How to Save Money on Dairy Products

 

Hey, friends!  Welcome back our contributing writer, Anita, today, as she shares some great tips on saving money on dairy costs.

Unless you have a cow or goat that you can milk every day, then you are like me, at the mercy of the rising costs of dairy products.  Every time I go to the store I remember the days when a gallon of milk was $1.00.  Even though my husband and I only go through about 1-2 gallons per week, at $3.00+ a gallon, it adds up.  I feel for those with kids: when I was growing up we went through several gallons per weeks, as I loved milk and drank a lot, plus all the cooking and baking my mother did.

Nevertheless, there are few things we can do to help cut costs on dairy products.  For instance, I save some money by buying my milk at a warehouse club; it is a few cents per gallon less than even at Wal-Mart.  I also buy more than one gallon at a time and freeze the extra gallons.  Milk freezes surprisingly well.  Just remember to pour a little out of each gallon to allow for expansion when it freezes.  It does separate a little when frozen, so after it thaws, you’ll need to shake it up a bit to re-mix.  So even if you don’t shop at Sam’s Club, if you find milk on sale, and you have the freezer space, stock up!

**Note from Laurie: The warehouse clubs often have super cheap prices on other dairy products like cheese, butter and eggs.  We save at least 30% off of our dairy bill by shopping at the warehouse clubs.

Another way to save money on milk is by buying powdered milk.  A box of powered milk that makes 22 quarts, from Sam’s Club is approximately $15; that comes out to approximately $2.90 per gallon.  Not only is powered milk slightly cheaper than fresh milk, it also stores very well which is great for your long-term food storage pantry. This product is very versatile; I reconstitute it for cooking and baking while saving the fresh milk for things like drinking and breakfast cereal.

You can use reconstituted powdered milk for all sorts of products such as evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, buttermilk, and quick whipped topping.  A quick search of the Internet will help you learn how to do this.

Powdered milk keeps for a very long time in its original container and with the rising costs of everything now-a-day and the occasional emergency; it’s just a good thing to have in your emergency food storage.

You can also save on your dairy bill by making some of your own dairy products.   Using your powered milk, you can mix up a half gallon or gallon; heat it to 195 degrees, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add ¼(for ½ gallon milk) or 1/3 cup (for 1 gallon milk) apple cider vinegar, put the lid on the pan and let sit for 10 minutes.  After the time is up, drain through a cheese-cloth lined colander for about 5 minutes.  The yellowish liquid you drain off is actually the whey and can be used for other cooking purposes or you can feed it to your chickens if you have any.  The product you have left can be used in a number of ways.  You can add salt and eat it like a dry cottage cheese or add a little cream to it if you want it more like store-bought.  You can use it like ricotta cheese or in recipes that call for cream cheese. I have also added a little olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a feta-like cheese for salads.   Pack it firmly in a Tupperware to mold into a solid block, then slice, sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and lightly fry in olive oil; it’s quite a treat!  This product freezes well also.

Even though I haven’t tried it yet, making your own butter, yogurt and basic white cheeses such as mozzarella is easy to do, and you can find instructions on the Internet or in a variety of homesteading magazines.

**Note from Laurie: my kids used to make homemade butter in a pioneer class they took a few years ago.  Although it’s a bit of work without a butter churner, it really does taste delicious, and is a fun activity for the kids.

 What are your tips for saving money on dairy costs?

Bio:  Anita is a manager for a electrical mining equipment manufacturer.  In her spare time enjoys working in her large garden, canning produce and hunting with her husband.  When she has extra, extra spare time she likes to quilt and do crafts.  She also is hoping to start raising chickens and possibly blog about the experience one day.

24 comments

  1. Does anyone know if I can put powdered milk directly in to my tea or do I have to mix it in water first?

    With both sons away at university I really only use milk in my tea and sometimes the last bag spoils before I use it. Milk comes in bags in Canada. 4 litres of milk is about $4.00 but it has been creeping up in price like everything else.

    • Anita says:

      I would give it a try! It dissolves very well in water, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t dissolve well in tea. Just be aware that powered milk does have a slightly different taste than fresh milk.

