Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cooking with Milk Substitutes

When you ask, "Honey can you stop at the store for a gallon of milk?" does your honey come home with only a gallon of milk? Or maybe you are the one that runs out for "just a gallon of milk," and returns home with several bags of groceries. Making extra trips to the store can be costly. They cost you time. They cost you gas, and for most of us they cost us more in groceries than we actually intended. 

When you have run out of an ingredient, there usually are many substitutes that can replace the item. If milk is the item you've run a bit shy of, don't worry, and don't run to the store. You can still cook your dinner with out milk. 

For many dishes, milk can simply be replaced with water or broth without changing the taste much. Use water in baked items like biscuits. Use broth in cooked items like mashed potatoes. In fact, using the water the potatoes were boiled in, along with some butter when mashing, makes delicious mashed potatoes. 

Do you have dry milk or evaporated milk in the cupboards? Though these items may not taste quite like fresh milk alone, when you use them in cooking or baking, the taste is identical . They are easy substitutes when milk is called for. Reconstitute dry milk according to the package instructions and use like fresh milk.  Undiluted evaporated milk is a substitute for cream. Dilute it with an equal amount of water for a milk substitute. 

When I began this post, I fully intended to tell you that using dry or evaporated milk regularly in cooking could save you money. In fact, I do regularly cook with both these items with the thought that dry milk and evaporated milk are cheaper than fresh milk. Then I did the math. 

Fresh Milk  $2.00 a gallon, or .06/cup
Enough Dry Milk to make 8 quarts of milk $5.99, or $0.19 per cup.
Evaporated Milk $0.69 for 12 ounces mixed with an equal amount of water makes 3 cups or $0.23 per cup.

The numbers were surprising to me. When I first started my frugal journey, dry milk was often touted as a frugal alternative in articles about cutting your grocery bill. When did dry milk get so expensive? Phillip Brewer provides an explanation in Nonfat dry milk- no longer a frugal alternative

Fresh milk is the cheapest form of milk, much to my surprise. I will still argue that using dry milk and evaporated milk as substitutes, when you run out of fresh milk, will save you money as opposed to making that trip to the store, just for a gallon of milk. Making that trip will cost you time, gas, and mostly likely you will buy something else while you are there. Make do with what you have on hand, and save yourself a trip to the store. 


  1. It's an interesting point but while I rarely cook with milk, I'd be lost without my cereal in the morning...!

  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  3. Stephanie, thanks for the price info. I'm going to check that out here because we started using less whole milk when the prices went up last year. I use powdered milk for baking and sauces. Teh non-fat part figures into the equation, too. Of course, powdered milk would still be good for food storage when simply having it all would be valuable. Thanks. Enjoy the blog.

  4. Ruth,
    Thanks! Keep the comments coming!

    Liz Beth,
    These prices were all from Aldi. The milk price was for skim. Their other milk prices are slightly higher. I agree that keeping powdered milk on hand is still a good idea.

  5. I'll have to check out the prices I pay. Mandy did give me a huge box of powdered milk a while back. I use that for cooking when I remember to mix it up ahead of time. I stick to buying whole milk since my boys burn fat at such a fast rate and need all they can get, so it can be more expensive at times. Thanks for the heads-up!

  6. The fresh milk is healthier, too - especially if you drink it full fat. (Our bodies can't utilize the calcium and vitamin D in the milk effectively without the fat.)


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