Bigger Results From Your Money and Time - Money saving tips and ideas
Milk is a staple in my kitchen, as it probably is in your kitchen, too. When we run out of milk we usually need to make a special trip to the store for milk to use for the next day's breakfast or for a recipe for dinner. When you add in the gas to stop at the store and the cost of the occasional impulse item, that makes the gallon of milk pretty expensive!
It finally occurred to me that maybe I could save some money and time by freezing milk.
Yes, milk can be frozen. The secret is that the longer it is frozen, the more the fats in the milk tend to separate from the water in the milk.
The quality of the frozen-then-thawed milk for cooking or for blender-made drinks is still quite good. Shake or stir it and then use it the same as you normally would. You likely will not notice a difference.
Freezing milk for later drinking is a little different and will depend heavily on your own personal preferences and taste. Technically the taste and nutritional quality of the milk is not affected, but the "mouth feel" or the texture of the milk is affected by the fat separation when freezing. If you want to freeze milk for later drinking, then you can do one of two things: Either freeze for a very short time - up to 3 days, or when the milk has been frozen longer than 3 days, vigorously shake or blend the thawed milk to reconstitute the fat distribution.
The milk should be frozen in the quantity that you will later use. For example, if you are going to use the thawed milk for cooking, then freeze it in one cup portions. A quart of milk can be frozen for a few days of breakfast cereal and drinking. If your family uses a lot of milk, you might even freeze it in half gallons or gallons.
I like to use a quart sized glass Ball canning jar for freezing milk.The smaller, pint sized Mason and Ball jars can also be used for freezing if you prefer to freeze in smaller quantities. In general, you should freeze about as much as you will use in 3 -4 days..
Whatever container you use, be sure to leave enough space in the container for the milk to expand as it freezes. Otherwise, your container may bulge or burst as the milk freezes. Filling the container 3/4 full is a good guideline to allow for the expansion. Be sure to tightly seal the container since over time, milk can pick up odors from the other foods in the freezer.
When thawing frozen milk, the best method is to let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight (larger portions will take longer than overnight to thaw). If you need to thaw it faster, then set the frozen milk container in a sink of cold water. With any method, the thawed milk should be shaken or stirred (see note above about fat separation) before using.
How much can you save by freezing milk? It depends on the cost of the milk and the quantity you will freeze.
I'll use the price of milk here in Indiana for our calculations. Our local Kroger store has milk on sale for 4 half gallons for $5.00* which translates to $2.50 a gallon. Our local Martin's Supermarket also has milk on sale, 2 gallons for $5.00*, which also translates to $2.50 a gallon.
There are 16 cups in a gallon, so at $2.50 a gallon, that makes the cost of milk equal to $.15 per cup.
Using this price, if you freeze and later use 2 cups of milk a week, that is a savings of $.30/week or $15.60 a year. If you freeze and use a gallon of milk a week, that would translate to $130.00 a year. Since this is just an extra item in an already running freezer, I have not added any costs for the electricity for the actual freezing of the milk.
While savings of $15.60 a year might not sound like much, it is like getting over 6 gallons of free milk a year. Nice.
Of course your savings would be even greater as your cost of a gallon of milk increases. For example, if $5.00/gallon was your normal cost, then in our example, your savings would range from $31.20 a year to $260.00 a year.
For me, though, the cost savings would be considered a bonus. My real savings would be in the convenience of always having milk for cooking or for breakfast cereal as well as saving the time of making a special stop at the store for a gallon of milk. In addition, a round trip (8 miles each way = 16 miles total) to the store costs us about 3/4 gallon of gas, or about $2.69** in gas. Therefore, every time we avoid a special trip to the store for milk, we save at least $2.69 in gas for the car (as well as decreasing our carbon footprint!). If we assume that we save two extra trips per month, then that translates to another $64.56 per year in savings. It also saves 30 minutes to an hour of time for each trip!
So. freezing milk makes my life less stressful, and saves time, gasoline, and money. Now that's The Fat Dollar way!
Article by Patti Tokar Canton © 2012
*Kroger price as of 07-12-12
*Martins Supermarket price as of 07-12-12
**used a cost of $3.59 a gallon of gas for this calculation
Resources and references:
Book: Will It Freeze? An A to Z Guide to Foods that Freeze - Author Joan Hood for Home and Freezer Digest
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