The fabulous, functional milk crate. What could be more handy, less expensive, and endlessly versatile?
I was thinking about tailgating the other day, and all the things I have to stow and organize and haul and set up and cook and serve. Then I have to pack it all up, stow it, and haul it home again.
[Insert light bulb here and enter the plastic milk crate!]
Beyond their use in storage, milk crates are also helpful in serving food and beverages. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, and you can typically find them in your team colors. Below are my five favorite ways for milk crates to carry your tailgate to the next level.
1. Stow & Haul Stuff
Organize your kitchen tools, grilling supplies, condiments, paper products and other essentials in inexpensive, plastic milk crates. Put labels on each crate so the same things go back in the crates they came in. If you tailgate often, many of these supplies can stay in their crates, stacked neatly in the garage until your next outing. Just grab and go. When you get to the tailgate, crates can be turned sideways for easy access to all your things.
2. Paper Towel Holder
The folks at the food and travel blog, Ever in Transit, came up with the idea to turn a milk crate into a paper towel holder. How clever is that? Paper towels always seem to be unraveling themselves, blowing away or falling on the ground.
3. Stackable Buffet Line
It occurs to me that if you can use the back of your vehicle – say it’s an SUV, pickup truck, or hatchback of some sort, that you can safely use the vertical space to make more out of your buffet line. Turn the crates on their sides and stack two rows in the back of your rig. Plates, silverware and napkins go to the far left, food in the middle, and condiments on the end. How easy is that?
(Speaking your vehicle’s back-end, check out the Hitch Grill Station that attaches to your hitch receiver and pivots 90 degrees to create an outdoor kitchen space. More details below. )
With the help of a pillow, milk crates actually make pretty sturdy little chairs. If you don’t need them to help you cook or serve the burgers and dogs, turn them upside down and sit on them while you eat the burgers and dogs. With some extra time and attention, you can even turn ordinary mild crates into padded storage seats.
5. Be an Ambassador of Good Cheer
I can think of several things to do with a milk crate on wheels –strapped to a bike or a luggage cart or prefabricated with wheels and handle. You’ve just got yourself a mobile beer keg, a grocery cart, or a throne for the Traveling Tailgate Ambassador of Good Cheer.
Decorate with Ribbons: The store doesn’t have your team colors? Want to jazz up your look from basic plastic? Here is how to weave ribbons through your milk crate in team colors.
Seat Slip Covers: If you’re the creative, artsy, sewing type, here are directions for creating swanky slip covers for your milk crates.
Hitch Grill Station: One of the very best ways to create a safe, convenient, functional kitchen space at my tailgate is with the Hitch Grill Station.
- Pivots 90° to the perfect grill station
- Allows full access to back of vehicle
- Cuisinart grill with 240 sq. in. surface
- Large, removable cutting board
- Rack allows room for cooler & extras
- 10-year warranty on Frame & Rack
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