Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Freezing Milk


As a pregnant mommy of little ones, I find myself buying a lot of milk these days. One of the things that I love about shopping at Kroger is that I can almost always find reduced-price milk with several days left before the "sell-by date". This really helps the budget and enables us to buy several gallons of milk at once.

I also like buying four or so gallons of milk at a time because I live 17 miles from town. It's not convenient (or cost-effective) for me to "run out for a gallon of milk" whenever we get low.

Stocking up on milk is great, but it's only a deal if you can keep it fresh. To accomplish this goal, I've taken to freezing my milk. Over time, I've learned a few tricks about this process that I want to share with you all...

  • Skim milk is the easiest to freeze. Skim milk can be frozen as-is in the gallon. It doesn't seem to expand too much and, because it has no fat, you don't have to deal with the fat solids separating from the liquid as it freezes. The kids and I all really like skim milk (and they're both over two) so this works out great. (Oh, and I just have to say because I get tired of reading this little myth on other sites-- skim milk is NOT the same as watered down whole milk. You water down nutrients that way and still consume fat.)
  • Higher fat content milks can be frozen too. We never buy whole milk around here anymore because no one will drink it. But I often buy 1% (that extra fat is good for my little C.) or 2% (Daddy likes it in his coffee). I've noticed that these milks seem to expand more than skim (I have no idea why exactly that is). I've never actually had a plastic jug crack on me, but the possibility makes me a tad nervous and so I transfer these into other plastic containers, allowing a good inch or so of expansion room. With extra space in the container, it's easier to "shake it up" and redistribute the fats once the milk has thawed. This also enables me to store at least some of it in my normal kitchen freezer instead of the big chest freezer in the garage...
  • This is a great way to ration chocolate milk. I've been lucky enough to snag chocolate milk for 75 cents a gallon recently. We ALL like chocolate milk around here, but it's not an everyday thing. By dividing the gallon into smaller containers, we can just use what we need and the rest remains safely frozen until the next time. We don't have to each drink 24 oz of chocolate milk in one day to use it up. (Truth? Chocolate milk is the easiest for me to choke down when pregnant. I'm not a great milk drinker for the most part, but I do enjoy chocolate milk. And, since I tend to have some trouble gaining weight, I don't worry too much about the extra sugar...)
By learning a few tricks for safely and conveniently freezing reduced price milk, I've been able to keep the cost of four gallons of milk under $6 for our family. And that's something that we all find refreshing!
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To read how others live frugally and save some pennies, check out Frugal Friday, hosted at Biblical Womanhood!

For more tips and recipes, be sure to visit Tammy's Recipes every Tuesday!

9 comments:

Phoebe said...

I've heard a lot of buzz about freezing milk, but I've never tried it.

I grocery shop every 2 weeks in a town about 20 minutes from my home so I can shop at chain stores (cheaper groceries). By the end of those 2 weeks we are low/out of milk (because I cannot buy enough to last w/o one going bad), and I cannot justify going to the big town or paying $4+ in my town.

I'm curious if it changes the texture of the milk when you freeze it. And, how long is it good for once it has been thawed?

Thank you for your tips!

JessieLeigh said...

Phoebe- Those are good questions.

I haven't noticed any change in texture in the skim milk. For the 1% and 2%, I have to give the container a good shake once it thaws, but after that it tastes the same as if it was never frozen. I have no experience with whole milk...

The milk is good for just about the number of days you originally had left before the sell-by date. Keep in mind, though, that the lower the fat content, the longer the milk TENDS to last past that date (my Kroger dairy guy says that whole milk spoils around the day after that date, 2% about three days after, 1% about five days after, and skim about a week after... I haven't tested that for sure, but I imagine he would know!)

Amy @ Finer Things said...

That's how I buy milk! Always checking for Manager's Special, but I don't get the deal you do. Mine is usually reduced to $1.99 per gallon. I put it in the chest freezer in the basement. I've had one gallon crack. I don't remember what % it was, because I don't care about that as much as I care about that orange and yellow sticker!

I've really been thinking of getting milk fresh from a dairy. That would be a HUGE step for me, though...

St. Fairsted Farm said...

Excellent idea! We also do this with bread. It works great!

Kelly said...

Yep, I am a milk-freezer too!! I tend to buy 2% and pour off just a little before freezing! Really think a freezer is a good thing to have a frugal life!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Yes - this is one of the things we have been doing for over ten years and literally have saved thousands. It's interesting to see that you say skim freezes the best. I have found that the more fat, the better they hold up. My skim always separates and as it thaws, it's just not as in tact, but it may just be a difference in freezer or how long mine sits in there? :) I have frozen 2% and whole for years and even though it does expand - don't worry, it won't explode. If they only have the higher fat ones, then I do add water to it, and you still get that yummy creamy taste without as many of the calories. My kids got spoiled by getting the higher fat. I should have never switched from 1 %. You're right on with staying with skim :)
I love to see these comments all about freezing milk. My dairy guy said the exact opposite about how long they last for. Isn't that too funny. Our 2% will last a good week past....
Didn't mean to write a whole post....love that you posted about this.

JessieLeigh said...

Amy- I love my farm-fresh eggs (when I can get them in season!), but I doubt I'll ever get my milk that way... :)

St. F F & Kelly- Absolutely! Bread, milk, you name it... a freezer can save you bundle!

Jen- I loved reading your comment! Isn't it so funny how different our experiences and the information we receive can be? But, hey, as long as it's working, right? :)

Brooke said...

i've been doing this for a couple of years because we don't actually drink milk at my house, but i need it for the occasional bowl of cereal or for a recipe.

i bought the pint sized containers on manager's special and froze them, now i buy a whole gallon and refill the old pints

Lori said...

"Requirements" have likely changed since my kids were small (the youngest is now nine) but I was scolded by the pediatrician once for giving my kids skim milk before the age of five, he said the fat is required for brain development. Like I said, things may have changed in the last few years but you might want to double check with the pediatrician about it if you haven't already, just in case. :)