Rock-solid, cheapo-cheapo eats

OK, time to share some of those super simple, super cheapo camping dinners I’ve been sampling for the last few summers. All of these have tested out in the boonies, and all have been found to be surprisingly satisfying. Use them if you want to travel light or just desire an easy evening between your regularly scheduled, highly planned, labor-intensive dinner feasts.

1. The A-C-S special. This would be apple, chips and salsa. Just an ace of a dinner. Honest. Much of your pleasure here depends on your apple selection, so take your time while shopping and make sure you get the best god dang apples in the store.

For drinks, have cold water with the apple (make sure you eat the whole thing), and then a couple of your favorite beers with the chips and salsa. Notice I’m saying salsa here, not bean dip. You don’t want to get all plugged up on your trip. Guacamole is, of course, always acceptable, maybe even preferred. Eat as many chips as you want. Remember, this is dinner. Clean-up is laughably mindless: flick the apple core into the garbage, roll up the chip bag (if there are any left), rinse the dip bowl, and hey, you’re done, son, and instantly ready for Scrabble, star-gazing or a snorin’.

2. Grapes and dry-roasted peanuts. This used to be grapes and popcorn, but I’ve modified it. The peanuts are a more substantial foodstuff, and they stick to your ribs a little better. Besides, lugging a bag of pre-popped popcorn to your camp is somewhat lame. Again, you’ve got the green light to absolutely pound away at both courses without restraint; how can you eat too many grapes? This is obviously a wine dinner, but I would steer away from the reds here and hang tough with a crisp, slightly sweet, full-bodied Chardonnay. Pound wine as freely as the grapes and peanuts, until your chin begins to bounce off your sternum. Even if you prematurely conk out, you’re OK. Clean-up in the morning takes 14 seconds.

3. An orange with chunks of turkey breast. You know those six-dollar solid hunks of turkey breast sold in the store made by Foster Farms? That’s what you want here; not sliced-for-sandwiches turkey. As usual, the fruit is the first course, so inhale the entire orange, and then move on to big, thick slices of pure turkey. No bread! Not that I have anything against turkey sandwiches, but it’s just that once you break out the bread, then you’re fishing out the mustard and the mayo and the salt and the pepper and the lettuce and tomatoes and the next thing you know, you’re wallowing in a sandwich manufacturing quagmire. So keep it simple and savor those tasty chunks of pure smoked turkey. For your liquid, try an ice cold bottle of Gatorade, any color.

Combined cost of these three “meals” … about $11.50. Knock yourself out, and remember—you’re on your own for dessert. And please: no Cointreau on campouts!