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Reader Tip: How We Save $133 On Milk Per Year

Felicia from Mommy Excursions emailed in this tip:

The national average cost for a gallon of milk is $3.79, or $0.24 a cup. To make this stretch farther, we simply add four cups of water to half a gallon of whole milk. This will make an extra eight cups of milk per gallon resulting in the cost being $0.16 a cup. We use, on average, two gallons of milk each week so this method saves us around $133 a year!

If you are interested in trying this, I recommend that you always buy whole milk and always add the water before first drinking any milk from the container. Lastly, it can be hard to get used to. I recommend starting out slow by adding a half cup to one cup water per half gallon milk for a week or two, then go to two cups and gradually work up to adding four cups of water per half gallon. -Felicia

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285 Comments

  • Autumn says:

    My 5yr old son is allowed 1 cup and 1 cup of juice each day. After that, it’s water. He knows the rules and still drinks 5-6 glasses of water each day. The only problem is that he’s eating us out of house and home! We have no problem with him not eating, and I think it’s largely because he’s not getting filled up on drinks!

  • Courtney says:

    Different things work for different families. Personally, I would rather limit the amount of milk that our kids drink than go to the trouble of diluting it – plus, I just can’t imagine that diluted milk tastes very good!

  • april says:

    i do this with our milk..my 3 (ages 4, 11, 14) go through milk like crazy so this def helps the budget. Im not worried about calcium intake because they 1. take a vitamin daily 2. eat plenty of veggies that contain calcium and 3. drink calcium fortified oj(most of the time, but they have plenty of sources if they dont)and 4. eat plenty of other dairy products(cheese, yogurt)

    When they were all under the age of 2 i did not water their whole milk down so they would get the fats they needed.

  • Reading all these comments make me thankful that our milk in Central Ohio is so reasonable. I can get a half gallon at Buehler’s for $.79 on Tuesdays. {Once a week sale.} or I pay around $2.50 a gallon when it’s on sale. I’m proud to say we drink alot of milk in our family and love it. My son loves milk and won’t drink juice. I like to support our hard working dairy farmers and find that milk is a healthy choice for our family. I choose to buy it instead of pop. {translation: soda} 🙂

  • Nicole says:

    What makes me give these replies the side-eye more than anything is the carte blanche everyone seems to be giving their pediatrician. I can’t imagine doing anything just because my pediatrician recommended it. And I adore and respect him. But I still don’t think because he said so equals an informed decision.

    FWIW, my kids get whole milk from weaning to about age 2, then we switch to skim, because that’s what the adults in the house use. But we also don’t keep most juices or any soda in the house. They can have them if we go out, though. (Well, the 6 year old can, not so much the 14 month old.) They’re both really good about eating veggies (especially broccoli), so I don’t worry about them not getting calcium, etc.

    • Andrea Q says:

      I totally agree and commented above. Doing your own research is so important. And if you’re concerned, see a nutritionist (or other specialist).

  • Maggie says:

    I honestly think this isn’t great advice. I agree with the one who said that there are many ways to save money without cutting down on nutritional value, especially for our kids. Processed, store bought milk is ‘diluted’ enough as is, why rob the people drinking it even more by diluting it down? Milk is the one thing that I won’t even try to save money on. We buy non-homogenized milk from the farmer’s market or places that sell local products (non-homogenized simply means the cream rises to the top so you have to shake it–it’s still low temperature pasteurized.). Every whole foods I’ve been to has had this option from a local farm–the milk is usually in glass bottles that you pay an extra deposit for and bring back every week. We pay 2.50 per half gallon and go through two to three half gallons a week, depending on how much I use milk in recipes or for baking. There are so many better tips on saving money and still maintaining the integrity of the food you feed your family–growing some of your own food, cutting out processed and pre-packaged food (which is really one of the most expensive things–and one of the most ‘couponed’ things–this could save money and coupon clipping time) , baking what you would usually purchase (breads, waffles, ect), buying simpler ingredients. If you’re this concerned about the price of milk, just cut back on the number of glasses they drink per day and make sure your kiddos get plenty of those vitamins from other things–cheeses, yogurt and plenty of fruits and veggies. Plus, who really wants to drink watered down milk? And how much time are you taking to water down milk to only save $133 a year? That’s only 2.55 a week. There are so many better ways to save that amount of money per year.

