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.