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Monday, July 2, 2018

When the big jug of milk is a better deal but it is more than we can use before expiry

This is a dilemma that small households face. Milk in one-gallon jugs is often cheaper per unit than quarts. But there is too much milk for one or two people to use before the expiration date. My own family is becoming sporadic with milk consumption. I never know if we'll be able to consume a full gallon in time. I have mentioned that I often freeze milk when I find a great sale. I am now freezing milk because we can't finish a full gallon in time.

So, when I open a gallon, I pour off 3/4 of the milk into quart-sized containers for the freezer. I know that we can finish off one quart in a timely manner. Then as we need milk, I thaw a quart (takes half a day on the countertop, or 24-48 hours in the fridge). I keep an eye on our current supply of milk, and plan ahead as much as I can.

But you know me, I like the presentation to be attractive. I don't want us feeling like we're eating out of old yogurt containers. So I've been using some of my collection of ceramic pitchers. I have pitchers in all sizes, from small enough just for cream or pancake syrup for one or two people to large enough for a pitcher of water for the dining table. This little pitcher, here, is the perfect size for about 3 cups of milk, which is a good amount for our family to keep at the ready. In addition, it looks nice on the table. It doesn't have a lid, so I just use a small square of plastic wrap over the top.

My point is, our family is able to still buy the larger, economical size of containers of milk even though we don't consume as much as we once did. This is a habit that I can continue well into the empty nest years, as long as someone in the house still consumes milk.


Belinda said...

This is a great idea, Lili. We too are unable to finish a gallon of milk before it expires, so this is a great idea for our home too, thank you. :)

Live and Learn said...

We are adjusting to how much milk we drink. We used to use 4 gallons of milk/week when both boys were here. That went down a lot when my son when to college. Then we were using one to two gallons a week. Now my husband has cut back his milk consumption a lot and we are almost one gallon a week. However, occasionally it gets old before it's gone. Too old for me to drink, but he still will. We have a couple of stores that are competitive with the milk prices (1.50/gallon) and use that as a loss leader. So, we don't have to buy ahead. However, I do have some buttermilk in the fridge I need to freeze soon. That I freeze in half cup amounts because that fits most of the recipes I use it in.

The pitcher is lovely but I can see my family not putting the wrap back on the top and the milk starting to absorb odors. Do you have any problems with them putting the top on the pitcher?

Alice said...

Good topic! Milk was something we bought 8 gallons at time when the kids were growing up. A garage refrigerator held 8 or more gallons on a shopping trip and we always used them before expiration dates. Now, we also can hardly get through a gallon of milk. The girls don't live with a lot but they have opted for almond milk and our son seems to have an intolerance to dairy so he doesn't drink milk either. But we also can go to a store close by that discounts milk on Saturday mornings if the milk is close to expiration. We can get a gallon of milk for 50 cents. We find 1/2 and 1/2 and even different sizes of milk. We get a couple of gallons and freezer a bunch for later. I just pour off a portion and fill a small plastic container and freeze the rest.

I have a couple of recycled glass juice containers that I think I'll try instead of the plastic container. Thanks Lili for your post about saving cute jugs from beverages to use. That's what I'll use for milk.


Angie said...

Great idea, I will do this for sure!

We are going through an adjustment in our household. Our oldest son moved into an apartment in 2015, so we had to make food adjustments then. Now our youngest son is 16 with a part-time job, and a girlfriend. He's rarely home to eat meals, gets a food discount at his job, and eats out with his girlfriend sometimes.

So, it seems like I'm always making too much food for my husband and I at a meal. That's easy enough, we have leftovers or freeze for leftovers later. But the other things, like getting through that gallon of milk, or loaf of bread, or carton of OJ (which says use within 7 days of opening).

I just said to my husband the other day that I wish I could buy a half loaf of bread. I've tried freezing bread and buns before, and my husband is picky about that. He says there is a different taste once bread has been frozen, and he doesn't like it. I can't really tell any difference,but I can't get away with it because of him.

Heading towards the completely empty nest, I still have a lot to figure out!

Have a great day!

Alice said...

That bread thing is getting me right now. We used to plow through loaves of bread and we left them on the counter. But now they get moldy before we can get through a loaf of bread. So I have to freeze sliced bread and we take slices out as needed. I can't tell the difference from frozen vs. non-frozen bread.

Leftovers--yup another one of problems. I was so used to cooking for a family of five and in very large quantities. Now we have one adult child with us most of the time so I have tried to scale down the amount I make. But our son needs meals for his weekend work out of town so all leftovers go into freezer containers and gets frozen. He needs three frozen meals per weekend. Now I often don't make enough to be able to freeze three extra meals a week. Adjustments sure are difficult. And now we have our oldest daughter home for the summer so now we're cooking for 4 adults so back to larger quantities!

What I will say is that we really are putting dent into the super full freezer and I can see the reduction in there already.