    • B says:

      I agree with you Maggie, well said! We could water down a lot of things to save money but that doesn’t mean they are still the same product as before. Watered down gas will destroy your car (sadly I know this truth too well).
      I believe in saving money, but I don’t believe in living skimping to the point it hurts my family or others.

  • Haila says:

    Interesting discussion, though I’m not reading anything about Vitamin D. There’s been increasing research about how important that is, and fortified dairy is one of the better ways to get it. (Sunshine too, of course, but many of us northern climate folks don’t have that as a ready year-round option.) Unlike calcium, there aren’t many good other options. I wish they’d supplement more stuff, maybe that’s coming.

    One last question – purely out of curiosity, does everyone here keep their kids at home and never let them eat anywhere else? Undiluted milk is the norm in many schools and restaurants…

    • Fay says:

      You can get vitamin d by taking fish oil also. The carlson’s Norwegian Cod Liver Oil has 100% Vitamin D in it. Plus, just to get that Vitamin, why would you want to add the extra calories that come with milk anyway??

  • There must be a better way to save $133 than to do this!

    • Natalie says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking, Maureen! If you don’t drink milk, that’s great for you and your family, but mine does and this idea does not sound appetizing. If I really needed to save the $133, I’m sure there are at least a dozen other ways I could do that in the course of a year. But, that’s just me!

      • Hey Natalie. I do drink milk and buy it at the local farmer’s market. It’s really delicious milk so I do drink milk. However, I just know of so many other ways to save than to add water to it. I just think it must taste awful all watered down like that. Yuck!

  • Amy W says:

    Aldi in the Cincinnati area has gallons for $1.79 !

  • I am thankful that we are able to get milk for $2.99. Also, Skim milk is often a few cents cheaper as well. I still have my girls drink at least 2% milk and I drink the skim. If they get juice it is typically watered down. I agree that feeding your family more healthy fruits and veggies are tremendous help, but I think for the moment we are going to continue feeding them milk too. I enjoyed reading all the suggestions and comments!

  • Amy W says:

    FYI to those above… my chiro says the best way to lose weight is to cut out dairy!

    • Amina says:

      Different people have different nutritional needs 🙂

      For some this might work. Others (like me) need the protein and fats that are easily available in raw milk. As others have mentioned, consulting a licensed nutritionist is generally a good idea when making dietary decisions. Most doctors do not receive nutrition training in medical school and may not be experts on matters of nutrition.

    • Lori says:

      Chiropractors are not experts in nutrition. Please consider consulting a Registered Dietitian.

  • Sarah says:

    My kids get 2-3 cups of milk per day, and it’s not all cow milk. Some of it is almond mill, and it’s muck cheaper to learn how to make it on your own. Here is a good set of instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Milk-an-Almond-fresh-homemade-almond-milk/

  • Fay says:

    If you have Fresh and Easy’s near your home, I have a friend that purchases Organic Milk from them at 50% off. She knows which day they do the mark downs. She makes Yogurt with the excess milk and drinks what she needs.

  • Angie says:

    I’m at work and don’t have time to read all the comments so I apologize if this is a repeat question, but I must ask: What is the advantage of watering down milk vs. buying powdered milk? If I wanted to water down milk, I would just buy the powdered kind.

  • We Drink Milk... says:

    Wow! I was just telling my husband last night that I’m amazed how free we seem to feel about leaving harsh, judgmental comments on blog posts. Many of the differing opinions on here have been offered with respect, but some are just rude and hateful.

    It was a post on how she saves money on milk. Obviously her family likes milk and she has found a way to say that works for them. We should be happy for her that she’s found something that works! If we have suggestions or differing opinions they should be presented respectfully. For example, there are many reasons I know this wouldn’t work in my family. Most of the reasons are related to the fact that with my family, we drink different varieties (whole, 2%, 1%) because we prefer the different tastes. However, we all like milk so we go through several gallons each week. I don’t see that changing unless/until we just become completely unable to afford it.

    As far as whether milk is healthy or unhealthy, I’ve read many of the studies, both pro & con, and ultimately it’s a personal decision. You can find a study telling you that everything you consume is good for you and bad for you. There is no agreement across the board on anything. We all do what’s best for our own families. I do what’s best for mine, if it doesn’t work for yours then you shouldn’t do it. But if it works for mine, and my family is happy & healthy, why does anyone feel the need to judge what I’m doing?

