With only a week to go before Teenage Summer Camp closes for
repairs the season, we are on track to pull it off.
We may even come in slightly under budget, as long as butter prices remain stable.
Milk, juice and 12-packs of every variety disappear as fast as you can say "If I catch you drinking out of the container again, I am going to shut down your online medieval butchery and send you outside to climb trees and drink from the hose just like we did when we were kids, before there was vitamin water."
Their sisters go through butter, flour and sugar as if they are running a cupcake factory. Which is an exaggeration by a degree of roughly a dozen cupcakes.
Even so, we've discovered a few tricks to keep costs to just this side of ruinous:
(Actual results may vary.)
1. Ignore their pleas for every fast food offering in a 25-mile radius as long as possible. (My record to beat: halfway home from the airport.)
2. Minimize grocery shopping. For example, this week, we limit ourselves to one trip per day, not counting the search for little paper umbrellas and cupcake ingredients the girls need for their ongoing project, Destroying the Kitchen with Martha Stewart.
3. Have the children help in meal planning by inviting them to create their own grocery lists.
4. Discard the children's grocery lists which contain nothing but Pop Tarts, breakfast cereal and ice cream flavors.
5. Shop for store brands with names like "Always Save," "Dirt Cheap," and "Mommy Doesn't Love You Enough."
6. Prepare to defend your purchase of store brand "toaster pastries" against such fierce protests you will start to believe they can actually distinguish one partially hydrogenated vegetable oil product from another, until you remember that these are kids who believe goldfish taste like cheese.
7. Craig Claiborne's basic pancake recipe: One quadruple batch makes enough pancakes for four teenagers to put four times as many on their plates as they can actually eat. Snatch some back and you won't have to make pancakes again until the day after tomorrow. Or possibly yesterday.
8. Let them eat cupcakes.
Photo: Shark-infested sea of cupcakes by Martha Stewart and the Whimsy Twins.
Postcards from the summer camp archives: Teenage wasteland