Milk is one of those irritating issues for us. Even with an extra refrigerator out in the garage, trying to store a two week supply of fresh milk is enough to make me a little crazy.
I bought eight gallons two weeks ago. We’re on the last drops of the last gallon already – two days before my next shopping trip. Even though I was short at least one Denizen every single day since Shopping Day.
Ugh. I need at least ten gallons for two weeks. Probably twelve, if everybody is home. Argh. Have you ever tried to wedge twelve gallons of milk into a fridge? Or even two fridges? Especially when the house is regularly climbing over 80 degrees so you’ve got all the fruit in there too?
It’s enough to make a saint cuss. And I ain’t no saint.
Like everything else, the cost of a gallon of milk is creeping upward. We pay about $3.69 a gallon out here; usually, there will be one brand that offers about a dollar discount for a two gallon purchase - $6.39 for two gallons, for example.
Between the storage and the upward twitching of the price of a gallon of fresh, I’ve started thinking about powdered milk. I haven’t used the stuff in years, not since the price for a gallon of fresh dropped below that of powdered. I didn’t like the stuff anyway – chalky water with milk undertones? Blech.
One of my favorite sources for things like bulk food storage containers, freeze dried whatnots, emergency kits, enormous pails of rice and such is Emergency Essentials.
In addition to the aforementioned groovy stuff, they have powdered nonfat milk in 10# cans, each of which will make 4.75 gallons of milk. Each can costs $18.95…or you can get a three cases, a total of 18 cans (or 85.5 gallons) for $309.95, plus $12 for shipping. (By the way, their shipping maxes out at $12. So, with the exception of the Super Pails, you can add as much other stuff as you want to your order and still pay $12. In other words, this is a good company to give ONE BIG ORDER rather than three little ones.)
Assuming I didn’t buy anything else and the shipping was only for the milk, I’d be paying $3.77 a gallon for the powdered milk; if we used it for half our milk-needs, it would last me roughly four months.
Gads, we go through a lot of milk. ANYWAY, moving on.
So the last time I had an order, I added just one 10# can of milk to it. I paid a premium per gallon ($3.99), but I figured that was a small price to pay to try before I buy (in bulk). If it turned out to be nasty, I didn’t want to stuck with over $300 in milk we weren’t going to use.
Last night, doubt in my soul, I whipped up a gallon of the stuff and stuck it in the fridge.
This morning, I tried a tiny glass of it. With my face screwed up, ready to hate and despise it.
It…wasn’t half bad.
In fact, I thought that if you didn’t know it was powdered milk, you might just think it was, you know, just…nonfat milk. We don’t usually drink nonfat milk, so the flavor difference wasn’t as striking to me as it might be to someone who habitually drinks nonfat.
I used it in our muffins this morning, and none of the Denizens noticed anything different – and believe me, they are among the pickiest eaters in the universe. Knowing that I had used it, I was aware that the muffins were slightly less dense – airier, with a crumblier texture, and left out on the kitchen counter they got stale faster than their lowfat cousins.
But in terms of flavor…not a hint of that ‘chalk water’ powdered milk thing.
And then…the ultimate test. I made my husband and I a second round of mochas…secretly substituting half the fresh milk with the powdered.
I could taste no difference. My husband tasted nothing out of the ordinary.
I am pleased. And in this kind of packaging – in a nitrogen packed can containing an oxygen absorber – it really will last and last and last. Well beyond the four months I expect to have it around; probably as long as four years (the average for nonfat dry milk stored at ‘reasonable’ temperatures…if memory serves, at higher temperatures the shelf life drops dramatically, but I’m too lazy to go look it up right now).
When I place my next order, I will be ordering the 3 cases for the best price, both as a solution to my fridge-space crisis, and as a hedge against milk prices taking yet more nudges upward. Given that there will be other things sharing that $12 shipping, I figure my actual cost per gallon will probably be roughly $3.65, already better than the single gallon price. If the two-for-a-dollar-off brand climbs above $7.30, I’ll be saving money.
And much as I’d like to say, “Pfft! It’ll never happen!”…it’s already a dollar more per two gallons than it was a year ago. Another dollar doesn’t seem as unlikely as it did, way back in the grand old year of 2006.
Ah yes, 2006. I remember it well. When house prices never went down, only up, and gasoline was practically free, and we just sat around running our air conditioners all day long because there was no such thing as global warming or electricity bills…