    Crystal provides an incredible service with this blog. She’s pretty clear about the fact that she intends it to be encouraging and inspirational and she does a GREAT job of that. Shouldn’t we try to do the same with our comments?

    • We Drink Milk... says:

      Agh! I proofread & proofread & proofread before I submit… But obviously “a way to say that works” should be “a way to SAVE that works” LOL

    • Anna J says:

      Just a quick comment that I completely agree – we all have different families, different beliefs about nutrition, different body chemistry, and many other reasons that this particular tip may or may not work for us. I think the good thing about this tip was to maybe help someone think outside the box and that it was unspoken in the OP that each of us could think through the nutritional ramifications of that decision for ourselves.

      • Michele says:

        I am amazed how each time I read these comments that grown adults can not simply read a tip & think, “That’s not for me.” and move along. We are all trying to do what is best for our families. we should support that! Well said!

    • Kristine says:

      I agree. Well said.

  • Kathryn says:

    As I always say to folks, each family is different and everyone has different approaches/philosophies. For my family, I would never even think about altering the consistency of the Borden’s Milk that I buy since it tastes SO GOOD ~ and I buy between 8-10 gallons a week! This is THE brand of milk my husband prefers to drink. Borden’s Skim Milk is like no other. Drinking milk is a great way to maintain or lose weight and no, this doesn’t include ice cream shakes or floats ~ sorry ladies. Milk is a great source of calcium which is what women desperately need for bone structure/strength and it is just one good source. Don’t bash milk since there are probably a lot of other foods that our society eats that are 100 times worse. One can be money wise in many places but when you don’t have money worries on your shoulders, you can actually splurge a bit without any hesitation. Y’all have a great day!

  • Haila says:

    While there may be some savings from watering down milk, my thought if you can’t consider the entire amount to be savings.

    If your kids are drinking water, not milk, they’re getting fewer calories. That means (assuming you’re not also trying to have your kids lose weight) that they’ll be consuming more calories somewhere else. I know for a fact that whether I have a glass of milk or water with breakfast makes a big difference how hungry I am by lunch.

    Some of those calories may well be cheaper than dairy, but they’re probably not 100% free…

  • ksenia says:

    I pay about $4.25 for a half gallon of fresh, local, non-homogenized (very lightly pasteurized) organic milk from a small farmer. And it comes in a glass bottle. This lasts us about a week. Yes it’s pricey, but I make cuts and compromise in other areas of our budget to give my kids the absolute best milk option there is.

    • Crystal says:

      We miss our glass-bottled milk that we used to get in Kansas City. 🙁 Still searching for a good source here. Nothing beats milk from a local farm!

      • Julie says:

        Where do you live in Kansas? You can send me an email directly — I work for a local dairy in Nebraska, which is not local for you, but we may have some contacts in your area.

      • Allison V. says:

        Crystal, our “local store” has glass-bottled milk. Not sure on the brand or the price, but I have seen it at the VC location, and I bet they have it at PC too…

      • Cambria says:

        Where did you get it from in Kansas City? We are living out at Whiteman AFB and would love more options. 😀

  • Sarah says:

    Wow, this discussion seems a little more heated than I would have expected.

    1. What’s right for one family isn’t always right for another. We should be encouraging each other, not putting down each other’s thoughts and ideas for what works for THEM.
    2. Breastfeeding may be the ideal, but women shouldn’t be put to shame if something causes them to not be able to. I nursed my oldest for 8 months. She was extremely ill the entire time. We later found out she was allergic to my milk. In addition, I had problems with my dopamine regulation, and became depressed and suicidal every time I nursed. I’m tired of people telling me I’m a bad mother for choosing to not nurse my second. If putting a child on formula is the WORST thing you ever do as a parent, you’re doing pretty good.
    Let’s encourage. The power of words is very strong.

    • Melissa says:

      I’m so sorry. 🙁 (((hug))) I agree with your post. I find that as women, we can really tear one another down with our judgmental words. I wasn’t able to even attempt to nurse my son as he was on a feeding tube, and I felt super judged because I didn’t last pumping very long, but later found out part of it was because I was very ill with a serious infection that I wasn’t aware of (C-diff). My other son I nursed until month 8, and (long story) I got mastitis numerous times and just had to stop. I felt very judged by a lot of people and that was really hard….ultimately, we need to respect and encourage- you are right, the power of words is very strong. Imagine what the world would be like if we would encourage one another and support one another’s decisions rather than tear each other down in an effort to prove we are “right.”

