Taking paper plates a step further . . . depending on what you are eating, if it is a dry-ish food, here is a good trick. Buy a big bag each of cheap, "basket" coffee filters and the cheapest paper plates you can find. Both are on sale at ridiculously low prices very frequently. Have some sort of sturdy "plate" to use as a base -one for each person. When you are serving a dry food, or even a semi-moist one, just put it atop either a coffee filter or a cheap paper plate, and then on the base unit. This should keep dishwashing to a minimum.
If you are serving a greasy, moist food, this method is still good because most of the mess stays where you can throw it out without washing. Think about anything with tomato sauce. That is
really hard to get off without using a lot of soap and water, so if the bulk of it is thrown out straightaway, the amount of residue is greatly reduced.
Store brand napkins, bought on sale, are frequently two or three for a penny. Use these to scrape off as much as possible from each plate before commencing with the actual washing. Do this as
quickly as possible after the meal is finished, as dried food is much harder to remove with this method. Should you find yourself with hardened food, spritz on a bit of water to soften it again, and then attack with the napkins.
Plastic silverware is not that practical, and you can wash a lot of real silverware easily by putting everything in a glass or jar filled with hot, soapy water. Let them soak a few minutes, give each a swat with your sponge, and hold them all in one hand whilst you run a stream of water over the lot of 'em. Use the same glass or jar (emptied, of course) to drain them.
Don't be afraid to boil soapy water in your frying pan. Just keep a careful watch, as it tends to bubble up (and over) the moment you avert your eyes!
One more tip - save the next Kleenex box that you empty and stuff plastic grocery bags in it. This will give you the means for an easy way to quickly dispose of the remnants from a meal. Just dump everything in it, tie it up and walk over to the handy garbage container provided by a campground! Not as easy when you are boondocking, but presume you will come to a trash can at a gas station or rest stop fairly often.
Aesthetically, these presentations are not very attractive, but if your goal is to be able to use as little water as possible, these tricks will help. You can set a more gracious table when you have more water later!
Contributors: Judie Ashford