Lili said...

Your welcome, Belinda. It works for us.

Lili said...

So far, so good with the plastic wrap, live and learn. We're not super picky so if the milk did pick up any odors, for the most part everyone would be okay with it. I'll keep that issue in mind should I put something really stinky into the fridge!

Lili said...

Hi Alice,
when my kids were very little we only had the kitchen fridge (no garage fridge). The kitchen fridge could hold 9 gallons of milk, so that is what I would buy. And we would go through all of it before the expiration date. That just sounds crazy to me, now.
Your recycled glass juice containers will be attractive, I think. I'm glad you have something like that to use.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one liking the convenience of dry milk? We're not picky about freshness, and basically drink milk with cereal, or in smoothies, not plain. I'm also tempted to buy freeze dried meats, mushrooms, fruits and veggies for the convenience, but the price seems a bit higher than fresh.

Have a nice day!!


Lili said...

Hi Angie,
so what have you been doing with the leftover bread? The only things I could think of are to use the 2nd halves of the loaves of bread in your menu planning, like sandwiches every Thursday night, and strata every Friday. Could you get away with freezing bread if you then used the frozen stuff in something flavored like French toast, bread pudding, or stuffing? Our local Fred Meyer (Kroger affiliate) sells 2 sizes of store-brand whole wheat bread, a large and a small. You may have to hunt around at your different grocery stores to see if any of them do the same. Good luck with this!

Lili said...

Hi again, Alice. Yep, the moldy bread happens to us, to. For us, it's a seasonal thing. As soon as the daytime temperatures warm up in late spring, moldy bread kept in the pantry becomes an issue. It's mostly homemade bread that does this. We can get our bread to keep longer if we store it in the fridge. We lost a half-batch of pancakes last week to mold.

Lili said...

I do buy powdered milk, but we use it as just a back-up. The flavor isn't an issue, its just more expensive where we live, and adds to my workload, to keep checking on the milk and make up a batch every few days. At least with the liquid, frozen milk, anyone in my family will get more milk out of the freezer. But I can't say the same for the dry milk.
Sara could probably speak about keeping the dried foods on hand. She's done a lot of that. Maybe she'll chime in soon. Do you have a source where you could buy that locally, or would you need to order online. Amazon Prime could be a very good deal for you with shipping, if you had to order it.
Have a great day, yourself, YHF!

Anonymous said...

I don't know a good source locally, so would have to order from "MLM" Thrive food consultants. I want to try an order, but the description doesn't give the equivant to fresh weight, nor the package weight, just number of servings. So I back away. I watch YouTube demonstrations using Thrive products, and they never seem to discuss the cost of how much was used for the recipe.


ruthie said...

I have over half a gallon of sour milk that I'm trying to use up in cooking and baking. Have you tried freezing sour milk?

Lili said...

Hi Ruthie,
With milk that is past the sell-by date, I freeze it in 1-cup amounts, what I would use in a batch of pancakes. Then I microwave-thaw it, as I need for cooking. It works just fine. So, if you freeze the milk in quantities that you would use in recipes you will be fine.

Lili said...

Interesting. I haven't heard of Thrive products before. Could you contact a consultant and ask for more information on equivalents?

Jayne said...

Thanks for the reminder Lili. We have the same issue at our house, and now, we have the solution!

Angie said...


I can't tell the difference in frozen/non-frozen bread either. I honestly think it's in my husband's head. Lol. Oh, well.

It's comforting to see I'm not all alone with the adjustments.

Have a great day!

Angie said...


So far, when I know the clock is ticking on a loaf of bread, I've made bread pudding a couple of times. Everyone loves dessert! And, I've made French toast to freeze a couple of times. My youngest son will take frozen French toast out of the freezer, warm in the microwave and eat it. Once, I served toasted bread with homemade garlic butter with spaghetti when I had bread I needed to use up.

I had not thought to freeze the bread to use later in French toast or bread pudding. I don't think my husband would notice any difference that way! Thanks for the idea!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, the product is "Thrive Life". They have made some changes to their website. Now, product weight is listed as well as serving size. I was particularly interested in white mushrooms and now that I see the product weight it is much more expensive by weight than another type of mushrooms, Shiitake. Another change I noticed is your geographic area is asked in a dropbox and the website price/product offers seem to be specific for your area.


Kris said...

Angie, have you tried double-wrapping your frozen bread? I find that to be helpful when I freeze homemade loaves. Also, I find I can taste the difference between fresh and frozen if the frozen loaves have been in the freezer for a length of time--if they've only been in for a week or 2, they taste ok to me, but longer than that and I can tell. I still eat it, though! Also, maybe toasting the frozen bread would improve the taste--just a thought.

We are still regularly going through 5 gallons of milk a week and my hubby and I are big milk drinkers, so I'm not sure I'll ever have this problem. :) Lili, your pitcher is beautiful!

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