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Football Party: “Build-Your-Own” Food Bar

Serve up the perfect game-day food—without having to miss a minute of the game.

Feeding a crowd is never an easy task, but it’s especially challenging when your guests are hungry, rowdy football fans. Unless you feel like spending the entire afternoon in the kitchen instead of in front of the TV with everyone else, finding foods that people can easily put together themselves is your best bet for easy entertaining during football season. If you’re drawing a blank as to what kinds of foods people can assemble themselves, repeat these five words to yourself right now: Build-Your-Own food bars.

“Build-Your-Own” food bars are perfect for the host or hostess who doesn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen, customizing certain dishes to different people’s tastes. They are essentially buffets where people can customize each dish to their own liking; just lay out your ingredients on the table and let people build their own creations. And, lots of foods that are perfect for do-it-yourself bars just so happen to also be great for football watching. Try out some of these ideas at your next tailgate or party—you’ll be amazed at how much time you save.

Build-Your-Own Taco Bar
Brown some meat, lay out your tortillas and your work is done!

Put out these condiments: shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, sliced cherry tomatoes

Build-Your-Own Chili Bar
Cook up some chili in the crockpot and set it out for people to ladle into their own bowls.

Put out these condiments: jalapeños, shredded cheese, green onions, sour cream

Build-Your-Own Sandwich Bar
Slice and toast some bread or hamburger buns and lay out an assortment of deli meats or a crockpot of barbecue chicken or beef for people to build their own sandwiches.

Put out these condiments: mustard, mayonnaise, peppers, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, pesto, olives

Build-Your-Own Baked Potato Bar
Microwave or oven cook a potato or two for each guest and have them each make their own hearty potato creation.

Put out these condiments: chili or Sloppy Joes filling, steamed broccoli, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, green onions, bacon bits, salsa, chives, salt and pepper

Build-Your-Own Sundae Bar
This one is the easiest of all: set out tubs of ice cream and ice cream scoops so guests can build their own sundaes! Heat up some brownies or cookies if you’re feeling extra generous.

Put out these condiments: chocolate sauce, caramel, cherries, sprinkles, peanuts, strawberries, chocolate chips, marshmallows

How much easier can you get? Aside from prepping and buying the ingredients for each bar, there’s almost no work involved on your part, but you’re guaranteed to have a room full of happy and full guests.

Here’s an easy recipe for Sweet n’ Smoky Ham Sandwiches that could be perfect for a build-your-own sandwich bar—just heat up the ham and Sloppy Joes sauce beforehand and lay out the hamburger buns, pineapple and green peppers, along with any other ingredients you think your guests would enjoy.

Sweet n’ Smoky Ham Sandwiches


  • 1 can (15 oz each) Manwich® Original Sloppy Joe Sauce
  • 1 pound thin-sliced lower sodium honey ham
  • 1 pkg (12 oz each) whole grain white hamburger buns, toasted
  • 8 green bell pepper rings
  • 1 can (8 oz each) crushed pineapple in juice, drained


  1. Heat Sloppy Joe sauce in medium skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Add ham; heat until hot, stirring gently.
  2. Divide meat mixture evenly between bottom halves of buns. Top each with bell pepper ring and a generous tablespoon of pineapple. Cover with tops of buns. Serve immediately.

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