5 Tailgate Tips to Save Money

Football season is here along with all it entails—think throwing a few spirals, drinking a few cold beers and chilling in the parking lot before the big game.

But paying jacked-up ticket and food prices every weekend can get as old as Brett Favre’s annual retirement act. Here are five ways to have a great tailgate experience for less whether you’re a college or pro ball fan.

1. Form a Team
We all know gas isn’t cheap, but parking’s also expensive at NFL games—try $30 per car at Denver’s Mile High Stadium tailgating lot. Go in with fellow fans to cut the cost of traveling to the game and staking out that prime grilling space.

2. Look for Deals
School ties can save you money: Check with your college alumni association for game day deals as many groups offers ticket, buffet and alcohol combos. Vanderbilt alumni can get a $48 special to cheer on the Commodores; it includes a game ticket, food, soda and beer.

3. Plan with Budgeting in Mind
Ground beef and less expensive meat cuts like tri-tip steak are perfect for slow cooking. If you get an early start on game day, put together a big batch classic like chili or beef stew for an economical way to feed hungry fans. Remember: using a marinade can be an economical way to dress up a cheaper cut of meat.

4. Buy in Bulk
Wholesale clubs should be your first stop for chips, soda and condiments. Don’t worry about waste —large quantities of these nonperishable items can last the whole season in the trunk next to your lawn chairs and foam fingers (and antacids).

5. Bring Beer to Barter
Beer can do more than wash down tailgating fare. It’s also an effective bartering tool in the parking lot. If you didn’t bring your own food, try trading a few Buds (Stock Quote: BUD) or Silver Bullets (Stock Quote: TAP) for a spicy brat or half smoke before you head into the stadium.

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