Milk and Dairy Aisle

Save Money on Groceries: Dairy, Milk, Yogurt 
by Michelle Jones,

Tip # 1 - Milk

We've lived in 6 different states and I have consistently found that I can purchase gallons of milk cheaper at gas stations (convenience stores) and even dollar stores than at the local grocery stores. Isn't there something wrong with this picture? Whatever the reason is, you might as well try it in your town too.

Tip # 2 - Price Checking

Check all of your local stores to see who has the best price, they won't all be the same. And when you notice the price of milk going up in your selected store, check as you shop around town to see who now carries the best price. It can change from time to time.

Tip # 3 - Powdered Milk

Believe it or not, powdered milk tastes the same as regular milk when prepared ahead at night, I know because I've used it to supplement my own family's milk supply!  I can save at least $6 a week just with this one item!  (Remember, I have a family of 6 so we can go through 3-4 gallons of milk easy!)

Tip # 4 - Mix it Up

About once a week I'd buy one gallon of 2% milk at my favorite store that carries it for the best price, and then as I made the powdered milk throughout the week (which is non-fat). I'd add a few cups of the 2% milk to make it a little richer.  You could also use whole milk if desired, but 2% is just as good.

Tip # 5 - Freeze It

Did you know that you can buy extra milk, skim milk is preferred, when it goes on sale and freeze it (making sure there is some room at the top so the container won't burst)?  Although, I have to admit I do prefer fresh milk. You might want to try it at least once. Then, if you like it you can stock up during the big sales and save a bundle!

Tip # 6 - Brands

Check the brands!  Invariably, at every store there is an expensive brand and a cheaper brand of milk available - and the taste is probably just the same.  (I am not 100% sure it tastes the same because I have never purchased the more expensive brand, never!)

Tip # 7 - Expiration

Always check the expiration dates for your milk and other perishable food items you purchase, it's an unfortunate waste of money when things expire too soon.

Tip # 8 - Expiring Discount

You could also purchase a soon-to-expire gallon of milk (if your family can drink it up quick enough), and ask the manager for a discount.

Tip # 9 - Sour Milk

Milk will keep for several days, or up to a week, after you open it. After a few days the top of the jug may begin to smell a little sour but the milk inside should be fine. And if you ever find the milk has soured, it can still be used for baking.

Tip # 10 - Other Dairy Items

Most of the above tips also apply to cheeses, yogurts, sour cream and other dairy products. So if your family likes them stock up on all of these items when they go on sale.

Tip # 11 - Cheese

And did you know cheese freezes well too?  It sure does!  Buy several packages of your favorite cheese when it goes on sale (and by the time you use them up they will hopefully go on sale again!

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Readers' Tips...

"I have discovered that block cheeses can change a little in texture after being frozen. So before these items go in the freezer I slice, shred or crumble, however I will be using it at a later time. Then I freeze. It also makes it easy to not have to let the entire amount thaw, I can just remove how much I need and leave the rest in the freezer and not have to worry about not using it before it molds." - Billie Jo Sword of NC

"My mother used to freeze milk when I was a girl but after thawing the fat in the milk would separate and float around in the milk; changing the taste and appearing un-appetizing. The only milk that can be frozen successfully and maintain it's flavor is skim milk. Just be sure to shake the milk after it has thawed. I do this all the time with no loss of flavor. The only time I have had a carton burst is when I re-froze it.  Since my family goes through several gallons of milk a week, this saves us a lot of money.  But, even if you don't drink as much milk as we do, buying it when it's on sale and freezing it can save you as much as $1 a carton." - Shirley Lesko of Texas

"I have two recipes for sweetened condensed milk substitutes that have come in handy when it was inconvenient to take a trip to the store (bad weather, bad hair day, etc.)." - Mary from Indiana
Here are Mary's recipes...

Sweetened Condensed Milk - Recipe 1

1 c. powdered milk
1/3 c. boiling water
2/3 c. sugar
2 or 3 Tbsp. margarine or butter
Whirl all ingredients in blender until sugar is dissolved. If too thick, thin with a dribble of water. This is about the same amount as one can of purchased milk.

Sweetened Condensed Milk - Recipe 2

1 1/2 c. powdered milk
1/2 c. water
3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. margarine or butter, optional
Combine milk and water in a non-stick saucepan. Allow to stand about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally until smooth. Stir in sugar and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly, about 4-5 minutes. Turn heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more or until it is smooth. Makes 1 1/3 c. or 1 can milk.

"I came from a family of 7 kids. Hard to keep refrigerated milk in the house! My mom always baked with powdered milk. She'd liquefy it if it needed to be, however, the dry powder can be mixed in with the dry ingredients for biscuits, etc. Just use 1/3 cup dry milk for every cup of liquid milk called for. Mix the extra water in when recipe says add the wet ingredients. Has worked for 50 years in my baking. It's much cheaper and as nutritious. Another idea for tomato paste. Freeze the leftovers from those Costco large sizes in plastic ice cube trays. Pop them out into a plastic bag when frozen. The lowly bean is an incredible value in terms of protein and fiber. Buy the store brand of beans when on sale. When ready to cook in a recipe open the cans of beans and dump into a colander to rinse well under cold water. This will remove a lot of the indigestible surface starch and the resulting gas issues. Serve in soup, make chili, etc. Use a lot less meat and up the family nutrition! By the way, served with rice, beans are a complete protein." - Valleri C.

"Being a mother of 2 young girls (both in time consuming car seats!) and having a husband who frequently works 60+ hours/week, I find myself "wasting" money by not returning small items that are in some way defective simply because I don't want to buckle up both girls two times so that I can get my $3.00 back. With that being said, I discovered that on numerous occasions, I found my milk to be sour when I opened it.  Instead of taking it right back up to the store, I 'ate' the cost and bought another gallon on my next trip out of the house.  Now, when I purchase milk, I carry the gallon upside down to the cart.  You will know the condition of your milk if the top leaks.  Leaky lid equals suspect milk!  You would be surprised how often this has saved me.  Hope this can help someone else!" - Katie B.

"Just wanted to add that cheese may freeze ok, but cream cheese does not." - Sarah

"I switched to the milk that was labeled as coming from cows not fed growth hormones, which was a bit more expensive. One day I decided to actually look at the websites of both milk companies, the cheaper one I had been buying before was also from growth-hormone free cows, it just didn't advertise that on the label." - Abby J.
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