Healthy Living Blog

Fan Favorite Tailgate Foods

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor,


Tina Miller 2011


Most sports fans are equally passionate about their tailgates and their team.  What are some of the top foods served up at tailgates?  While fan favorites vary, here are some of the most popular foods served up at tailgate celebrations:



  • Chili
  • Wings
  • “Stuff on Sticks”
  • Burgers
  • Sausage
  • Pulled Pork
  • Ribs
  • Nachos / Tacos
  • Layered Dips
  • Potato Salad
  • Brownies (cut ‘em into fun football shapes!)

Tips for a great tailgate:

  1. The Menu:  Plan a menu that takes advantage of foods in peak season, from grilled zucchini early in the tailgate season, to chili topped potatoes later in the season. Also, plan your menu to balance out your “labor”.  Don’t include too many dishes that require extensive time or effort.  Balance more complex dishes with simple to prepare items or pick up pre-made items (such as Meijer deli meat trays, vegetable trays, salads and fruit platters).
  2. Offer a variety of foods:  Include several healthy options and add in a few indulgent treats for fun.  Balance high calories foods, such as bratwurst, with fresh vegetables and light dips.
  3. Have snacks available:  Fruit, nuts, crackers, cheese, chips, dips, hummus; you get the idea.  Make sure that food is available whenever your tailgating guests are enjoying alcoholic beverages.  For a lighter sweet treats, serve sliced Michigan Apples with light caramel apple dip (coat apple slices with pineapple juice to prevent browning).
  4. Keep it safe:  Hot foods need to be kept hot—a propane or charcoal grill can help to keep foods warm outdoors.  Keep cold foods chilled using coolers packed with plenty of ice.  Store coolers in a shaded area (even when it’s cool outside—the heat of the sun can raise the temperature inside the cooler).
  5. Have plenty of non-alcoholic options available.  Water, carbonated beverages, tea (iced or hot), and coffee drinks are great options to alcohol.  Try preparing special beverages for your guests, such as a simple blend of pink lemonade (2/3 cup) with cranberry juice (1/3 cup).


Game Day Recipes:

These simple and delicious recipes are sure to please any hungry crowd!


Fiesta 7 Layer Dip

Serves 14 (1/2 cup servings)


1 can (10 oz.) Meijer Naturals diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 can (16 oz.) Meijer Refried beans

1 1/2 cups (about 1 – 12 oz. container) Wholly Guacamole®

1 container (16 oz.) Meijer reduced fat sour cream

1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) reduced sodium taco seasoning mix

1 cup shredded 2% milk cheddar cheese (or Mexican blend cheese)

1 small can (2.25 oz.) Meijer sliced ripe olives, drained

¼ cup sliced green onion


Serve with Tostitos® tortilla scoops



  1. Reserve ½ cup drained tomatoes; set aside.  Blend remaining tomatoes (including liquid) with beans in a medium bowl.
  2. Spread bean mixture in an 8×8-inch dish or round casserole dish.  Top with guacamole.
  3. Blend sour cream with taco seasoning mix.  Spread over guacamole.
  4. Top evenly with layers of cheese, olives, green onions and reserved tomatoes.
  5. Chill 2 hours prior to serving.  Serve with Meijer tortilla chips.


Recipe adapted from Meijer Taste of the Game 2011


Guacamole Potato Salad

A delicious (and healthy) twist on an al- time fan favorite side dish!

Serves 8


2lbs. small red potatoes, cleaned

2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and mashed

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, whites only, finely chopped

1 large serrano pepper, seeded and minced

½ tsp. salt, or to taste


1. Place potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with water and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing one potato with a fork. The fork should slide in with gentle resistance. Continue cooking if not done, otherwise carefully drain the potatoes and refrigerate them until cold.

2. Cut potatoes in bite-sized pieces (quarter or dice depending on size of potato). Place in a large bowl.

3. Stir in remaining ingredients, adjust salt to taste and serve immediately.

Serving Suggestion: If made in advance, sprinkle generously with lemon juice and place a layer of plastic wrap right on the surface of the Guacamole Potato Salad and refrigerate. Before serving taste the salad and add additional mashed California Avocado if needed.

Nutrition information (per serving):  Calories 140; Fat 6 g Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 45; Carbohydrates 21 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Protein 3 g.

Recipe Source: California Avocado Commission


Fiery Adobo Pork Skewers:

A simple and satisfying tailgate snack on a stick!

Serves 4


1/4 cup Chopped (or pureed) chilies in adobo sauce

3 Tbsp. Meijer light brown sugar

3 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice

1 (1 ¼ lb.) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 2” cubes

1 ½ Sweet bell pepper (orange, red, or yellow) seeded and cut into 2” pieces

1 Red onion, cut into 2” pieces


  1. Combine chilies, brown sugar and lime juice in a large bowl.
  2. Season pork cubes with salt and pepper; add to chili mixture and toss to coat.  Allow to marinate 3-4 hours.
  3. Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat to medium (350 degrees).
  4. On each of 4 skewers, alternately thread bell pepper, onion and pork.
  5. Place skewers on grill and grill about 6-8 minutes per side.
  6. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 230, Fat 6g, Cholesterol 83mg, Sodium 100mg, Carbohydrate 13g, Fiber 1.5g, Protein 30g.


White Bean Chicken Chili

Makes about 8 cups


2 cups (about 1/2 pound) chicken breast cut in small chunks

1 Tbsp. Meijer olive oil

1 (48 oz.) jar white northern beans—do not drain

1 1/2 Tbsp. McCormick ground cumin

1 1/2 cups Salsa (mild, medium or hot depending on your preference)

2 cups Meijer shredded Monterey jack, Colby jack or cheddar cheese


  1. In a large pot sauté chicken in olive oil until no longer pink.  (Shortcut:  Use shredded rotisserie chicken).
  2. Add beans, cumin, and salsa and heat until bubbly.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add cheese, stirring until melted.

Serving Suggestion:  Scoop up chili with Meijer tortilla chips and reduced fat Meijer sour cream

Recipe source:  Meijer, Easy Meals Healthy Families guidebook, 2013.


Game Day Greek Burgers

Serves 4


1 lb. Certified Angus Beef, Ground Round

1/4 cup Feta Cheese

1 cup Earthbound Farms ® Spinach, chopped

1/4 tsp. McCormick dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Tzatziki Sauce:

1- 6 oz. container Meijer non-fat plain Greek yogurt

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. McCormick garlic powder

½ tsp. McCormick dried oregano

2 tbsp. diced cucumber

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix tzatziki sauce ingredients together.


  1. Mix together ground beef, feta, spinach, and salt and pepper.
  2. Form beef mixture into small burgers or sliders and grill for 5-6 minutes per side.
  3. Top with tzatziki sauce.
  4. Serve on whole- wheat mini hamburger buns or in grilled pita (optional).

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 247, Fat 12 g, Cholesterol 75 mg, Sodium 151 mg, Carbohydrate 4 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 25 g