Inducing Lactation Is Not An Option.
August 21, 2014 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Problem: every time I buy a quart of milk, it spoils before I can use more than a few tablespoons. Goal: be able to drink coffee at home on the weekends without wasting a gallon of milk a month. Solution: ?????

I live alone. I work long hours, and as such rarely eat breakfast at home. But on weekends, I like to get up early and drink coffee while I write. I take my coffee with milk, but since I only use milk in my coffee, I very quickly end up with lots of spoiled milk. Lately I've been getting up on the weekends and driving to a coffee shop, but it's cutting into my weekend writing schedule (once I'm dressed and out of the house, I tend to come up with a million other things to do besides write).

Help me come up with a solution to my milk problem!

Axiomatic: I take my coffee with milk. It has to be milk, not non-dairy creamer. I'm also pretty grossed out by the prospect of powdered milk.

All other bets are off. Think as deeply outside the box as you want, anything from frozen milk cubes to canned/condensed milk to a way to somehow use up a quart of milk a week despite almost never being home.
posted by Sara C. to Food & Drink (58 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Buy shelf-stable aseptic milk cartons and open 'em one at a time?
posted by Andrhia at 4:11 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]

Milk freezes really well. Freeze it in ice cube trays, and thaw only as much as you need (1 or 2 cubes?) on the weekends before adding to your coffee.
posted by rhapsodie at 4:11 PM on August 21 [11 favorites]

Buy ultrapasteurized milk. Ultrapasteurized lasts much longer than the regularly-pasteurized stuff. Most of the lactose-free milk is ultrapasteurized if you're having trouble finding it and basically tastes the same.
posted by brainmouse at 4:11 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]

I've tried some different things over the years for this problem but I think it comes down to finding smaller containers of milk. Like drink-box sized.
Non-lactose milk goes bad more slowly than regular milk and tastes exactly the same.
Check the temp on your fridge? Maybe it's not cold enough?
Condensed milk and powdered milk were both pretty gross IMHO.

Eventually I wound up switching to half-and-half. It tastes better and they sell it in smaller containers that I can use up before they go bad.
posted by bleep at 4:12 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Would half and half work? You could use something like these.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 4:12 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Ugh, do not buy ultrapasteurized milk - that stuff is nasty and you might as well add water to your coffee. Plus I've never seen it in the US, it seems to be mostly European, but then again I drink raw milk so I haven't exactly been looking for it.

I vote for either freezing it in ice cube trays or buying half and half, making some white sauces to use it up.
posted by lpcxa0 at 4:12 PM on August 21

I buy ultrapasteurized milk from Heritage Organic. The store where I buy it sells it when the expiration date is more than a month away, and it really does last that long if I refrigerate it. Their website advertises a 90 day shelf life.
Maybe there's a similar option in your area.
posted by kidbritish at 4:13 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]

Maybe evaporated milk, or dry milk if you aren't also using it to cool the coffee?
posted by dilettante at 4:13 PM on August 21

Make ice cream on the weekend.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:14 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

I once had a long conversation about powdered milk with a representative of the New Zealand Dairy farmers. Most American powdered milk is

So try Nido, which is full fat, and make it with icy cold water.

Another option is shelf stable milk, Horizon makes it.

Most Organic milk, national brands and store brands, is ultra pasteurized. Just look for a Use By date FAAARRR into the future.

And then, there are always Mini Moos.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:14 PM on August 21

Lactose-free milk does NOT taste the same to me. I'd also do the freezer bit in ice cube trays. You might need to pull them out in advance so they don't cool your coffee too much.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:14 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

Buy pints, not quarts.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:14 PM on August 21 [17 favorites]

At least in my part of the world, you can buy milk in pints at convenience stores. Doesn't solve the shelf-life problem, but you waste half as much?
posted by skyl1n3 at 4:14 PM on August 21

Also you can put milk in many recipes that call for water and it makes it richer.
posted by bleep at 4:15 PM on August 21

Buy shelf-stable single cups of milk. e.g. these - I know Whole Foods carries them, other stores may as well.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:15 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

half&half lasts a lot longer, you need a lot less of it, and is out of this world delicious, compared to milk.
posted by nadawi at 4:18 PM on August 21 [13 favorites]

Lactose-free milk does NOT taste the same to me.

