Updated on 11.30.06

Feeding My Sweet Tooth Without Breaking My Belly Or Breaking the Bank

Trent Hamm

I have a problem. I have a sweet tooth that sometimes runs rampant over all rational sense. I especially love ice cream, particularly well-made ice cream that melts smoothly on your tongue… mmm.

If I didn’t have to worry about my health or my wallet, I’d probably eat a pint of Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s every night, but that’s a lot of sugar and fat I don’t need and a lot of money spent that I don’t need to waste. So I’ve developed a selection of very simple, very inexpensive, and very tasty replacements to sate my sweet tooth in the evenings.

Good Yogurt Parfait
I used to really think that yogurt was really good for you, but that it tasted terrible. It turns out that… well, plain yogurt actually isn’t very tasty. The flavored yogurts you can get at the store are all right, but there’s only so many different flavors and they add up in price.

What I do instead is make my own. It’s pretty easy. I just buy some fresh fruit that I like (bananas, oranges, strawberries, and blueberries are the best!) and a large container of plain yogurt, which is usually unbelievably cheap compared to the same volume of flavored yogurts. I slice the fruits a bit, then take a glass and put about an inch of fruit in it, followed by an inch of yogurt, and then alternate until the glass is full. Snack time! When I splurge on this, I put some brown sugar in between fruit and yogurt layers, but not every time.

If I just buy fruits that are on sale, this becomes a very cheap evening snack that’s quite tasty and healthy, too.

Pureed Fruits
Another tasty, cheap, and healthy treat is pureed fruits. All you need is fruit and a blender to try out some basic ideas, then maybe some additives like milk or yogurt to make thick shakes or brown sugar or vanilla to add some flavor. If I find a particular kind I like, I often make large batches of it and pour it into ice cube trays to freeze it for later. I then can just pop out a few cubes, toss them in a glass, and defrost them for just a few seconds for a cold, sweet, cheap treat.

Jams and Jellies
A piece of toast smothered in jam is a delicious evening snack, one that has come close to rivaling ice cream as my favorite sweet. Best of all, it’s really cheap: a piece of bread and only a tiny fraction of the contents of a jar of jelly makes for a quick and sweet snack that’s much better for you than a big bowl of ice cream.

I had some hesitation about doing this, because I am very picky about jams and jellies, but I found that even if I spend a lot on a single jar, the actual cost per serving of it still isn’t that much. So I’m willing to splurge on a good jar of jam. I highly recommend a jar of Whetstone Valley Preserves if you don’t happen to have a local person that makes it themselves (as nothing, nothing beats homemade jams and jellies).

Don’t Fear The Splurge
I admit that I still eat that expensive ice cream on occasion, but now it’s a special event more than a regular event. The above snacks are quite enjoyable most evenings – they calm my sweet tooth without denting my wallet – and it makes those opportunities to split a pint of Ben & Jerry’s with my wife or stop at a Cold Stone Creamery all the more special.

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  1. Aimee says:

    “nothing, nothing beats homemade jams and jellies”

    I’m with you on the homemade jams & jellies. I grew up eating nothing but homemade (which I often helped make myself) – it’s the best.

  2. RG says:

    My favorite sweet snack is a spoon-full of natural peanut butter drizzled with some honey. Mmmmmm.

    Yeah, and that epi of LOST rocked!

  3. Anne says:

    I still love me some dark chocolate. Just a few pieces of a larger bar are enough to satisfy, especially with some decaf coffee after dinner. And dark chocolate’s not even very unhealthy.

  4. PurplePig says:

    It’s not hard to make your own yogurt either, that would bring down the price even more. Here are some instructions: http://pocketfarm.com/?p=150

  5. Those are some frugal ideas for feeding the sweet tooth!

    I’ve sliced a piece of whole wheat bread with some mixed-berry jam from TJ’s for dessert and it does wonders!

  6. Pam says:

    Homemade jam is SO easy and doesn’t take very long. Buy a package of pectin and the instructions are right there in the box. All it takes is a quart or two of fruit and sugar or juice to sweeten. Freezer jam is the easiest. I promise you won’t want store bought again.

  7. Roger says:

    I recommend freezing the fruits, then blending them with a little milk. We call these “frothies” as they’re not quite a smoothie, but they have a nice creamy texture. We do this very often with strawberries.

  8. dj says:

    Love the yogurt suggestion. Watch out for fructose, tapioca, dyes, artificial flavoring, and other junk in yogurt. We buy La Yogurt Vanilla 32 oz which seems to be healthy and the best value. We use the plan yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. You can make some wicked muffins with plain yogurt. Alton Brown in his book, “I’m only here for the food”, says that you can microwave popcorn in a paper bag w/2 small staples. I tried it and it works. Now do what Tyra Bank’s does, put a little butter, cinnamon, honey, and salt in a bowl. Microwave it. Toss the popped popcorn in the bowl. Cover and shake. It’s sweet and gooey. Popcorn is great to satisfy sweet or salty cravings.

    This might be a bit overboard, but I created a pocketmod with a list of common things I buy with their per unit price. I go to a big store once every 2 months, but a smaller store, which is much closer, once every two weeks. When I shop, I always keep my eye open for staples and I’m able to check if it is a deal real quick. I always check ingredients, quantity (price stays the same, but sizes get smaller), and expiration.

  9. steve says:


    Plain yogurt with a little ground cardamom,a drop of vanilla extract a sprinkling of sugar, and 2 Tablespoons of raw oatmeal.

  10. Tam says:

    Since I see that you also make bread, have you thought about making yogurt, as suggested above? I’ve been making it for years (1 or more gallons at a time, usually), and could e-mail the directions if you’re interested. It requires about the same time commitment as making bread, and maybe even less work. I make it into vanilla yogurt most of the time, and sometimes add fruit topping afterward. It is indescribably good with pecans on top, or fruit.

    If you don’t want to make it, Brown Cow whole milk yogurt is WAY better than grocery store brands and a LOT better for you – there are more kinds of active bacteria that each do something different.

    Something else I do for a sweet-tooth fix is mix 2 Tbsp. sour cream with 2 tsp. sugar, then stir in about 1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit – enough so that the fruit is just coated with the sour cream mixture. Not as healthy as just the fruit, to be sure, but way better than a bowl of ice cream. In fact, I think I like it better with ice cream if the fruit is good. Peaches or nectarines are the best, but strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries are also fantastic.

    One other thing that both my husband and I like: brown sugar toast. Mix softened butter (real butter, not margerine!) with an equal amount of brown sugar. I do 1 stick at a time and keep it in a sealed Rubbermaid container. Make toast, preferably from a good quality whole grain bread (we like Big Sky’s Multigrain bread or their Cinnamon Walnut Raisin bread for this), and while it’s very hot, spread some of this brown sugar mixture on it. It melts and is oh-so-good.

  11. Amy says:

    I splurge and get name-brand(Swiss-Miss) diet hot chocolate plus calcium.It is only a dollar or two more, it is only 25 calories and it gives yo calcium without the extra fat. And a bonus- It tastes real good (especially in the winter!)

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