Evaluating Our Monthly Milk Expense | How Much do you Spend on Milk?

by Marcy on May 14, 2013 · 13 comments


Our grocery budget is currently under the microscope. We are moving into yet another season of budget tightening due to several factors – the largest being that my income from this blog has rapidly decreased over the the last 12 months. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily – I felt myself getting too lax in the budgeting/spending department as my income rose – so now it’s time to get serious and start being a better steward of our finances. I have done it before and I know I can do it again.

As my kids grow, so does their appetite, and as I mentioned in my “how I’m saving money on snacks” post, I am having to buy a lot more food. And while we fly through both fruit and snacks at an alarming rate, we fly through milk at an even MORE alarming rate. Case in point: I purchased 3 gallons of milk on Saturday night and just over 3 days later we have already consumed 2 of them!! (We are a family of 4.) And while we definitely have room to improve in the milk-wasting department, I’m not sure that I’m to the point where I want to limit the amount of milk that my kids are drinking. That’s not saying that I won’t get to that point eventually…

I share all of this not only to lament our rapid milk consumption but to share how much I am spending on milk each week/month. You see – ever since my girls were old enough to drink milk I have been purchasing organic milk for them. They occasionally drink “regular” milk, but for the most part they only drink organic at home. I have shopped around and finally determined that the best price for a gallon of organic milk (near me) can be had at Whole Foods or Giant Eagle. And since Giant Eagle is not out of my way I usually end up there.

So how much am I spending on milk? Every week I have been purchasing 3 gallons of organic milk at $5.89 per gallon. That is $17.67 per week, for a monthly average of $76.57. That’s over $900 per year! (How much does a cow cost??) To someone who used to spend only $100/week on both groceries and household items, this seems insane to me!

Where do I go from here? I’m not really sure yet. Today I purchased 3 regular gallons at $2.50/ea. If I were to switch over to regular milk entirely I would lower my monthly average to $32.50 – a pretty big savings ($44.07/mo saved). Another option would be to purchase 1 gallon of organic and 2 of regular. That would lower my monthly average to $47.19 – still a pretty big savings ($29.38/mo saved).

What are your thoughts? How much milk do you purchase and do you have any strategies for saving? Or are you willing to spend more to buy organic? Have you found organic milk for less? Or is buying regular (non-organic) milk good enough for you?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dana May 14, 2013 at 3:39 PM

We switched from Organic to Almond milk and there are always coupons for either Almond Breeze or the market’s generic that has significantly lowered our cost. We only do one serving of it a day for our son and we rarely drink it and have uped our water drinking. I am the milkaholic in our family and while almond milk is good and serves its purpose I won’t just drink a large glass for the taste.

2 Jenny May 14, 2013 at 3:49 PM

I am interested to read everyone’s comments. I have been debating with the whole organic milk thing the last few months. I have bought some organic, but I have a really hard time spending $6 per gallon when I can sometimes find regular milk for $2 per gallon. My family of 4 drinks 2 gallons of milk per week – maybe less. My kids are not big milk drinkers. The would prefer to get their dairy intake from yogurt, cheese, or ice cream. Kids really only need 2 cups of milk per day or less if they are eating other dairy.

3 Cindy May 14, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Our family of 4 drinks quite a bit of milk as well. We average about 3 gallons a week. However, it is all my kids (ages 6 and 9) drink, with the exception of my son’s cup of juice every afternoon after school. They drink nothing else besides water. No soda or other sugar drinks. So I figure I’m saving some there. Something else we do is save their milk. If the don’t drink their whole glass at lunch, I save it for at dinner so that I’m not pouring milk down the drain.

4 Flutterbye May 14, 2013 at 4:26 PM

I think you may want to give your health an overhaul as well. Did you know that an increased rate of calcium in the diet raises the risk of heart disease and higher risk of colon cancer. There are lower fat ways of getting calcium. (Do you know broccoli provides high amounts). Perhaps milk should only be consumed to meet dietary recommendations instead of the major source of hydration in your family. Just giving you something to think about.

5 Jennifer May 14, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Have you checked Costco? They sell organic milk there. We have opted to limit our milk intake. Kevin and I hardly ever drink it anymore, the kids get it with dinner. Mine are older though and my youngest (8) does ask for it at breakfast sometimes. All in all we use 1-1.5 gallons of cow milk and 1/2 gallon of either soy or almond milk each week. Also 1/2 gallon of rice milk for cooking. It adds up for sure. One thing that has helped me in the food department is to realize the areas that are important to us to eat a certain way and then become mentally OK with spending the money.

