Tailgating Food Groups October 10 2013

You can hear the helmets and pads crashing and the roar of the crowds not far away - but you're not worried because life is good at the tailgate party. Why get jostled about and sit with the masses in the nosebleed section when you can kick back from the comfort of a lawn chair and watch all the football action from a rigged up big screen under your pop-up tent. Enjoying food and beverage in the parking lot before, during and after the game has become has become as popular, as if not more anticipated, than the actually getting through the stadium turnstile. At a tailgate party, there are no long lines at a concession stand, no outrageous prices - just good food and free-flowing beer! If you're in charge of tailgate party snacks, make sure that you have all the important food groups covered:

Grilled Meat Group: No self-respecting host would overlook the grill; the grill is typically the centerpiece of the spread. Your carnivorous pals' nostrils will quiver in anticipation of ribs, steaks, burgers, sausages or whatever you're cooking up. Make lasting impression, by searing the football team logo into the meat with a collegiate or NFL team steak iron. This tools make great grilling gifts for guys.

Chip and Dip Group: Nobody can stop at just one chip, so fill up numerous bowls with an array of crunchy snacks. Add a few dips (even veggies, for the health conscious)and guests can mix-and-match with endless combinations crunch on creamy goodness.

Soup Group: From stews, chilies, soups or "stoups", folks can stay warm with entrees that can be slurped up from a mug. In addition to keeping fingers from frostbite, serving stews and such keep fans who are always jumping up and down from dumping their plates on the ground.

Sugary Group: Go for a couple sweet options than can be picked up and eaten with the fingers, such as football shaped cookies or cups of caramel corn. There are only so many beers and burgers that can fuel the afternoon; these high-carb sweet options will give everyone the quick energy boost needed to cheer into the night!