(I'm doing this for my own benefit, but thought it might be of interest to like-minded readers.)
On average, we consume the following dairy per month:
Yogurt - 2 qt. - $3.50/qt = $7
Butter - 3 lbs - $2/lb = $6
Milk - 3 gallons - $3.89/ half gal = $23.34
Cheese - 3 lbs - $4/lb = $12
I prefer to buy "healthy" milk if we buy it from the store - non-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized, organic. That's why it's so expensive. I also buy organic yogurt. The cheese and butter are an "all natural" type, but not organic, so they're cheaper.
Total dairy consumption for one month: $48.34
From our local friends with their livestock, I intend to purchase $40 worth of milk each month - 4 gallons of cow's milk and 2 gallons of goat's milk.
Those six gallons will provide us with:
2 qts yogurt
2 lbs butter
3 gallons milk for drinking/cooking
2 pints buttermilk
3 lbs cheese
5 quarts whey
Buttermilk and whey are things I don't usually buy, but buttermilk pancakes are absolutely fantastic, and I'm starting to find ways to use the whey (a by-product of making cheese.)
I'll still need to buy 1 pound of butter each month from the store, or figure out a way to substitute something else for the butter in some baking (applesauce, coconut oil, etc.)
So I'm saving about $8 by buying our milk from a family-run farmstead and making our dairy products. I'll probably spend that $8 in things like cheddar and mozzarella, and other small bits of dairy for the time being, so I'll say we're pretty close to breaking even.
How much work does it take? Butter takes about half an hour, cheese takes about an hour (no matter what the quantity.) The cheese and butter can both be frozen successfully, as they don't keep as long as store bought, and Two Little Girls are already old enough to be helping with both processes. Also to be included in that is the time it takes to drive to the farm each week to get our milk - about 30 minutes each time we go (includes the to and from.)
The health benefit is worth the amount of work to me though. There are no hormones, antibiotics or steroids in the dairy we'll be eating, and the milk we'll be drinking is raw - full of real vitamins and nutrients and enzymes and healthy fat good for growing Two Little Girls.
Overall? This is definitely a wise choice for our family. Anyone else out there making the conversion to real dairy? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences!