Cheap junk is still expensive

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The napkin pile was 100% necessary

Earlier this summer we took the kids out for an ice cream as a special treat. I remember my own trips out for ice cream as a child and they are special memories, so naturally I wanted to recreate these moments with my own kids. But when we got our ice cream and I saw the total, I almost fell off my seat! For two kiddie cones and two small cones it was $13! “OMG,” I thought. “I can buy three tubs of ice cream for that price!”

It’s true, I can buy a lot of junk for the $13 I spent on a few dipped cones. In fact, I even have a recipe on how to make your own chocolate shell, but will I do it? No. The reality is that I don’t want three tubs of ice cream in my house, even if I get them at bargain basement prices. Because if I have three tubs of ice cream in the house, three tubs of ice cream will be consumed at a rapid rate. Since we will know the ice cream is there, the kids will constantly bug us to have ice cream for dessert and I know Mr. Tucker and I won’t be able to resist the call from the freezer late at night.

So in a weird way, paying $13 for take-out ice cream saves us. It saves us because it prevents us for consuming a lot of sugar and fat we may not have eaten otherwise. It also doesn’t make ice cream a part of our food budget, instead relegating it to spending money category. I feel that if we had three tubs of ice cream in the house it would make ice cream a habit so over time buying $13 ice cream could end up being an expensive habit. Once you get used to having certain foods in the house, it’s hard to take them back out again.

In the same vein, I don’t keep chips in the house regularly. If we want chips we have to walk to the store and buy some. Frozen French fries? If you are having a craving for fries, you will actually have to slice potatoes and cook them. Cookies? You have to bake them. I have found that my urge to eat something is reduced dramatically if I actually have to make something from scratch. It’s all about access. My urge to eat certain foods diminishes once I realize that I have to scrub, chop, mix or cook something and that it won’t be ready for an hour. Usually I just give up, and on the off chance the craving is big enough that I am willing to do the work, I have no regrets because of the effort I put in.

So essentially, sometimes saving money is not the only factor to look at when making a purchase. Sure, three tubs of ice cream for the same $13 looks great on paper but when you realize that this is a lot of junk your family is consuming, it starts to look less great. It’s better overall to walk to the kids up to the mall where they can enjoy a special treat of ice cream than to make it a regular part of your diet. I guarantee you that they – and you – will remember those special occasions more than you will remember opening up your freezer every night to pull out the tub of ice cream.