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Does your love of the outdoors find you making your way to the ski resort at every available opportunity? In this pandemic time, many resort experiences are different than in year’s past. Lodge time is discouraged or limited, and many places require personal vehicles to be used as a “basecamp,” with tailgating encouraged. Winter tailgating is the perfect idea for traditional foodies who prefer sticking with clean eating while on the mountain! And when done correctly, it enhances the fun of a ski day. But what’s the best tailgating food to make during the winter?
There’s a variety of traditional foods that are perfectly suited for winter tailgating. While I love enjoying my favorite foods in the crisp, fresh air, it’s important to be smart about winter tailgating. No one wants to be miserable while relishing the great outdoors, so it’s important to plan ahead for maximum comfort.
Tailgating Food to Fill Your Belly
Cold weather combined with the exertion of skiing or snowshoeing is not the time to be limiting your calories. Food provides the fuel your body needs as the temperatures drop. Without that fuel, you might find yourself starving well before lunch! To help curb hunger before (or after) tailgating time, we keep a snack zipped up in our jacket. A zipper bag with jerky, granola, or trail mix is perfect. We also keep a stash of purchased individually wrapped snack bars for this purpose. My husband loves Bobo bars, while my son likes granola bars, and I love Kind bars.
My son is part of a downhill ski club and skis hard for several hours at a time. My husband and I alternate between downhill skiing and cross country skiing (or snowshoeing) depending on the week. In addition to keeping our bellies full, we also take time to hydrate.
Cold weather makes it more challenging to want to drink cold water. I take a small container of apple cider vinegar, along with sea salt and liquid stevia to make an electrolyte-type drink. The extra flavoring makes the water go down easy! We keep not only plain water but also hot water in a thermos and bring tea bags, coffee packets, and hot cocoa.
Healthy Premade Snacks
I keep a canvas bag prepacked and ready to go with nonperishable snacks plus plates, cups, silverware, and other miscellaneous items. Before we hit the road, I put any refrigerated items in a hot/cold bag.
- Raw Milk Yogurt (made in the Instant Pot)
- Homemade Cottage Cheese
- Hummus with crackers
- Grain-Free Maple Nut Granola
- Homemade Larabars
- Pimento Cheese Dip
- Ground Meat Jerky
- Dehydrated fruits and veggies (learn how to dehydrate anything here)
- Crunchy Granola Snack Bites
- Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers
- Trail mix (I make my own with assorted nuts, shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted coconut flakes, and dried cranberries.)
- Smoothies (Make ahead and freeze. When kept in a non-insulated bag, they are somewhat slushy and perfect for an after-ski snack.)
For us, we’ve found taking our already prepared meals works best. I do my cooking a day or two in advance so we can get out the door in a hurry on ski morning. Soup, salad, and bread or crackers are our normal fare.
In the case of salad, I prepack them in individual containers and stash them in the fridge. While I prefer glass for food storage, I make an exception for ski days as a caution against breakage. Individual containers make serving easy. The cold items then go in a hot/cold bag.
My husband loves when I make quesadillas. I make them in the morning, wrap them in a paper towel, put them in a zipper bag, and then tuck them in a hot/cold bag. They’re still warm for lunch. For a soup and salad lunch, I’ll sometimes heat up bread and stow in the same manner as I do quesadilla. Warm bread in cold temps, yum!
Soups, stews, or chili are made in advance, reheated in the morning (or I’ll cook them overnight in the crockpot so they’re hot and ready) then ladled into a warmed thermos. Warming the thermos with hot water while the soup heats keep things hot longer. As an extra layer, the thermoses are stored in a small cooler. I put a couple of hot pads on the bottom and cover it all with a dishtowel. Hot soup is ready for lunch!
- Sweet Potato Chili
- Creamy Black Bean Soup
- Beef and Cabbage Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Creamy Apple and Carrot Soup
- Potato Salad
- Sprouted Lentil Salad
- Jalapeño Cabbage Slaw
- Quesadillas made with cheese, beans and/or meat
- No-knead bread
- Swirl bread or rolls
Cook On Location
Cooking on site can make for a fun change of pace. A double or single burner propane stove makes for a quick and easy heat up. For next year, I have my eye on this wood burning Solo stove. My friend has a similar model and not only does its shape make for quick heat but it gives out a little warmth too.
- Sausage or Brats
- Burgers (pre-form the patties)
- Sloppy Joes (make a day or two before and reheat)
- Skillet Dishes (a great way to use up leftover beans, meat, grains, and veggies – precut veggies and meat the day before)
- Soups (made in advance and reheated on-site)
- Leftovers (choose items that reheat easily on a stovetop)