  2. Kathy says:

    I bought some shelf-stable milk to put in the pantry for emergencies like being snowbound – which never really happens in central Illinois and I live 5 minutes from a store where I can get milk in a jiffy if necessary. So I’m not sure why I felt I needed the emergency supply. Anyhoo, I tried freezing milk and find I don’t like the result at all. Yes, I shook it up before using the thawed product but it just didn’t go back like fresh. I use skim milk so maybe the whole milk version works better. Seeing those little flecks all over my cereal just didn’t appeal to me, let alone drink it. Yuck.

    • Anita says:

      Try 1% or 2% and see if you like that any better. Let me know how it turns out. I freeze skim milk and haven’t see any flecks in mine, of course I don’t have my glasses on either in the mornings when I’m eating my cereal, maybe I should! 🙂

  3. Freezing milk is a great way to save money on dairy. Having three little ones means we’re constantly going through the stuff and usually have at least 8-10 gallons in the deep freeze in our garage (which is affectionately referred to as Bessie 😉 ). We buy the half gallons when they go on sale for $1 and it helps us save quite a bit.

  4. Jim says:

    Never heard of freezing milk, that is not a bad idea. Powdered milk is not something I can consume, I believe I would eliminate milk out of my diet before drinking it. Laurie, about that Pioneer Class, never heard of a class like that before, but I think this if immensely valuable and every kid should have to take it! You think they offer a class like this in the big city? Nah!

    • Anita says:

      Powered milk definitely has a different taste than fresh, I understand what you are saying about drinking it. It works great for cooking and baking though!

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, the kids really liked it. It was based on an American Girl doll book series, which, by the way, is a terrific series for teaching kids about the pioneer days, and other times during history too.

      • Anita says:

        When I was a kid I loved learning about the pioneer days, Little House on the Prairie was one of my favorite book series to read (and TV shows)!

  5. Miriam Kearney says:

    I have used powdered milk in my tea and coffee – it will taste a little less creamy (depending on the type of milk you are used to) but works quite well – I have not had any problem with it dissolving but you do have to stir it well.

    I may my own yogurt using powdered milk – I mix it extra strong so it helps the yogurt to be thicker. I sometimes drain the yogurt and to make my own version of ricotta cheese but it also doubles as sour cream in recipes.

    I make what is called ‘better butter’ by mixing 1 pound of butter with 2 cups of olive oil. The olive oil I use is quite inexpensive. This has the advantage of stretching the butter but also provides spreadable butter as well. And in frying and baking it makes no difference at all and is probably a bit healthier for us.

    • Anita says:

      Someday I am going to try making my own yogurt, my husband and I eat a lot of it, so making it would save us a bunch! That “better butter” sound great, I’m going to have to try that too!

    • Anita says:

      Making cheese is one my list to do also. I think I’m going to have to take time off from work just to do all the thing in my to do list!

  6. This post has incredible timing for me. With four growing kids in the house, we fly through milk. I’m always looking for the sales and usually load up when I find one. I’m also trying to conserve so we don’t waste any, either by taking too much in a glass in the first place or by pouring too much into cereal.

  7. You know, I’ve never thought about saving money on milk, but my mom did back in the early stages of being a single parent. I remember mixing up powdered milk and putting it on my cereal…as a kid, I didn’t like it…but in retrospect it was fine.

    The idea of making my own mozzarella is appealing, too. That might be a way to squeeze some savings out of that gallon in the fridge. 🙂

    Interesting post!

    • Anita says:

      I had an Aunt when I was growing up that would mix up a quart of powdered milk and then add it to a gallon of fresh to make it go farther. Back then, as a little kid, I didn’t quite understand, but now I do, every little bit you can do to make things stretch and save is more money in your pocket!

  8. Nice post Anita 🙂

    Thankfully, I only use milk in my tea and the occasional bowl of cereal so I don’t usually spend too much on the stuff. I am not a fan of cheese which is a good thing for my waistline!!

    When I was a young lad, my mom tried the powder milk thing and I found it sooooooo disgusting…so that was that!! I realize that for some it works well, but for me…no thank you!

    Thanks again Anita and take care.

    Lyle

  9. Neither bf, or I drink milk, but I do use it in my baking occasionally, so powdered milk would probably work just fine for us. I’d love to see a post on making almond milk, if you have any experience with that. I recently started using it in smoothies and I love it!

    • Anita says:

      I don’t have any experience in making almond milk but it does sound yummy. I’ll have to look on the net and see if I can find anything on making at home!

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