Dairy is a scary thing to talk about when it comes to our budget, mostly in the cheese department….we love cheese and we eat a lot of it! Dairy has so many healthy benefits, so how can you include it in your grocery budget without overspending?
Keep your eyes on the look out for sales. I’ve heard of people freezing sale milk for future use. Just make sure to pour a little out, so there’s enough room in the jug for expansion. Cheeses can also be frozen, especially if you’re just planning on using them in cooking.
Buy in Bulk
When we lived closer to a Sam’s Club we bought our cheese there. We figured out the unit price for the a big block of sharp cheddar cheese there and compared it to a regular store and since we eat cheese so much we did the math and realized that in cheese alone we saved enough money to cover the cost of our $40 a year membership! I also noticed that a gallon of milk was usually cheaper at Sam’s than the other stores in the area.
Even if you don’t want to buy huge quantities cheese, just buying a gallon of milk will probably be cheaper per fluid ounce than a half-gallon, but of course if you don’t drink it fast enough and it gets wasted that’s no savings at all. Buy the larger containers of yogurt and divide it out yourself instead of buying the individual serving cups.
Buy Cheese in Block Form
Not always, but often, cheese is cheaper if bought in block form. Simply shred, slice, grate or cube your own cheese. When I used to make sack lunches for Cameron, often I would cut some cheese into sticks instead of buying cheese sticks.
As a side note, if you decide to slice your own cheese, I recommend a cheese slicer like this:
There are also cheese slicers that use a string to slice, but we haven’t had as good of success with them.
Like most things, the generic brand will be cheaper. At least try the cheaper brand and if you really don’t like it you can always go back to the name brands, but honestly I can’t usually tell a difference! If you do decided to stick with name brand keep the next tip in mind…
Look for Coupons
I rarely use coupons, but I know enough to know that you can sometimes find coupons for things like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc… Coupons are especially good if you like name brand items. You might be able to find some organic coupons too.
Look for Local Sources
We’ve started buying raw milk from some local farmers for only $4 a gallon. Lately milk at Wal-Mart has been over $4 a gallon, so this is a good price. Although we’re probably not saving much, because about once every other month we take a turn to go drive 30 miles away and pick it up for us and friends. We’re mostly doing it for the health benefits of raw milk, but if you live close to a local farm with dairy products it might save you some money. The laws about buying raw milk vary from State to State.
Buy Cheaper Varieties
I absolutely love spinach feta mushroom crustless quiche, but feta cheese is a little pricey, so I often make this recipe using cheddar in place of the feta cheese. You can try your own experiments at substituting more expensive dairy products for the cheaper kind.
While dairy products are good for you, you might still be able to get a balanced diet with just a little less dairy. We’ve tried to cut back our cheese consumption a little bit and it hasn’t hurt us at all! We eat nachos very rarely now and I try to be more cautious when sprinkling cheese on pizza. Another option is to limit the amount of milk your kids drink, while milk is great for them, they also need to be drinking plenty of water.
Bake with Old Dairy
You know when that sour cream smells just a little too sour? You’re not sure it’s really bad enough to toss, but you’re leery of putting a dollop on your taco salad? Try baking with it! After all it’ll get cooked that way. Milk, buttermilk, yogurt and sour cream can all be used up this way! Think muffins, pancakes, biscuits, waffles, cornbread etc… Try my mom’s moist banana bread for a great way to use up a cup of yogurt or sour cream!
Make muffins to use up sour cream or yogurt.
Make Your Own
I’ve made yogurt once, and Cameron has made butter using cream from our raw milk. I don’t know price break downs for these kinds of things, but I imagine most things you make yourself will save some money. I’ve seen blogs featuring not only butter and yogurt, but also different kinds of cheeses, greek yogurt and buttermilk.
What kinds of dairy products have you made yourself?
Miss the previous posts?
Eating Healthy on a Budget #1: Produce
Eating Healthy on a Budget #2: Protien
Eating Healthy on a Budget #3: Breads & Grains
This post is linked at A Blossoming Life.