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A Game Day Inspired Meal Plan

A Game Day Inspired Meal Plan

The recipe and photography for this post was provided by Carolyn Hodges of The Dinner Shift.

Cheering on the brown and orange, or your favorite college football team this weekend? We’ve planned a simple tailgate-inspired dinner you can enjoy from the comforts of your living room! This makes enough for a family of 4 to 6, but can easily be doubled for a gathering.

The Menu: Chili 3 Ways

Here’s the Game Plan

Start by making a batch of this Slow Cooker Chili con Carne. It calls for very little prep and can even be cooked a day ahead, (or through the night) so it’s ready to serve on game day. Serve the chili in bowls, or try something fun and use it for a Loaded Sweet Potato or Nacho Bar!

  • Option 1: Classic Loaded Chili Bowls
    Serve the chili the classic way, in bowls with all the toppings, and cornbread on the side.
  • Option 2: Loaded Sweet Potatoes
    For a fun spin on a loaded potato bar, split whole roasted sweet potatoes and serve them topped with chili and cheese.
  • Option 3: Chili Nachos
    Line a half sheet-pan with tortilla chips, then top them with beef chili and cheese and bake! Serve with classic nacho toppings, like salsa, avocado and sour cream.

Shopping Roster


  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • Garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1-2 avocados
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 4-6 medium sweet potatoes


  • 16-ounce jar tomato salsa, plus more for serving
  • 2- 14.5-ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 14.5 ounce can beef broth or stock
  • 14.5 ounce can black beans
  • Corn tortilla chips


  • 2 ½ – 3-pound boneless beef chuck or rump roast

Dairy/ Deli

  • Shredded Mexican-style cheese
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt


  • Heinen’s cornbread


  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Oregano
  • Brown mustard
  • Kosher salt

Meal #1: Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 8-9 Hours


  • 2 ½ – 3-pound boneless beef chuck or rump roast
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 16 oz. tomato salsa
  • 2- 14.5-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp.chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. brown mustard
  • 2 Tbsp.tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup beef broth or stock
  • 1- 14.5 oz. can black beans
  • Cilantro, chopped


  1. In a large slow cooker, combine all ingredients through beef stock. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.
  2. Remove the roast and shred with two forks ( then chop into bite-size pieces if you prefer) and return to the slow cooker. Stir in black beans and a large handful of chopped cilantro. Season to taste with additional salt.

Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Slow Cooker Chili con Carne.

Meal #2: Beef Chili Nachos

Prep Time: 15 Minutes


  • Flour or corn Tortilla Chips
  • Leftover chili, any variety*
  • Toppings: salsa, sliced bell peppers, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, sliced black olives, sour cream, etc.

*This chili con carne ( above) is our favorite beef chili, but we also love this vegan version. If you’re looking for a tomato-free chili, here is an awesome white chicken chili


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. For easy cleanup, line a half sheet pan with parchment ( optional.) Line the sheet pan with a layer of tortilla chips.
  2. In a saucepan, bring leftover ( or canned) chili to a simmer.
  3. Top chips with spoonfuls of chili. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Pake in preheated oven for 6-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
  4. To serve, top nachos with salsa, diced green onions, sliced baby bell peppers, fresh cilantro, etc.

Leftover Chili Nachos

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Leftover Chili Nachos.

Meal #3: Chili-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 cups leftover chili, any variety
  • Diced avocado, sliced green onions, shredded cheese

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes:

  • In the Oven: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with foil. Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce a few time with a sharp knife. Rost for 30-45 minutes, until tender.
  • In the Microwave: Scrub sweet potato and pierce a few times with a sharp knife. Place in a microwave-safe casserole dish. Add enough water to cover the bottom, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes or 6-8 or two potatoes.
  • In the Instant Pot: Place 4 sweet potatoes on a steamer tray and add enough water to cover bottom ( about 1 cup). Secure lid and use manual mode to set for 15 minutes on high pressure. When time is up, let the steam release naturally for 10 minutes. Cooked sweet potatoes will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, so they’re perfect for meal prep.

Assembly Directions:

  1. Split potatoes down the center lengthwise, being careful not to slice all the way through. Heat leftover chili in a saucepan until steaming ( or microwave.) Top each sweet potato with chili and toppings.

Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Chili-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

Carolyn Hodges

By Carolyn Hodges

Carolyn is a mom of boys and culinary dietitian in Cleveland, Ohio. The Dinner Shift is dedicated to helping busy moms get dinner on the table after the weekday grind, however that is defined for you and yours.

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