Want to learn how to save money on milk? You’ve come to the right place.
You’re probably not alone. The price of milk has been rising for the last few years and it doesn’t seem to be stopping.
Every time you go to buy a gallon, your stomach drops as you see the price on the shelf. You wonder if it’s worth spending so much on something that is just going to spoil in your fridge…but what else are you supposed to do?
Especially if you have little kids in the home, milk is a staple. You have to have it.
Short of raising your own dairy cow (which has its own long list of expenses associated with it!) you might feel as though there are few ways to cut this item out of your grocery bill or to save money.
I don’t know what it’s like in your home, but around here we drink a bunch of milk! We go through about 2 1/2 gallons of milk per week, and that’s only because we are on a budget!
Milk isn’t cheap either. But there are ways to make your milk money stretch almost twice as far.
n this article, I’ll walk you through all the ways you can slash that grocery bill so that milk doesn’t break the bank.
Did you know that the same store chain will often charge different prices for milk based on the location of each store? If you’re lucky enough to live in a large enough town or city where this is possible, consider shopping around.
Of course, it’s worth doing your research in advance, before you head to the stores, so that you don’t waste more time and gas money on bopping around to different locations!
However, know that there are plenty of ways to save money on milk simply by switching up where you shop. By checking the Stop and Shop near your house and the one a bit further away, you might find that the prices charged are vastly different – up to a dollar or two per gallon, in fact!
Consider the Type of Store
Did you know that the price of milk varies depending on what kind of store you’re shopping at, too?
Let me explain.
While grocery stores charge the most for milk, drugstores and convenience stores (think Walgreens and 7/11) tend to charge quite a bit less. Discount chain stores, like Wal-Mart, Costco, or Sam’s Club, tend to have the lowest prices of all of these types of stores.
Of course, this can vary depending on where you live, and if you live way out in the boondocks, like me, you might not have the luxury of shopping around. But if you do, take the time to do some research! It could very well pay off in major dividends for you.
Shop Different Types of Milk
If your family is a die-hard whole milk family, then this tip probably won’t help you out much. However, if nobody particularly cares for one kind of milk over the next, then you might want to consider shopping around for different kinds of milk.
Many stores charge different prices for different types of milk, with skim milk generally being the least expensive (since it’s the least expensive to produce and contains the most water). It’s important to compare the prices of various types of milk so that you can get the best deal.
Shop Generic When Possible
Again, if your family is committed to a certain brand, then you might not be able to do this. But if you don’t have any particular kind of brand loyalty, consider shopping generically. Store brands are often less expensive than brand names.
Shop the Sales
Become a circular hound! Keep a close eye on each week’s sales to find the best deals. If you can, shop circulars from several different types of stores. Often, the price charged in circulars will be much less compared to the regular price.
A lot of people don’t realize this – but did you know that you can actually freeze milk?
If you’re getting close to the expiration date on a gallon of milk and don’t want to dump it down the drain (a HUGE waste of money!) just freeze the extra. It will stay fresh longer, giving you more time to use it up.
Another way that freezing milk can help you save money is that a half-gallon (or less) of milk is generally more expensive per ounce than a full gallon. You can freeze half of a full gallon and save it for later rather than paying more.
Just remember to leave space for expansion when you freeze your milk. Also, know that it will take a few days to safely thaw your milk, so you’ll want to take it out of the freezer a bit before you need it.
Milk can be frozen for up to three weeks without losing quality. True, it might lose a bit of its consistency and flavor regardless, but if you plan on using it in your cooking or in cereal, you probably won’t notice a difference.
Another tip for freezing milk is to freeze it in bags instead of jugs. Plastic jugs can expand and make a mess – when you freeze in bags, particularly in measured serving sizes so you know what you have, it will not only save space in your freezer but will also make it quicker to thaw, too.
Join Rewards Clubs
Just about every store has its own loyalty club – even major grocery chains and drugstores. You can also use things like Walgreen Register Rewards or CVS Extra Care Bucks to purchase milk.
There are even certain stores that offer milk rewards clubs – join these if you can! You’ll get a punch in a punch card or a stamp every time you buy milk and you’ll be able to use those toward the cost of a free gallon or two later.
Consider Powdered Milk
Powdered milk isn’t for everyone – and it’s probably not something you’re going to want to sit down and drink by the glass. However, if you use it in baked goods or other recipes, chances are, you’re probably not going to notice the difference. Powdered milk is much cheaper and since it’s stored in a box or a can, it has a longer shelf life, too.
Use Water Instead of Milk
I know – nothing beats the taste of milk and cookies. Some things in life are just non-negotiable!
However, there are some situations that normally call for milk for which water can easily be substituted. For example, if you’re making oatmeal, try swapping out the milk for water instead. You might have to take some time to get used to the taste, but you’ll save so much money in the long run.
Look for Coupons
If you buy brand-name milk, you can often use coupons to buy them. You might not find these in the sales ad for the store where you normally shop but you can often print coupons off a brand’s website.
Consider Milk Substitutes
In addition to powdered milk, there are several other alternatives to milk you might consider.