This is true. It tastes better! Also it often costs a bunch more.

Milk comes in smaller containers. Buy those. Alternately, just drink the milk before it spoils.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:18 PM on August 21

Yeah, pints. Two pints, maybe. One stays closed until you finish the other one.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:18 PM on August 21

I have a similar problem, and this is in my Amazon cart, and I'll probably be buying it at some point in the next month. I share your reflexive skepticism about powdered milk, but I did a bunch of internet research and this one has awesome reviews (some reviewers said it's more delicious than most fresh milk). Possibly worth a shot...
posted by ClaireBear at 4:19 PM on August 21

LActose free milk is slightly sweeter but otherwise does not have a strange/different taste, and lasts apparently 2x longer than regular milk.

Otherwise, yeah, just get pints/school lunch sized milk by the case (12 pack?) and keep them in the freezer til you need them.
posted by elizardbits at 4:19 PM on August 21

Oh god or those toothpaste tubes of condensed milk, they are glorious and perfect if you can handle the PURE CONCENTRATED AWESOME. beware of making condensed milk sammiches at 3am tho, that is always a bad idea
posted by elizardbits at 4:21 PM on August 21 [13 favorites]

A little pint of heavy cream will last weeks and weeks -- even months, usually it's fine way past the expiration date. Also, it's yummy.
posted by fritley at 4:21 PM on August 21

I know that the official line these days is that almond milk is the devil, but I buy it partly because it lasts forever and I use it up before it goes bad. I don't care for lactose-free milk, which has a weird, sweet taste, but I find almond milk fine in coffee.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:21 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

Those single shelf-stable cups are nice. Also, organic milk in general has a longer shelf life - the "down"side is that it's because of ultra-high temperature pasteurization, but you're using it in coffee that's probably fine, taste-wise!

I way prefer organic milk, in coffee and all other things.
posted by destructive cactus at 4:22 PM on August 21

I have solved this exact problem with evaporated milk. I buy in bulk from Costco. Heavy cream will also work!
posted by skye.dancer at 4:23 PM on August 21

1) Milk, as mentioned, freezes fine. Do batches in ice cube trays, because one cube is probably as much as you're going to use in your coffee. Bonus: will cool down your coffee.

2) If you take sugar in your coffee, sweetened condensed milk = Vietnamese coffee = HEAVEN IN MUG.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:27 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]

If you have access to a Costco or order from Amazon you can buy Mini-Moos by the case there; they are actual dairy half and half and the expiration date is usually at least six months away. They're shelf-stable and ultrapasteurized. I also reject powdered milk or non-dairy creamer, because ick, but these are fine if you aren't set on having milk instead of something a little creamier.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:39 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Why not buy the little single-serving containers (like the ones packaged for kids)?
posted by radioamy at 4:39 PM on August 21

I buy those Milk Chug pints for the same reason (they have them at CVS and the grocery store). I don't think it actually saves me any money but I'm at least wasting less milk.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:40 PM on August 21

And then, there are always Mini Moos.

If all you need is a little milk for your coffee, this is what you want.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:44 PM on August 21

I haven't ever seen toothpaste-style tubes of condensed milk but all my grocery stores (Vons and the international markets) have La Lechera squeeze bottles in the Hispanic section. It looks like this.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:52 PM on August 21

Organic milk will last three weeks or longer.
posted by tamitang at 5:18 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Trader Joes sells shelf stable heavy cream if you want to combine solutions (one carton should last at least two weekends).

Options for using up milk: start eating cereal or granola with milk in the morning; develop a ricotta making habit.
posted by yarrow at 5:19 PM on August 21

As mentioned above, refrigerator temperature makes a big difference. Once I rented a place where the fridge door opened the "wrong" (most inconvenient) direction so I re-installed it to open correctly. I must have screwed up the alignment and sealing because it never again was cold enough to keep milk a week, even though it could do that fine before. Felt sorry for subsequent tenants.

