I am the worst grocery shopper. I get overwhelmed and confused and end up leaving with nothing but peanut butter and hot dog buns (because they seem like essentials), chocolate chips (because duh), and bananas (because I feel like I should eat fruit, but I don’t know how to tell when the other kinds are ripe).

This shortcoming requires me to get extra creative at meal times. Below I have compiled the top five treats I have created this summer, using nothing but the four ingredients listed above.

5. Poor Man’s Fondue


For my sixteenth birthday, my parents took me and my friends to the Melting Pot. It was the most sophisticated and delicious evening of my life. (I might actually be making this up. The only teenage birthday dinner I recall with any clarity was at Buffalo Wild Wings, which I only remember because our waiter wrote “Happy Birthday! Love, Big Wings” on our receipt, which was pinned to my bulletin board literally up until last November. Also because my ex-boyfriend—as in, he was already my ex-boyfriend at the time—aggressively jammed his hand down the back of my pants on our way out. But my memory wants to replace this with a classy Melting Pot celebration, probably as a protective factor or whatever.) Anyway, who can afford to eat at The Melting Pot anymore? I’m a millennial, for fuck’s sake. What I can afford is a half-ripe banana and a four-pack of Jell-O.

4. The Climbing Wall (or, as Doug calls it, “Fungus Growing off a Tree Trunk”)

IMG_1460 (1)

I always wanted to try a climbing wall. The University of Iowa has a big one, and I was totally planning on checking it out until a few years ago, when a student fell off and injured his spinal cord. Luckily the student survived and even went on to open his own brewery, which he aptly named “40 Foot Fall.” He also sued the university. (I learned all of this 10 seconds ago from his personal web page.) Anyway, I’ll probably never attempt a climbing wall so this banana is the next best thing. Also, those chips are organic sooooo I basically just became a healthy food blogger.

3A. The Banana Boat

IMG_1364 (1)

When I was a kid I liked to memorize children’s books and demand that my family listen as I recite them word for word while spinning around in the middle of our living room—because I was a three-foot tall megolamaniac drunk off my own power. The first book I ever memorized was about Ernie and Bert having a picnic in the park, where they were eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches. This therefore became the first meal I ever prepared for myself, I loved it, and it has remained a culinary staple in my life ever since.

3B. The Banana Boat, Embellished

IMG_1365 (1)

I’m in the process of writing in to Ernie and Bert about this. (Unless they’ve been banned for being gay? Am I too late?)

4. Decapitated Alien Heads

IMG_1361 (1)

I don’t have any stories about aliens. Wait, I take that back. There was an entire alien race, 86 members strong, that lived inside my imagination from the time I was five until I turned fifteen. Their last name was “Lacroe,” and all their first names were L-words I found in the dictionary such as “Lacrosse” and “Lactose.” I made my best friend write down all of their individual hobbies, hairstyles, and personality flaws as I described them to her in great detail over the course of three summers. These treats get double points for being both tasty and bite-sized.

5. The Bahama Bratwurst


Doug laughed and laughed the first time he saw me eating one of these, but you know who had the last laugh? Me. I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank if I ever get around to patenting this. It’s the perfect summer treat: all the taste of the Banana Boat but with more flair. As festive as a hot dog but without the ground up cow lips and pig snouts. Eating this is the closest I will ever get to being a vegetarian. It also makes it easy to pretend you’re at a ball game.

There you have it, folks. Let me know if you have any other banana ideas that I might find aPEELing!