    • Crystal says:

      Hugs to you! And I so agree that we can learn from others and be inspired by others, but we ultimately need to do what we feel is best for our families — even if that is different than what our friend, relative or neighbor chooses to do. Life would be awfully dull if we all were carbon copies of one another. 🙂

      • Sarah says:

        “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

        This should be the verse we think about from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep!

    • Sarah M. says:

      Thanks for your words on breastfeeding! Before my son was even conceived, doctors, nurses, and even just random people were telling me “breast is best!”. I was positive I would BF exclusively for the first year. Then I had almost the exact same experience as you, but only went 6 weeks BFing before we realized he had multiple food protein intolerances and was not tolerating my milk. It was actually making him quite sick. We turned to a dairy/soy free formula (Neocate), and it saved his health and my sanity. The choice was made way too difficult by well meaning people telling me that formula was “poison”. Now that he is one year old and he’s outgrown his intolerances, I’m grateful for milk, because $6/gallon for organic milk is cheap compared to the $40/can we were paying for his special formula!

      Like some of the above posters, I too once thought humans shouldn’t drink milk (I’ve been a vegetarian 20 years) but my mind was changed by 2 things:

      1. During pregnancy I became extremely ill with a mix of hyperemesis and gestational diabetes. I drank milk (and ate eggs) for the first time in my life, and found it was the only way I could get enough protein to grow my baby and balance my blood sugar. Despite my LOSING 15 pounds during my pregnancy, I had a healthy, nearly 7 pound baby.

      2. For babies who can’t BF for whatever reason (and there are many, many valid reasons) milk formula is literally a life saver. In the wild, an animal who can’t drink it’s mother’s milk simply dies. We’re very lucky to have another option.

      And to the above comments about humans being the only animals to cook our food… monkeys have been found to occasionally hold their food over fire as well. 🙂

      • Sarah says:

        We seem to have similar stories…and names 🙂

        I was severely ill with my firstborn all 9 months. I too lost weight. The parents who attacked me because of my issues with nursing, obviously never had a child who screamed 10+ hours a day, projectile vomited large amounts after every nursing, and didn’t smile until the day we started her on formula.

        I agree. I’m grateful there are options, and I’m grateful to have been blessed with a healthy family. In the end, that’s all that matters…children who are loved and cared for, happy and healthy.

      • Kristine says:

        That’s so interesting. I’ve been a vegetarian for most of the past 15 years, but my experience during pregnancy was totally different. I had to stop drinking milk while I was pregnant with my first child, and I was vegan for the next few years. I breastfed my son until he was 10 months old, and then he just stopped sucking, so I had to switch to formula until he was old enough to drink milk. (I used cow’s-milk formula because I was doubtful about the healthiness of some of the ingredients in soy formula.) Then, at 12 months, my son wouldn’t drink cow’s milk, so we had to find alternatives.

        My second pregnancy was with twins, and I developed systemic candida problems during the pregnancy, and I was plagued with, among other symptoms, a yeast infection in my breasts after the babies were born, which made it painful to breastfeed them. It took a while to resolve that, and although I continued to breastfeed until my twins were 12 months old, it was a very stressful experience.

        I think the fact that all of our experiences are so different just shows that we each have to do what’s best for our family, and what works for one family may not work for another. 🙂

  • lola says:

    We drink milk. On average, I pay $1.99 per gallon at Aldi or maybe $2.79 a gallon at Walgreens or Rite Aid. That is approximately $2.00 per gallon less than the national average cost of milk stated by the author of this article. So 2 gallons a week (one gallon skim, one gallon 2 percent) x 52 weeks = 104 gallons per year. 104 gallons x $2.00 price difference = $208.00 yearly savings. That’s more savings and better quality than drinking watered down moo juice.

    • Crystal says:

      I only wish milk was $1.99 at our Aldi. 🙁 A half gallon almost costs that much here!

      But, we have great deals on other things, so I can’t complain! There are pros and cons to everywhere you live!

      • Sarah says:

        I paid $5.29 for a gallon yesterday….luckily I had one of the “free milk” coupons from Albertsons, but that only covered $3.99. It was the cheapest gallon in the store, I was shocked!

