How to gather for a healthier tailgate party

Healthy and tailgate are not exactly terms that you often hear paired together. And while gathering together with your friends to hang out, eat and indulge in a few adult beverages is not the time to be worried about your diet, there are ways to put a healthier spin on it all so you can have fun and feel good.

How to gather for a healthier tailgate party via A Lady Goes West

Being that I’m a born-and-raised Florida girl, now living the Bay Area, I’ve done my fair share of tailgating. Sometimes it actually involves sitting on the back of a truck, but more times than not, it doesn’t. In fact, as a student at University of Florida, I was lucky enough to have friends whose parents had a highly coveted spot in a reserved area exclusively for big RVs, which is where we spent much of our pre- and post-game time during Gator football season. Oh those are some memories, that’s for sure. And just last month, I was able to tailgate before an Ohio State game in Columbus, while visiting friends, and it was so fun.

That’s the beauty of “tailgating” — is that it’s a chance to get together outdoors with people who have common interests with you, chat, share stories and play games — all in anticipation of an event. Whether that’s a concert, football game or other, it really doesn’t matter. In fact to me, sometimes tailgating is actually a better time than whatever you’re tailgating for. Am I right? Now let’s get to the healthy spin …

Ways to add some healthy to your tailgate party

While having fun should be your top priority, there are a few ways to make sure that both you and your friends make a few better and healthier choices …

Swap out chips for veggies and create an easy protein-filled dip …

If the dip is good enough, you don’t even need chips, I promise. I made this super-easy and tasty dip (which was totally devoured at a recent party) in no time at all, and it’s easily transportable. Simply mix one bag of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix with 16 ounces of 2-percent plain Greek yogurt, and voila. I mean, it couldn’t get much easier than that.

Easy ranch dip via A Lady Goes West

And of course, with a plethora of dipping vegetables, your friends can gather around the bowl and eat as much as they want. I didn’t tell many of the guys eating this dip that it was Greek yogurt until they were already hooked. I loved seeing the surprise on their faces.

Get active and play games …

After you’ve polished off the healthy dip, get moving. One of the best things about tailgating is that you’re outside and allowed to move around. Some of my favorite activities include walking around to people-watch and playing corn-hole (you know, the game where there are wood boards with holes in them and you try and throw a little bag into the whole against an opponent). You wouldn’t believe how many steps you can log when checking out other peoples’ party set-ups (or walking back and forth to the bathroom, right?). I’ve been to so many tailgate parties, where you actually end up meeting new people when playing games, which is a nice and unexpected twist.

Get your grill on …

Rather than buying a bunch of packaged fried chicken or pizza for your tailgate party, bring lean meat and gather around a grill to cook it up to your liking, using your favorite spices. It’s much better to be in charge of what goes in and on your food. And utilizing a grill at the party means that you get to choose your most trustworthy friend to man the flames. Fun times. Choose wisely. 

Make water easily accessible and dress it up …

The number one problem with day-time hanging out in a tailgate setting is the fact that people tend to slack on the water. For all of my parties, whether they are inside or out, I always have my favorite extra large mason jar full of infused-water. I mean, why waste a bunch of plastic bottles, which will inevitably be the last things left in the bottom of the cooler? Just make it easy for your friends by putting the water out front and center.

Drink more water at a healthy tail-gate via A Lady Goes West

Cucumber is my favorite addition to water, but lemon, raspberry or even mint work well too. And when this lovely set-up is staring at you in the face, you and your friends are much more likely to hydrate throughout the day. And if you are choosing to throw back a couple of adult beverages, remember to drink a big glass of water between each. You’ll be very glad you did.

Let’s be real, tailgate parties are laid-back, fun get-togethers meant to be enjoyed. You definitely don’t want to go into one feeling restricted, but with these tips, you’re sure to make a few better choices. And if you make the dip, don’t tell anyone that it’s actually made with Greek yogurt and see if they notice. Good stuff.

Find more party inspiration with Gather Now

If you’re planning to host a get-together with your friends one day soon, may I suggest you check out the Gather Now tumblr, which is an awesome site for inspiration on how to add something extra to all of your social engagements. Happy gathering to you, my friends!

Gather for a healthier tailgate party today with these tips ... #GatherNow #tailgate #food  Share on X

**Disclaimer: Please note that this post is sponsored by Gather, which is owned by The Clorox Family, and The Clorox Family is the parent company of Hidden Valley. While I did receive product and was compensated, all the thoughts and opinions are my own. And as you know, I love to talk about food and parties, so it’s a win-win for us all. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that help keep the lights on around here.

Questions of the day

Have you gone to a tailgate party?

What’s your favorite tailgate food?

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  1. In college and grad school I tailgated every Saturday like it was my job! Go Iowa State πŸ™‚ I agree, tailgating isn’t the time to be worried about healthy eating but sneaking in a few healthy habits during the day can never hurt!

    1. Ditto! And no, I was a lot less worried about being healthy back in college too. But these days, I’m definitely all about the WATER, in addition to the fun!! πŸ™‚ Happy day to you, Becky!

  2. I always make sure to have a water bottle with me at all times, so at least I will be hydrated! Tailgating and getting together at a friends house to watch football can be tough to eat healthy, but I try to more these days!

    1. Hi Marielle! I know! And you definitely don’t have to stick to your normal eating, but just a few swaps here and there can help. πŸ™‚ Happy day to you, lady!

  3. Love this – and glad you enjoyed tailgating in beautiful Ohio! It’s not a bad place to have gone to college, ha!

    I actually had a sample of the Hidden Valley mix on a recent grocery visit. Great idea to use it for tailgating. Can’t lie, I’m usually the one bringing stereotypical chips/hummus or cupcakes, and devouring boneless wings. This sounds like a great opportunity to mix it up. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jessica! You can get into whatever you want food-wise of course, but just a FEW swaps — like extra water and movement are certainly worthy to make the day better. πŸ™‚ And where did you go to college??

    1. I always think it’s better than the event itself hahahah! And who would have thought you could make a dip SOOO tasty with just a powder packet and Greek yogurt. I love it! Happy Thursday, Heather!! πŸ™‚

  4. Love these tips, Ashley! I tend to indulge during fun activities like tailgating, although I tend to eat pretty well most of the time, so it’s not so bad. πŸ™‚ I am a sucker for buffalo chicken dip–I always devour it when it’s around!

  5. I honestly never did much tailgating we just had football parties! I loved making the food, we always had some healthy choices too! I loved baking up some potatoes and grilling out some chicken and shrimp for everyone!

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