The third half

20 Mar

The third half?  Isn’t a half 1 of 2 parts?  As in first half and/or second half?  My youngest son has played rugby the past couple of years.  Always the athlete, he also plays football, swims on a team, and golfs.  Some kids are just born with instinctive athletic ability.  Lucky!  My son not only has athletic talent, but has the heart to go with it.  In my opinion, you cannot have one without the other.  When you have an athletic child that excels at multiple sports, you are always in some “season”.  And right now, we are smack dab in the middle of rugby season.

Rugby, by many accounts, started in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.  It is now known internationally and played in many countries, including the United States.  It is similar to football, but there is no protective equipment.  The field is the same, the ball is similar, but the rules vary from american football.  It is a great sport, and loads of fun to watch.

There are 2 halves played in rugby.  Followed by a third half.  Excuse me?  Third half?  Yup!  A term that is sure to drive any mathematician wild!  The third half is basically the time, after the game, when the parents of the home team players put out a side line food buffet.  The guest team goes through the line first, the home team second, then the parents.  It is a great opportunity to share food, fellowship, and exciting recaps of the game.  It is a wonderful tradition for our rugby league.

The parents all pitch in to make food to bring for our third half.  It is great fun for sure.  And many hands make light work, so every one eats after a long rugby match with little effort.  And it is budget friendly too.  But that begs the question…what is easy to bring to a third half?  Well, a little forethought must go into food that is to be transported, will sit for a period of time, needs to be kept at a safe temperature, and has good flavor.  Here are some ideas:

*Grapes: I always cut the big bunches into little bunches.  It should be easy to grab a small bunch, is hydrating, and oh so sweet!

*Nuts: You have to be aware of allergies, but these are a great source of protein, shelf stable, and easily transported.  Toss in some dried fruit too!

*Sandwiches:  Whether you are making a huge honkin sandwich or a simple PBJ, a paper plate full of these always goes fast!  Cut the sandwiches into quarters to make them finger food friendly.  A favorite of my sons is to take little dinner rolls and fill them with ham, swiss cheese, and mustard.  (Props to my children-with their german heritage and being from Chicago, mustard is a MUST on sandwiches!).  Use hogie rolls, wheat toast, pita pockets, anything goes here.

*Forget the bread:  A plate of simple rolled up lunch meat and cubed cheese is fabulous!

*Popcorn:  Yes, that’s right.  Microwave some popcorn before you walk out the door, pour it into a bowl, and step back!

*Fruit chunks and toothpicks: with the toothpicks being the critical component here.  Lets face it, kids love to grab any kind of weapon, and toothpicks actually count in this case!

*Muffins:  I make small fruit muffins, like apple sauce muffins or banana muffins.  Spray the pans and forget the little paper liners.  They pop out of the pan, can go easily to the field, and are a great grab and go food!

*Chips and salsa:  A relatively healthy option if you get baked chips and some fresh salsa.

*Hard boiled or deviled eggs:  however stinky these are, they are always a crowd pleaser!  When you make them, they stink up the fridge.  When you transport them, the cooler smells.  Pull them out, and everyone knows in an instant.  But watch the crowd!  This is where they will hover, compliment, and grab!  (Note to parents:  hide some of these or else the kids will grab them all!).

*Skewers of anything!  Be creative here.  Cheese, olives, sausage, tomatoes, grapes, melon chunks, berries, get creative.  And include a dip like vanilla yogurt if you are going the fruit route or mustard/spicy mayo if you are going the savory meat and cheese route.

*Relish plate: Pickles, peppers, cucumbers.

*Hummus and crunchy pita chips:  The bold flavor of hummus with the delicious satisfying crunch of pita chips is a side line winner!

Now this isn’t just for rugby.  Take this food to all the sporting events.  Start your own team traditions and have a blast.  Enjoy the fellowship of the kids and the parents.  But always remember to keep your food safe.  Here are some tips:

Keep cold food cold.

Make what you can the night before and store in fridge.  Use commercial reusable “blue ice” blocks to keep food cold.

Put all food in insulated coolers with lots of cold packs, both under and on top of food.  Pack food tight.

Put food in/on disposable plates, bowls and platters.  Go home with nothing!  Throw everything away at the end of the meal.

Bring: Disposable hand wipes, garbage bags,  a roll of paper towels, plastic utensils and forks, ice, cups.

Plan a little, rally the troops to help, and enjoy your day at the field!

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