Monday, March 15, 2010

The math of dairy

(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!


Crazy Homeschool Mama said...

I have switched over to organic milk and the hubs isn't understanding why....It is ususally cheeper than reg. milk at Safeway because they have 50% off stickers...close to pull date...we ALWAYS drink it faster and avg about 2 gallons per week...Found goat cheese at Grocery outlet...HEAVEN! Have cut out yogurt for the most part..too much sugar

Julie said...

Katey - have him read a bit about real milk vs. the cheap stuff at the store. That might convince him. Hooray for organic milk on sale!
My kids love yogurt. I'm hoping with the homemade we can sweeten it with honey or agave or some homemade jam or fresh fruit, and we also like yogurt in our smoothies.

Deb said...

You amaze me. I wish I had a 10th of your energy! (((hugs)))

Just Me said...

I want to. But haven't started yet. I'd like to try to find a few suppliers so I can compare prices. I don't know that I will do as much as you, but I at least want to start using raw milk and I'd like to at least try make butter. I am thinking about trying to make cheese, too, but not sure yet if I will.

Life said...

Go, you! I love it when economy and health meet :-)

Dani said...

I only buy organic milk as well. And I am trying to buy all natural as far as cheese, and yogurt. Lilli and Owen go through a lot of milk. Delaney hates it, and only uses it on cereal. She does love cheese and yogurt though.

I also have the issue of buying whole fat for the kids, and low fat/no fat for Mark. it's a PITA, but I have yet to find a local farm that offers products year round.

Wendy said...

Interesting! I don't know if it's possible to get fresh dairy where I am. There are some farms, but I'm not sure there are any dairy farms too close. I just think it's really cool that you're making the other dairy products out of the milk you're getting. I find it's often not cost effective to make you're own, but as you mention, there are so many other benefits. Plus, knowing me, I'd save the $8, and go to Starbucks for a couple drinks to celebrate.

Over spring break, we'll be staying at a dairy farm for a couple days. THat should be cool.

Wendy said...

Oh, I will say that all the dairy I eat (except for some imported cheeses), is organic. I've felt strongly about this for probably...over 15 years? (geez, am i that old?!). I've always thought you don't want to drink the milk of a mammal that is pumped with growth hormone - just doesn't sound intuitive.