The time has come. The first preseason game of the year hit the airwaves this week, and my life will be different until early to mid-February. Yes, different in many ways. Plans will be tailored around game times, certain hygiene practices may experience a good deal of neglect, and my grocery list will assuredly place some kind of chip and dip combination in every cart.

I go dip crazy this time of year, and I rarely, if ever, purchase already-prepared dips. I already feel the desire to slave away in the kitchen cooking and mixing up my favorite concoctions for parties, guests, and “Monday Night Football” father and sons bonding experiences and it’s only preseason! This may be a pretty fattening year if I’m this excited in August, but low-brow entertaining is a big part of the MacDonald lifestyle and I shall enjoy it.

Not only are the dips important, but the choice of chips will make or break the dish. We all know someone struggling with addiction. I have someone close to me that is suffering from a chip addiction. It’s not funny. Chips can take over a life.

You may find yourself driving by curb stores … that aren’t on the way home. You may wake at 3 a.m. with the “chip sweats.” Maybe there’s a bag under your car seat, or a Ziploc in the laundry room. Your work desk has secret quarters for the vending machine. You may consider some form of therapy, maybe avoiding chips for two weeks to prove to yourself you can do it.

Whatever it takes, do it now. Football is here and we are eating chips no matter what.

This week I thought we could touch on some favorite chip and dip combinations and spark some ideas before your next get together. It’s dip, remember? Monkey with the amounts all you want. Have fun with it and don’t have such a chip on your shoulder because we aren’t measuring stuff.

It’s still summer so let’s start with salsa. I hope you still have tomatoes from the garden. If you grow tomatoes and don’t grow jalapenos then you may have serious issues that I cannot help. I roast the tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and garlic in the oven or grill. Skin them all, chop them up. Then add lime juice, salt and cumin. Tostito’s lime tortilla chips should do the trick.

This corn dip is an excellent choice for Frito’s Scoops. Those big fat corn chips are perfect for shredded sharp cheddar, Mexicorn, jalapenos, sour cream and a bit of mayonnaise. You could substitute cayenne for the fresh jalapenos, but be careful. I like heat, but the pepper that made Louisiana famous can overstep its bounds.

Hummus is fun to make. I actually screw it up every now and again. Don’t get cocky. For two cans of chickpeas I drain one and save the liquid from the other. Fire up the blender and get it right with kosher salt and quality olive oil. Don’t scrape the sides with it running. That will never be a good idea. I prefer pita chips to pita bread. It should be great on its own before you dress it up with olive salad or sundried tomatoes.

Look out, Saints fans. Here is my Black and Gold dip. Yellow corn, yellow onions, black beans and a bit of Italian dressing make this a favorite. Crank it up with some Louisiana Hot Sauce and my go-to spice, cumin. For this I prefer a sturdier chip like Santitas or Mission Chips.

Rotel. It’s low-tech and perfect. I am a fan of Tostados mini rounds for this mainstay. A Super Bowl without it is like Thanksgiving without the turkey. As a bonus the applications are endless. Put it in a broccoli casserole or a grilled cheese sandwich, but the last bit should be stirred into crushed chips and eaten with a spoon. Some folks add ground beef or sausage, but I’m a purist.

Who needs the rice when you have red bean dip? There is a difference between kidney beans and red beans, the latter of which are generally smaller and rounder, but the flavor is about the same to my tastes. I usually use dark kidneys.

Cook them low and slow until tender and mash them thoroughly. A combination of jack and cheddar cheese is the best fit for this hot dip. I, of course, add diced, grilled onions to the pot at the end. Any strong tortilla or corn chip will do, as the dip will tighten as it rests on the table.

As the weather cools off I like to heat it up. You can’t live in south Alabama and not have a seafood dip up your sleeve. Softened cream cheese is the base for minced gulf shrimp and lump crab. A stick of real butter gives it the healthy kick it deserves while green onions give it pizzazz. Baked until bubbly this showstopper is best served with Triscuits. Sure, they aren’t chips, but I make the rules here.

The beauty of dip making is that it can be a snack or a full meal, hot or cold, healthy or detrimental. I’m always on the lookout for more ideas, but you can bet your bottom dollar at some point throughout this football season I will make every one of these dips, some more than once.

Be mindful of the season and the game. For example when the Saints play the Falcons I always add falcon meat to the dip. Good thing the Colts are only preseason. Does anyone know where I can get some quality lion, tiger and bear meat? Oh, my.