Sandra Tsing Loh tries to save money on summer camp for her girls.
So this summer, my girls have been going to art camp. Thank God. Money well spent! I was less happy, though, to spring for their two daily lunches. There was a conveniently located Subway nearby, but when I did the math I realized it would come to $100 a week - $400 a month! - just for lunch. And, talking my 12-year-old out of combining four kinds of soda.
I somehow decided this all could be solved - and beautiful memories could be made - if I, their mom, showed up every day at lunch with a picnic basket. Partly because - as the Bed, Bath and Beyond website tells us - "Picnic baskets add romance to any outdoor dining experience."
Unfortunately, I do not live near a Bed, Bath and Beyond, although I do live near a Target. Which does not necessarily add romance to any outdoor dining experience. I have this fantasy of what a picnic basket should look like. It should be wicker and charming and somehow, upon opening its flaps, a whole library of utensils and cups and plates should burst into flower, along with a red and white table cloth, and some condiments and... I really don't know what I was thinking.
At Target, there were many rolling coolers - in less-than-romantic sizes, from "12-can" to "48-can." Then, I found a single remaindered straw basket that suspiciously had no compartments, which made me worry that a small underpaid family had made it in Asia. I guiltily dropped the 25 bucks -
- And then even more guiltily went to the Apple Store. We used to have four iPhone chargers - now, we only have one. The good thing is that you can always find it - permanently plugged in to my teen daughter's bedroom wall. But now, the Apple Genius informed me that instead of one charger for both iPhone and iPad - ? Apple now sells a 5-watt charger for the iPhone and a 10-watt charger for the iPad, and - cleverly for Apple - if you use the wrong one, you will destroy your unit's battery!
With a dying phone, I stomped off to Trader Joe's to buy healthy snacks to put in my Third World picnic basket. I like Trader Joe's, particularly that cunningly crafted Hummus Quartet. It's a pleasing quartet of hummus. But, when you start looking at those winsome Trader Joe's salads enriched with bulgur wheat and cranberries and quinoa - Have you ever looked at the stats on them? It's like 64 carbs and 45 grams of fat, thanks to the miso soy peanut dressing! Not kidding! You can just consume a small cheese wheel and be better off! It's the healthy picnic basket from hell!
Next week: Meltdown at the Container Store.