And another +1 on organic milk keeping better.
posted by exogenous at 5:43 PM on August 21

I buy lactose-free milk for precisely this reason.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:59 PM on August 21

A couple points of clarification:

It's not fridge temp. I'm referring to the sell-by date on the milk. I buy milk. I don't drink it. It expires. The milk isn't going bad faster than usual, it's just not possible for me to use it all before the sell-by date (or even within a couple days of it, for those of you who are THATS SELL BY NOT USE BY!!!! sticklers).

Also, because I literally only have one or two waking hours at home per weekday, "just use it up" isn't really an option. It occurred to me to set some kind of reminder to drink a glass of milk every night before bed, but to be honest I don't always want a glass of milk before bed, and that just feels like another tedious chore. There's got to be a way to do this that doesn't constantly ping my guilt/chore/not-good-enough muscle.
posted by Sara C. at 6:10 PM on August 21

+1 Organic Milk. Only organic product I consistently buy. Generally lasts at least 2 months.
posted by matkline at 6:21 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Would those little little single serving bottles of milk at the convenience store help? Just be aware of the expiration dates.
posted by BoscosMom at 6:35 PM on August 21

In practice I've bought the little milk jug milks.

In theory I really wish I had a micro cow. I would milk its tiny udders every morning and keep it on a generous patch of grass on my desk.
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:43 PM on August 21 [10 favorites]

I'm in this exact situation. I buy organic half-and-half. It's sold by the pint, so there's less of it. Its sell-by date is further in the future, so you've got more time to use it up. If you prefer the milk consistency, you can thin it down with a little water after you add it to your coffee.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 6:44 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

I buy milk. I don't drink it.

These two things are incompatible. Change one of them.

Also, because I literally only have one or two waking hours at home per weekday, "just use it up" isn't really an option.

I think you might be slightly overestimating the time it takes to drink a glass of milk.

Maybe buy some Quik or something?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:56 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

I've found that organic milk lasts so much longer (2 weeks after opening, and it has an expiration date of months in advance usually!), that it is absolutely worth spending the extra money on organic milk as opposed to buying twice as much non-organic milk and having it go bad.
posted by at 7:57 PM on August 21

In your position I would buy the Horizon Organic milk boxes that are packaged for single serving (the vanilla flavor is really good!). I would expect each box to cover you for a weekend, depending on how many cups of coffee you drink. Only catch would be if it has to be whole milk, because they only seem to make low-fat. The Horizon website says "milk boxes can safely live in the pantry until you're ready to chill and enjoy!"

Only other thought would be, do you have any neighbor or co-worker who you could have a little milk co-op with? There are a lot of people out there who go through dairy like there's no tomorrow who would likely fill a small container of milk for you periodically from what they buy, you could exchange them something that you have that they want (do you grow anything you could share with them, maybe?) or straight up money. Between my serious milk habit and one 18 month old, we put away a gallon of milk every 2 days in my household - a half gallon whole and a half gallon skim. So about 2.5 gallons per week, perhaps. If I saw you weekly, I'd gladly give you a cup of milk every week, it'd be the proverbial drop in the bucket.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:31 PM on August 21

I get my milk from an actual milkman. Like you, I only use milk for my coffee, and generally only on weekends. One quart of milk that came from a cow the day before it goes into my fridge easily lasts two weeks without spoiling.
posted by Ruki at 8:48 PM on August 21

Dude! I feel you.

Milk boxes, or small, convenience store bottles of milk. Stupid, I know, but those little ones they sell at 7-11 are cheaper than buying a bunch pints that you won't finish.

Or just be a super-organized, DIY hero and freeze your milk. A tip of that hat to those that do!

(My fridge is full of wilted salad greens)
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:55 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

Switch to Bailey's instead of milk.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:24 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]

I haven't ever seen toothpaste-style tubes of condensed milk but all my grocery stores (Vons and the international markets) have La Lechera squeeze bottles in the Hispanic section. It looks like this.

