How to Use Up Three Gallons of Milk in One Day

Guest Post by Katie from Kitchen Stewardship

Have you bumped into an incredible markdown on milk that expires tomorrow but you’re out of freezer space because you just completed a fabulous once-a-month cooking adventure with your favorite blogging mamas?

You don’t have to walk by that incredible deal for lack of freezer space!

Here are a few ideas for successfully using up a few gallons of milk in a day’s time:

Homemade Yogurt

I cannot say enough about the benefits, both nutritionally and financially, of making homemade yogurt. I make almost a gallon a week for my family of 3-and-a-half (you know how toddlers eat, so I can’t count her as a full serving). I figure I save at least $200/year on just this one make-from-scratch endeavor, plus my family benefits from a readily available snack choice and probiotics to boot.

Many bloggers sing the praises of making yogurt in the slow cooker, but I just can’t bring myself to wash that insert so often. My method creates zero dishes other than the jars used to hold the yogurt. You can do it with no special equipment and just a little courage; you will be growing bacteria, but don’t let that scare you!

It’s this easy:

  1. Heat the milk to 180 degrees.
  2. Let it cool to 110.
  3. Stir in 2 Tbs plain yogurt per quart of milk.
  4. Keep it in a picnic cooler with a pot of hot water for 4-16 hours.
  5. Done. $10 worth of yogurt for $2, and that’s if the milk is regular price.

Want to know my no-dishes secret? Here is my homemade yogurt guide, with pictures and hand-holding advice to make it ultra simple. Not sure how to use plain yogurt? Here are some ideas for yogurt recipes.

Cream of Vegetable Soup

You can use varying amounts of milk and chicken broth to make a cream of vegetable soup, so obviously to use up your clearance milk you will make a heavy-on-the-milk version. It’s one of my favorite soups for both palate and pocketbook.

I keep a bag in the freezer for random unfinished steamed side veggies, and when it gets half full, it’s time to make “leftover” cream of vegetable soup. It’s always a bit different!

You can use just potatoes or any veggie you have sitting in your fridge or freezer. See my cream of vegetable soup recipe for all the details.

Whole Grain Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a dessert from my childhood that ranks among my very favorite. Now that I’m a mom, I love the recipe even more because it’s short on ingredients and prep time and huge on versatility.

1 cup rice
2 cups boiling water
4 cups milk
1/4-3/4 cup sugar, to taste
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbs butter

Boil rice in water for 15 minutes (brown rice) or 3 minutes (white). Drain off water. Add milk and bring carefully to a boil, medium heat, cover off, stirring often. Turn to low, cover and cook 60-90 minutes (brown) or 15-30 minutes (white) until pudding is thick and milk seems to have all been absorbed. Don’t stir too often during this time, but watch for scorching on the bottom of the pan. The finished product will have the consistency of a thick tapioca pudding, but it will gel up a bit after cooling. Turn off heat, then add sugar, vanilla and butter. Garnish with cinnamon.

You could easily make a double batch to knock out an entire half gallon of milk. Your family will thank you.

Pancakes

Many pancake and waffle recipes call for a cup or two of milk, so this is not rocket science, but it’s definitely a way to use up the last bit of your gallons. Our family’s go-to pancake recipe involves an overnight soak, so you could really get rid of the milk before the next day if you wanted to show off your frugal skills and truly accomplish “three gallons of milk in one day.” A double batch takes 4 more cups of milk, and they last fine in the fridge for easy breakfasts throughout the week.

Cream of {X} Soup

If you have a smidge of room in your freezer, you can make cream of {x} soup and freeze in flat plastic bags to use in casseroles that call for cream of chicken or mushroom soup.

If not, you can make the soup right away, and it should keep for the week as you incorporate it in various meals. I made three casseroles in one hour for last month’s modified once-a-month cooking, which used 6 more cups of milk. You can find the recipe for cream of {x} soup and all three casseroles here.

Katie Kimball blogs at Kitchen Stewardship, where she offers weekly Monday Missions to help you baby step your way to balancing all God’s gifts while working in the kitchen. She wants to be the Flylady of the kitchen for you. Get the scoop on nutrition, environmentalism, budget and time management, as well as family-friendly, real food recipes and a dose of random humor. And yogurt. Lots and lots of yogurt.

What are your favorite ways to use up extra milk? Tell us in the comments!

photo credits: calliope; Longiee; Strausser

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Making the Most of What You Have (Guest Post)

Guest Post by My Friend Kelly

January is over and the Eating From the Pantry Challenge has come to a close. While you may be ready to dive back into grocery shopping, couponing, and restocking, don’t let the momentum end here. The principles behind this challenge can be applied to a variety of other projects which can help cut costs, de-clutter your home, and streamline daily life. Sometimes this means using up excess stock and other times the focus is getting more regular use out of non-expendable items.

Here’s a few ways to do that:

Personal Hygiene Products

Whether or not you can find coupons and deals on the food your family eats, most everyone will be able to find a rebate or rewards deal on hygiene products at one of the drug stores or national chains around the country. Using what you learned during Eating from the Pantry Month, give yourself 30 days before buying any new personal hygiene products. In the meantime, clear out your bathroom cabinets and see what you still need and what you don’t.

