The Best Cheap Tailgate Party Ideas
For Any Budget

The average real cost index for NFL fans in 2015 was $920.

If you’re not familiar, this is based on’s Fan Cost Index, but uses secondary market pricing instead of face value.

What NFL fans spend on tailgating
Yes, $920, or 19.34% of the median monthly US household income for that year to attend one game… and it doesn’t even include tailgating.

Perhaps it should, because an 50 million people tailgate each year in the U.S. alone, typically spending about $198 per game.

So if you added $142.84 ($198 - FCI food calculations), the real cost index becomes $1063.46, or 22.4% of the monthly income.

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Since the average American spends about 25% of a month’s salary toward rent, it’s almost like paying for a second rent - not cool!

But unless you’re this person, tailgating is the most fun you can have with your pants on, so it would be a damn shame to not enjoy the ultimate NFL game day experience because of the money.

And because you want to spend cheap without looking cheap, here are some of…

The best tailgate party ideas

  • Use your meat wisely.   Sorry Miley Cyrus - meat is a tailgating essential, and most NFL fans love a good cut of steak. But that doesn't mean that you should serve filet mignon all the time.

    • Tip #1: Dry brining. Despite what you may read, salting your steaks does not perform miracles, but done right, it will make a lesser cut taste more expensive.
    • Tip #2: Use different grades of ground beef. Leaner may be healthier, but it’s also more expensive and not always necessary. Beef with a higher fat content may be optimal for certain recipes.

  • Buy a tailgate grill that’s functional.  Well jeez, how else are you going to cook all that great food? Tip: Unless you're all that, save the top-of-the-line Weber for your backyard and base your selection more on portability than functionality. Learn how to find your ideal tailgate grill..

  • Deregulate your games.  Unless you play in professional tournaments, why shell out big bucks for a regulation-size cornhole board or beer pong table? At 3/4 scale, the smaller versions aren't that much smaller but they are that much cheaper. More on tailgate party games.

  • Brew your own beer.  Home brewed beer not only tastes better, it's cheaper and easier to make than you might think. Read all about it here.

  • Do it yourself.  Whether it’s brewing your own beer or building your own cornhole set or barbecue smoker, doing it yourself will not only save you money, it’s extremely satisfying. Get the 411 on DIY.

The best tailgate parties need the best tailgate party gear. Find incredibly useful, yet affordable, tailgating accessories here.

Stop freezing your a** off!  Stay warm with these cold weather tailgate foods.


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