can fill you up. You can be more creative and add cucumber, baba ghanoush, tomato, or other veggies, as well.
  • Another tasty wrap: Turkey, guacamole, sriracha, and everything bagel seasoning. Lots of flavor, and it’s still healthy! Once again, you can add more ingredients if you’d like (lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese are a few ideas).

*Pro tip: write the type of wrap (using tape or a sticker) on the outside of the wrap, so people know what they’re grabbing.


2. Sides

It’s important to have side dishes that people can eat while they’re socializing, tossing the football with friends, and eating their main course. If you have several different options at your healthy tailgate, people will find something that they enjoy.

  • Fruit: In Michigan in the fall, apples are everywhere! Wash them at home, and bring them in a bowl or Ziploc bag. You can also make a plate of pre-cut fruits on toothpicks or skewers. Since people don’t have to touch the fruit with their hands, their hands don’t get sticky. 
  • Veggie Platter: Wash, cut, and bring them in a Ziploc. When you arrive, display them on a plate with some dip. They are healthy, easy to eat, and make a pretty platter!
  • Peanuts: Peanuts in shells are always a hit. It’s fun to eat them, and they have great flavor. Speaking of flavor, getting different flavors of peanuts adds some interest. Some of the options available from Hampton Farms are Cajun Hot Nuts, Dill Pickle, and Tomato Basil.

3. Dessert

Dessert at a tailgate should be simple and easy. And at a healthy tailgate, people can skip the dessert all-together if they don’t want the extra calories. 

  • Snickers: Having a bowl of leftover Halloween candy is perfect for tailgates: no prep work involved, minimal mess, and easy to transport. If you have the mini candy bars, they are a perfect portion, too. A Fun Size Snickers has 80 calories, so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating it.

4. Drinks

People need to stay hydrated, and it’s cheaper to drink at your tailgate than buy at the stadium or a restaurant.

  • Beer: What’s a tailgate without beer, right? You can bring what your guests prefer. Low cal options (example: Michelob Ultra), so they can have several. Or heavier ones (example: Founders Breakfast Stout), so they enjoy one…but they really enjoy it. Or themed beer options work well, too (Guinness at a Notre Dame tailgate, etc.).
  • Water: It’s always good to have bottled water on hand. People can switch between beer and water, so they don’t get too many calories (or get too drunk!) before the game.
  • Sparkling water: Sparkling water (LaCroix is a good one) adds a twist to plain water. If you have it in a koozie, people won’t know what you’re drinking (cheers to you, pregnant women!).

5. Prep

The key to a successful healthy tailgate is being prepared. Make and prepare things the night before the game. It will make everything much easier in the morning. Also, make sure to have these items on hand:

  • Napkins, paper plates, cups, and utensils
  • Trash bags
  • “Empties” bag (for cans and bottles)
  • Hand wipes

Bigger items that are helpful:

  • 2 coolers (one for drinks and one for food)
  • Ice! (keeps everything cold and at safe temperatures)

Optional items:

  • Table and tablecloth (if you don’t want to eat out of your trunk)
  • Team decorations (flags, tents, etc.)
  • Football
  • Koozies

That’s it! You’re ready!

Do you feel ready to prepare and host a healthy tailgate this season?
Which game will you be attending? And what other healthy tailgate ideas do you have?
If it’s your first tailgate with your baby, check out this article for tips.


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