Finish up half-used bottles of shampoo and conditioner and use the last bits of lotion from gift sets. Replace the razors with dull blades or broken handles and if you have liquid soap, refill pump bottles.  Toss broken combs or hair accessories and use up the last inch of mousse or gel before starting a new bottle. If someone in your family opposes a particular brand and you have unopened items consider putting together a care package. Check out this post for ideas on what to send and who to send it to.

Pull out fresh floss and mouthwash to improve your oral hygiene and health. If you haven’t swapped out your toothbrush in the past three months or have recently gotten over an illness open up a new one but don’t throw out the old just yet–a toothbrush can clean more than your molars!

Household Cleaners

Maintaining a clean house doesn’t have to take hours and hundreds of dollars in premium cleaning products. Use similar tactics to inventory what you have, see what you need, stretch what you use and find substitutes.  While you’re digging under the sinks use up the last little bit of general cleaner and wipe down the shelves. Try to identify what you use each product to clean and how often you use up a bottle.

Don’t just think about products but other supplies as well.  Re-purpose old towels from the kitchen or bath as cleaning rags, use old worn out toothbrushes to scrub small crevices, find an old pillowcase to clean ceiling fan blades, or lone socks to dust. If you find you have a pile of dusting rags you can reduce the amount of paper towels you buy.

Office supplies

How many different places in your house do you have a stash of pens? Notepads? Tape? Round everything up and sort it out (old shoe boxes come in handy here) and toss or donate what you don’t use.  Find out what you’ll need for everyday use and what school-aged children can take to class. Just like the pantry challenge, make do with what you have–blue pens can work just as well as black ones–and substitute where you can. Whether you write grocery lists on the back of a used envelope or reuse file folders these tactics can keep money in your pocket and clutter out of your home.

Centralize one place for commonly misplaced items like tape, scissors, and sharpies. Or is that just my house?

Crafts & Decorations

If you can be described as crafty, then you’re probably well aware of the dangers that entrap quilters, scrapbookers, knitters and painters alike. It’s easy to hoard supplies and fill drawers, bins and yes, even rooms with projects that we have no hope of finishing in ten lifetimes. Make the commitment to stop buying new supplies for one month and go “shopping” at home. Dig through your stock and try to remember what project you had in mind when you brought home these items.

Finish an old project or start a new one, substitute one component instead of buying new, and give away things you won’t use to someone who will. Consider a swap amongst friends or just a potluck night in when everyone can bring a dish and a project and work together.

As Spring rolls around it can be easy to get tired of our surroundings and want something new and fresh.  Check your attics, basements, and closets for decorative items that were put away or forgotten. Re-hang a picture or touch up the paint on a table. Move around some furniture, pull out the throw blankets, fill glass vases and use the good china.  Put a new picture in an old frame or clear everything off a wall and paint it fresh.  Look for things you already have that can be used in new and interesting ways.

There are also some things we can be getting more use out of, things that are not necessarily used up.

Entertainment

Do you have family games gathering dust? Puzzles, video games, books or movies that go unused? The same principles apply even if using an entertainment item will not expend it for future use. Pull out all your puzzles and look them over together. Maybe some are missing too many pieces, another too advanced for younger children, some too juvenile for older children. Keep what you’ll use, recycle what you won’t. Donate unused items to your school or church, ask friends if their children would enjoy something new.

Do your kids have piles of half used or broken crayons? Turn them into a craft project. Go through your books and weed out volumes you no long read, reference or enjoy. Do the same for family pictures by tossing prints that are fuzzy or faded, or pictures that have no personal meaning or value. Be careful about tossing older photos that may have some value to another family member. Check out this post for tips on preserving family memories.

Clothes

If you find yourself wearing the same outfits over and over again try the Empty Closet Challenge.  Pull everything out and box up things that don’t fit or flatter your figure.  Work with what you have and fill in pieces that will create attractive looks that fit your lifestyle.  At the end of the month pull out the boxes of discarded clothes and sell them by consignment or eBay, return new items to the store, donate to a charity or give to a friend. Don’t forget to look over belts, scarves, jackets, shoes, and jewelry too. Rethinking a wardrobe can be challenge–check out this site for ideas on using thrift store finds to create stunning new looks for under $20!

I know it seems overwhelming when you think of all the places to apply the principles you learned during Eating from the Pantry Month. But just like January, take one thing at a time, make adjustments as you go, and share what you’ve learned. By 2011, you might just have a cleaner, uncluttered home, more money in the bank and new routines. Then your only challenge will be finding a New Year’s Resolution you haven’t already accomplished!

Kelly is a 25 year old single homeowner living in Northern California. Despite a high cost of living and tough job market, Kelly has created a cozy home without acquiring debt. Now just $3,000 away from eliminating student loans (the last of consumer debt), Kelly looks forward her first trip abroad, thrift store decorating, and teaching financial awareness. Kelly blogs at My Friend Kelly.

Photo credit: Fauxto_credit; Kevin McShane; Patrick Q

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