Monday, June 23, 2014

Saturdays in Redneckville: How to Camp in Large Groups for Less Than $100

We FINALLY went camping this weekend. It's mid-June and this was our first camping trip this year. We are so behind. The most redneck part of the weekend I can't write about yet. I really want to, and hopefully I will be able to soon. You will understand why I can't write about it right now when I do finally write about it in the future.

This weekend's camping trip was a first for me, and not just because it was the first trip of 2014. Rather than driving to a spot and unpacking, we drove to a lake, unloaded all our crap out of the car and into a fishing boat, a canoe, and three kayaks and crossed to the other side of the lake. The three families that showed up the first night managed to get all the gear across in 2 hours. We all decided this was great fun, but really was quite a lot of work. Worth it though, like childbirth.

When we camp, we go big. Everyone comes. Tim the Toolman, The Hot Italian, Dorkfish, and The Hot Italian's two teenage boys. Superman, Lois Lane, BamBam, CJ and Lois Lane's parents. The Artist and JZ. Mama T and Mark. And of course, our little family of four. I don't think any of us know how to camp in small numbers.

Because we camp in large numbers, we have spent YEARS finding an efficient way to camp. We used to all bring enough food for our respective family units and then we would share and swap among the other campers and everyone would go home and eat camping left overs for a week. The biggest problem with this is that we all spent way to much money on food that sat in a wet pile in a cooler all weekend and then went bad in our fridge at home in a matter of days. Then we got smart. 

When we decide to go camping, the men decide things like where to camp (heavily influenced by the women) who is bringing the chainsaw, and how much beer to buy (this is determined by calculating how fast they can drink it, how close the nearest gas station is to our camp site and how many women are pregnant, nursing, or just unlikely to drink). Lois Lane, The Artist, The Hot Italian and I then text each other endlessly for three days to arrange meals. 

If we leave for camp Friday afternoon and come home Sunday afternoon, there are 6 meals that will need to be prepared over the course of the weekend. With four families camping we each pick one meal and the other two (normally lunches) are picked up by who every volunteers (generally who ever feels rich that week). Most times we only have three of the four family units camping and two families take a breakfast and a dinner and the third family provides lunches for the who weekend. Then each family brings snacks to share and drinks for themselves. This allows those of us with small children to make sure they eat if those without chose to feed more sophisticated palates (and to feed the kids breakfast while we wait for the heavy drinkers to wake up). We went from spending between two and three hundred dollars each for one weekend of camping, to $100 or less per family for the weekend. Hallelujah!

The men would be content to eat hot dogs and chili all weekend. Us women, we have to share tents with them. 

I like the make ahead kind of meals. I made a Taco Soup for Friday night, packed it up in gallon sized zipper bags and reheated it on a camp stove in my cast iron dutch oven. Breakfast was biscuits and gravy. The gravy was made from packets and the biscuits were baked at home before we left with the help of Tennille.
About those biscuits. I didn't have any biscuits and I didn't have time to run to the store, so we made them from scratch. The first time, Tennille grabbed what she thought was a measuring spoon, so we had to eyeball our baking soda. They tasted off and salty so we tried again. This time, she read the recipe as tablespoons when it was teaspoons and again we had salty weird biscuits. Larch said they tasted like fish. Our final two batches were perfect. (With ten adults, three teenagers, two kids and two toddlers, you need two batches of biscuits).

Including the alcohol, hand sanitizer and band aids I think we spent about $85 on this camping trip. 

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