Now there’s a caveat here.
Some milk substitutes, like almond milk, are actually more expensive than regular cow’s milk. If your family goes through a ton of milk, then swapping out cow’s milk for almond milk or a similar substitute may not be sensible, exactly.
That said, almond milk and other substitutes tend to last a lot longer, meaning you will be able to keep it on the shelf much longer and you’ll waste less if you don’t go through milk that quickly.
Quit Pouring it Down the Drain
Do your kids put milk in their cereal each morning? How much milk is left in the half-eaten bowl and then dumped down the drain? You can cut your milk bill in half just by stopping this wasteful habit.
Encourage your kids to pour only enough milk into their cereal to wet it and help them learn how to cut back.
Try Low-Milk Recipes
If you’re trying to save money on milk, one of the simplest ways to do so is to reduce the number of recipes you are making that call for milk.
Rather than making pudding for dessert – a dish that notoriously requires tons and tons of milk – make a pan of brownies. Rather than making homemade ice cream, serve up some refreshing watermelon.
Find Out When Your Store Stocks Milk
Some stores – particularly local stores, not chains – stock milk at a certain time of day and will be looking for a way to offload the unsold milk. Ask, and you might be able to get a discount.
Give Portion Control a Go
I know, I know – milk is a healthy drink that you probably want your kids consuming more of, not less. Milk should be used just to add nutritional value, not necessarily to quench thirst. If you already have a dairy product in the meal, consider skipping milk – or limit a glass of milk to six to eight ounces rather than the 16 oz glass you often find at meals.
Make Milk a Breakfast-Only Treat
Now if you have very young children, like toddlers, you may still need to offer milk at every meal. However, for older children, milk doesn’t need to be a staple for each meal. Consider serving milk only at breakfast or dinner (depending on your family’s habits) and reserve snack times for water only.
Switch Up Your Baking Mixes
If you use premade pancake, muffin, or other baking mixes that call for milk, you’re wasting your time – and money. Switch to those that require just water instead of milk, and you’ll be able to enjoy great-tasting food without having to spend a ton of money on milk.
Look at Expiration Dates
When you buy milk at the store, don’t grab the one right in the front. Reach into the back, where you’ll likely find the gallons of milk with the furthest-away expiration dates. This will give you more time to use the milk before it goes bad.
Okay, hear me out – I know fermented milk sounds gross! However, you can easily make homemade yogurt out of extra milk that’s about to go bad – helping you to save money rather than dumping it down the drain.
Homemade milk and kefir are easy to make in a crockpot or instant pot and last a lot longer than fresh milk. Plus, both offer a healthy dose of probiotics!
Water it Down
When all else fails, I have one more simple tip to help you save money on milk. You’ll be surprised at how simple it is.
Water it down.
Seriously! Water it down. Instead of buying skim or 2% milk, buy whole milk and then dilute it with water.
Before pouring milk for cereal, or to cook with, I add about 1/3 cup of water to 2/3 cup milk. For the kids’ drinks I just fill a cup about 3/4 full with milk, and then hold it under the faucet for a second to fill it the rest of the way with water.
The change is hardly noticeable (the kids have never complained), but the savings can really add up! Whole milk is typically sold at the same price per gallon as skim, 1%, or 2%, but by watering it down, you’ll get way more milk for the same price. Genius!
If you can, buy milk directly from the source. Shop around at local farms and see if they can offer you a deal on milk. Some farms will let you buy in bulk and pay once or twice a year. You’ll find that the quality is often much better than store milk and since you’re buying local, you can feel good about where your money is going, too.
Use Instant Milk for Cooking
There’s no reason to use fresh milk in your cooking. Try using instant milk (not the same as powdered milk, by the way!) instead. It tastes just fine in scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and anything else that calls for milk.
This isn’t always the case, but some organic products, like milk, last longer. They are ultra-pasteurized and therefore have a longer shelf life.
Use Rebate Apps
For those techies out there, we have yet another way to save money on milk. Use a rebate app!
There are lots of apps you can install on your phone, like Ibotta (iOS, Android) and Checkout 51 (iOS, Android), that allow you to save money on all of your groceries (not just milk) simply by uploading your store receipt after shopping. You’ll get cashback on all the things you buy the most!
Raise Dairy Animals
You knew it was coming, didn’t you? While raising animals like cows, goats, or sheep might not be for everyone, the reality is that they can help you save money on your milk bill.
Of course, if saving money is your sole goal, then raising a dairy animal might not be the right choice – you’ll have tons of money in feeding, housing, and caring for these animals.
However, if local, healthier milk is what you desire, then this is really the way to go.
Saving Money on Milk is Easier Than You Think
When life gives you milk (ha!), try a few of these tips to save money on your grocery bill. From using coupons to buying in bulk, there are plenty of ways to make sure that your family eats well while staying within budget.
What other strategies have you found helpful when saving money on groceries – and on milk in particular? Leave us a comment below and tell us how you managed to feed your family without going way over budget!
updated 06/01/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.