  • Kathryn says:

    Just a little tidbit for society…

    “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

  • Camille says:

    We only go through a 1/2 gallon of milk a week because I simply limit the amount of milk my kids get. They get one 8 oz serving per day of fluid milk. The rest of their dairy intake is from cheese, yogurt, etc. When they are thirsty, they get water. In fact, they are so used to water that whenever we go out to eat and their kids meals come with a beverage (juice, milk, soda), they don’t drink it! They ask for water.

  • Melissa says:

    A hearty kudos to Felicia for sharing her tip. I’m sure she didn’t mean to cause so much controversy over such a simple thing her family does to save money. I’m certain that if someone said they diluted juice no one would have such strong opinions.I always water down our whole milk while cooking to make it stretch further. All that said, I’m thankful for all the input this site provides:)

    • Megan says:

      Melissa, I agree. A seemingly helpful tip has turned into a debate and I find that an extreme turn-off. I think that if you have praise for a tip, that’s wonderful, but to criticize another is not needed.

      Our family generally dislikes milk because of the taste. My husband, 4-year-old and I barely make it through 2 gallons a month. Our daughter clamors for water more than anything (thank the Lord!) so we only use milk for cereal and cooking.

  • sarah says:

    I’m frustrated – I don’t have time to read hundreds of comments that don’t have anything to do with saving money on milk, which is actually the post topic and the topic I’m interested in! Not interested in a conversation about the nutritional merits of milk.

  • lyss says:

    Ha ha! I knew when you posted this that it would spark a million opinions! And everyone has done their research and still come to differing conclusions. Hilarious. 🙂

  • Please do not follow this advice if you have children, particularly very young children. The first thing that bothers me about this is that it reduces the nutritional benefit of drinking milk and the other is a matter of hygiene. Milk in a sealed container is not sterile, but it is pasteurized and introducing water using a receptacle that may not be sanitary could cause the milk to sour more quickly or possibly introduce pathogenic bacteria into the container. I don’t see that the savings a few dollars is worth it.

  • Julie says:

    I work part time for a local dairy doing demo’s in grocery stores on the weekends. They are one outfit that is really trying to be good stewards of the land as well as their livestock, and encourages patrons to visit their operation. One thing I did not see mentioned is that generally whole milk is always going to be more expensive because all the cream is kept in the milk. For example, last weekend we were selling gallons of skim, 1% and 2% for $2 (this was a good sale!), but the whole milk was on sale for $2.74. In other words, the dairy is already doing what you do at home (by watering it down, essentially), but in a more controlled environment. Also, if you are looking to save money, do some research and find a local dairy. We give our patrons information on sales, coupons, etc by email. ALSO, I get to take home the leftovers from demo’ing — so on those Saturdays that I work, I also get around 2 gallons of milk for free.

    • Kristine says:

      It depends on where you live. Where I live, skim milk is cheaper than whole milk, but in many other places, they’re the same price.

  • Susan says:

    We stock up on milk at $2 or less then freeze it. Regarding kids and milk, mine gag on it, we get about 1 cup down a day with dinner and the rest is water. They didn’t grow up with juice so aren’t used to it.

  • Lori says:

    As a Registered Dietitian it is concerning to me for both children and adults that you are reducing the nutritional content of a beverage that is high in multiple vitamins and minerals. I would find other ways to save money.

  • Susan says:

    Chill out, folks. If you don’t like her advice, don’t follow it. I’m amazed at what triggers a “mommy war.” It’s just what works for *her* family. You have to do what works for yours.

  • Debbie Lindsay says:

    Two things mothers should NEVER water down for their children — formula and milk!
    Please talk to your pediatrician about nutritional needs — and remember that an adult body is different than a child’s body.
    I am horrified that a mother would water down and limit the nutrition for their child.

  • Debbie Lindsay says:

    ps — I forgot to mention in previous post — that I am an avid money saving mom — but my household goes thru 6 gallons of milk a week! I shop sales and stretch it with powdered milk (same principle of the water thing but using powdered milk)

  • Aberline says:

    This is one of those situations where I’d rather make do with less than have as much as I want of something digusting.

  • Woo hoo so I’m not the only one who does this? We go through 3 gallons a week easy and with a $60 per week grocery budget, I had to do sonething! My husband “caught” me the other day and no one noticed until then! NOW he says it tastes watery!

  • Maureen says:

    I think it depends on where you live what the cost of milk is. In our area milk is 2.05 a gallon with shoppers club. I used to water down my kids juice but not the milk. I would not water down the milk. I always used 2% and then it we changed to 1%.

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