6 Emily M May 14, 2013 at 9:46 PM

We are a family of 6 and we consume about 3-4 gallons per week. My kids have each, on their own, switched to drinking more water once they hit about 4 years of age, but I know some kids are milk-lovers – I’m a milk lover myself! I used to do the same as you, buy only organic milk for the kids (I actually used to buy organic for the kids and regular for the adults – for the purpose of spending less – it’s a little annoying but saved some money), and I shopped around for the best price. For awhile I could almost always find manager’s special at kroger and get it for half price. But they got smart about the waste and I couldn’t find it anymore. Finally I asked my pediatrician, and he said that the current thought is that according to the research: of course Organic is best if money is no object. But at this point, the research doesn’t support significant enough health benefits to justify the extra cost if money is tight. So I gave up and just started buying regular milk. Maybe someday if money is no issue (or we have 2 incomes) I’ll go back to organic…

7 Cheryl May 15, 2013 at 12:15 AM

I buy ‘regular’ milk (I thought all the milk in Ohio had to be hormone free now)
My husband doesn’t drink it, so there are only 3 of us that use it.
I try & make sure that my boys get 4-5 servings of dairy a day & I make sure they drink their milk from their cereal. (cheese, yogurt, string cheese & milk in oatmeal/cereal count as servings)
We go through almost 3 gallons a week (I use it in my coffee too)
At least once a month Aldi or Kroger has it on sale for 1.98/gallon. I thought Aldi’s had a sale of $1.87 this week & it was normal price ($2.50ish) I buy 4 (typically the limit) & freeze 3 after I pour off about 2 cups (more if it’s 2%). Then later in the week I go & buy 4 more & freeze those after pouring off the excess in the almost empty milk jug.
I know come summer time we will use more because I make pudding pops & my son will drink it with his lunch (He buys milk at school)

8 Leann May 15, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Check out this link…http://news.menshealth.com/is-organic-milk-healthier/2011/10/11/….they are the exact same thing!

9 Marcy May 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Thanks for posting that article Leann. I found the link to this site in the article: http://whereismymilkfrom.com/ I tracked where my Giant Eagle brand milk is from and it is from a farm in PA. Interesting stuff.

10 Rachel May 15, 2013 at 5:54 PM

We cannot afford on one income to buy organic. That being said, we go through a lot of milk. I typically buy 4 gallons of skim milk a week (I don’t drink milk, but my hubby and kids (age 6 and 3) do). I also buy a gallon of whole milk a week for my 1 year old. I try to buy it when it is on sale at Kroger (the only milk hubby will drink, as we have had bad experiences with our aldi milk and walmart milk). My kids drink milk, juice (1 glass a day) and water exclusively. to help it fit in on our budget I have cut back on some things that I buy, and I am shopping more at Aldi’s to make our budget stretch.

11 Cari Skuse May 15, 2013 at 9:08 PM

I’ve recently switched to whole organic grass-fed milk & whole regular milk after reading Rich Food Poor Food by Jayson & Mira Calton. It is amazing what yucky things they put in food. This book was a real eye-opener.
I follow some of their recommendations, but not all of them are available to me. They talk about how pasteurizing and homogenizing changes milk and why it is not good for everyone. If you get a chance to read the book, I recommend it!
Our family of 5 (with 3 ‘tweens) drinks about 2 1/2 gallons of milk a week + creamer for my coffee. I find that I like this milk more and it reminds me of the milk I drank as a kid. I try to get them and me drinking more water. I bought an infuser pitcher at Costco that I put fruits (like lemon and strawberry) into to make our own flavored water and it helps to get us to drink more water.

12 Jennife January 5, 2020 at 7:39 PM

We are a family of 5, 3 adult men and 2 adult women and we are going through. 6 to 7 gallons of milk in a week, I just realized this tonight when opening fridge to make dinner. I am at a loss for words upon this new discovery. For whole milk it’s about $3.60 at Walmart and up to $5.00 at the corner store. We live 17 Miles from a real town , Kissimmee / saint cloud, fl. So we only get to town 1 or 2x’ a week. I personally don’t even drink a 1/2 a gallon a week do I can’t figure where the milk goes between the other 4. Is 6 to 7 gallons a WK to much to go thru In 5 to 6 days? And the cost is killing me, as well as the reg food bill..Any thoughts?

13 Marcy February 3, 2020 at 6:05 PM

Do you have an ALDI nearby? I have been buying my dairy products and other staples there to save $.

Are you using a lot of milk in your recipes/cooking? Another idea is to simply stop buying so many gallons for one week and see if anyone notices/complains. Perhaps they will turn to water or another beverage if there isn’t milk there? Good luck!

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