For reference: the tubes look like this. They also do low-cal and dulce de leche versions, BTW. Leche condensada is a staple in Spain, and if you ever come and want to have a coffee with leche condensada at a bar, you only have to ask for a café bombón.
posted by sukeban at 11:16 PM on August 21

Another vote for organic milk. Like you, I only use milk for putting in coffee. I only drink a couple of cups in the morning, so my milk use is really low, and I don't think I've had a quart go bad before I can finish it.

(Although I should admit I don't really pay attention to sell-by dates, so it's entirely possible I've been using milk that tastes fine but would set off your personal "date-on-the-carton" alarms.)
posted by soundguy99 at 11:48 PM on August 21

If you buy single serving milk at a convenience store, they are usually 12 oz. But you can get an 8 oz container of milk at McDonalds. Just swing thru a drive-thru on your way home Friday night.
posted by marsha56 at 12:04 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]

Seconding almond milk. But! Not all brands are equal in this case - some separate in coffee. I've had good luck with Silk brand, not as much with Blue Diamond. Finding the unsweetened of either can be a challenge sometimes, though.
posted by solotoro at 2:01 AM on August 22

I use heavy cream in my coffee. Delicious, you only need a tiny splash, and it lasts over a month!
posted by dobi at 4:23 AM on August 22

Do you have any neighbors that will accept an open quart of milk with a few tablespoons removed? If so, you can buy a quart of milk, use what you will over the weekend, and then give the rest to that neighbor.
posted by crLLC at 6:59 AM on August 22

+1000 on organic milk. I have more or less the same use case as you do (except it's 1 or 2 lattes every weekend vs. milk in brewed coffee daily) and I buy it by the HALF GALLON and never waste it. The Organic Valley brand lasts me like 2 months.
posted by dynamiiiite at 8:25 AM on August 22

In my experience, non-fat milk (I get mine from Trader Joes) lasts much longer than the alternatives. (The younger Rash would never drink skim milk, but that policy has changed, over time.) I find non-fat milk to be good usually over a week past the date on the carton, maybe two.

Note: Don't reject the milk if it smells sour, when you stick your nose into the carton -- pour some out and test it by drinking. You might be surprised to discover that sweet milk can live in a sour-smelling carton for a few days.
posted by Rash at 9:23 AM on August 22

Just buy your milk on Friday nights. It's good for the weekend and if you don't use it after that, c'est la vie. Next Friday morning, check to see if it's still good; if not toss it and get another one for that weekend. Even throwing away most of it, you're still running cheaper than specialty coffees at Starbucks.
posted by CathyG at 11:21 AM on August 22

Mini Moos. I buy them at Fred Meyer. I also have Horizon shelf stable single-serve milk cartons.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:14 PM on August 23

I'm poised and ready to either A) switch to almond milk or B) start freezing regular cow milk. Now I just need to find the time to grocery shop. (Which is another factor in my coffee workflow, and another reason "just like use up your milk or whatever" isn't workable.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 PM on August 25

After a few weeks of experimentation, I have results:

I tried freezing cow's milk, but it presented a few problems. Firstly, an ice tray uses far less liquid than one would think, so I was still buying milk and then having to figure out what to do with the same amount as before. Also, it turns out that it's really really difficult to get milk ice cubes out of an ice tray. Especially at five in the morning, before one has had coffee. And beyond that, I'm drinking coffee with my hard-won milk ice cubes in right now, and as it thaws, the milk is all separated and gross.

However, in the meantime I found a much better solution: cold brew iced coffee concentrate! I prefer to dilute it with milk rather than water, which uses about a pint of milk every time I fill up my tall iced coffee glass. This way, I can buy a quart of milk at any point during the week, open it Saturday morning, have iced coffee twice, and use basically all of the milk.

So, for future generations with a milk wasting problem: DRINK ICED COFFEE.
posted by Sara C. at 9:03 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]

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