What to serve up at a tailgate may seem like a no-brainer, but a little forethought will ensure that you and your fellow football fanatics enjoy a memorable meal. Hot dogs, chili and burgers are all acceptable tailgating fare. However, let it be known that only the novice tailgater serves up the same foods repeatedly throughout the season, so don’t be afraid to get a little creative. But don’t overdo the creativity. There is no such thing as a “tailgating delicacy,” so leave the frou-frou finger foods and cold sandwiches at home (unless you plan on grilling the contents of said sandwich).

One creative way to prevent your tailgating menu from getting stale is to incorporate the use of foods that serve double duties, versatile dishes that have multiple applications. Not sure what to prepare for an upcoming tailgating outing? Check out the following tailgating staples complete with tips on how to make them perform various functions.

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Chili – You really can’t go wrong with a warm bowl of chili. Whether you decide to prepare it from scratch ahead of time or eat it straight from the can, chili can easily be heated up and kept warm on the grill. Bring along shredded cheese and sour cream to dress up a simple bowl of chili. Alternatively, smother a boring hot dog with chili to create a tasty chili dog.

Are you planning on making your chili ahead of time from scratch? Experiment with using different types of meat like chicken or steak, or make it decidedly midwestern with the addition of venison.

Hamburgers – Hamburgers are an obvious choice and are easy to prepare ahead of time (or purchased pre-made from your local grocery store). These patties can easily be jazzed up with the addition of popular condiments like ketchup and mustard, but using atypical ones like salsa and guacamole can add a unique spin. Make your average burger perform double duties by using condiments to change the flavor profile.

Adding condiments to a cooked burger isn’t the only way to spice things up. Why not create your very own Juicy Lucy as an homage to the popular burger that was invented in Minneapolis? To create your own, simply add your cheese of choice to the inside of your patty during preparation. This is easily done by creating two thin hamburger patties and crimping them closed around a block of cheesy goodness.

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Do you get bored with beef? Experiment with other meats. Try grilling up a chorizo burger.

Bacon – Grilled bacon is amazing, and amazingly versatile. Bring a pack along and the football game won’t be the only thing attracting attention. Whether you choose to cook it up and serve it as a snack or use it to accessorize another dish (bacon burger, chili with bacon, chili dog with bacon, etc.), the presence of bacon will ensure your tailgating party will be remembered.

If you’re not a meat eater, bring along Boca burgers, soy dogs, mushroom caps and vegetarian chili in lieu of meat. Sorry, but there is no acceptable substitution for bacon.

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.

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Post Author: Christina Kalinowski. A Minnesota native that was born and raised Up North, Minneapolis is where Christina Kalinowski currently calls home. Christina appreciates irony, loves bacon, enjoys a hearty libation (drink responsibly, folks), and is an avid proponent of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.