I got out my old calculator the other day and figured out that we spend (theoretically) $400+ a year on yogurt – alone. ALONE. That’s a ton of yogurt, but we eat it almost every day in our wicked-healthy-morning-smoothies and there is no way I am giving those up so I decided to crunch some numbers and see what it would cost to make my own yogurt each week.
I am not normally a person who likes to do math, in fact, I will go great distances to *avoid* having anything to do with numbers, but I am a sucker for saving a penny. I admit it – I love to save money. Not like, saving as in not spending it in the first place, but saving as in spending a *little* when you could have spent *a lot*. Beating the system.
Buying in bulk delights my soul, and my own mother can attest to the fact that shopping at the damaged discount food store gives me giddy goosebumps (and she might be the only person on earth who understands why). You would think I had a been set free with unlimited credit in an upscale fashion boutique. It’s almost embarrassing – but any hesitation I might have (were I a more normal person) disappears the moment I find a slightly dented box of organic, free-range chicken broth for $.99 when I know For A Fact that the same product, undented, would cost $5. It’s all thrills and chills from there on out, my friends. No shame – only Gain.
So – knowing that about me, of course you believe that I actually sat down and figured out what it would cost me to make my own yogurt. Sometimes making things yourself is not always the cheapest way out – sometimes it is the best way in terms of *value*, but it doesn’t always cost *less*. Well, I have good news, very good news. Not only is it cheaper to make my own yogurt (saving us a whopping $250+ per annum) but I can make it fresher and simpler and I dare say Better than the store brand.
Isn’t it wonderful when you actually get rewarded for doing the right thing? Like deciding to make your own organic yogurt and being able to save a couple hundred bucks a year? It’s stinking Awesome – and that’s why I am writing this.
First – the recipe. It’s actually many recipes modge-podged together until I liked it and so far it’s worked pretty well. There’s no telling the difference between my yogurt and the expensive store brand. (So there.)
2 quarts of whole milk; it can be pasteurized, but skip the “ultra-pasteurized” stuff (I know, I know – “BUT THE FAT!!!” I’m sorry, but milk fat makes good yogurt and happy people and if you scratch under the surface of all those fat labels you will find that there really isn’t that much of a difference between whole milk and 2%… go ahead and get the whole, you’ll thank me.)
1 package (1 Tablespoon) of plain, unflavored gelatin, available in the jello section of your local grocery hang-out (this is to give the yogurt more of a ‘store-bought’ texture, and to add a little protein and gelatin to the finished yogurt, both of which are really good for you.)
6-8 Tablespoons already made plain yogurt (this can be purchased at the store or saved from the last batch you made…)
A 3-4 quart pot for heating the milk
2 sterile (or really, really clean) glass quart containers with lids
a wooden spoon
a funnel (optional, but really handy!)
a candy or cheese thermometer
a small cooler or ice chest for incubating (I have an old two-person picnic cooler…)
Alrighty then. First off, dump the milk into your pot and then sprinkle the package of gelatin over the surface of the milk. Turn on the burner to medium to gently start to heat the milk. Stir the milk so that the gelatin dissolves and the milk doesn’t begin to scorch on the bottom. The milk has to reach between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so while you are waiting (in between stirrings…) distribute the yogurt starter between the two jars. When the milk has reached temperature, gently fill the two jars – this is where the funnel comes in handy! Now stir with your wooden spoon so that everything is mixed well and comfy-like. Cap those bad boys and set them in your small cooler.
I’ve read lots of ways to do this part and have honestly only ever done one of them, but it works for me so I haven’t had any inkling to mess with it. I welcome your input and experiences – if something works even better, by all means – share it with the class!
I run hot tap water (about 110 degrees) and fill the cooler so that the jars are in a nice bath up to their shoulders. Then I put the cover on, wait 8 hours and pull them out. Into the fridge they go to set and in the morning we have fresh yogurt for breakfast. Yum.
The gelatin really makes the creamiest consistency which is even better if you wait a whole day, but we haven’t been able to wait to dip into that first jar.
And now for the numbers:
I was purchasing 2 quarts of brand-name organic yogurt a week from the store.
2 quarts= $8.00 a week x 52 weeks = $416.00 a year
Now, here are the figures for the homemade, bear with me now…
I had all of the equipment, which was a bonus
1 gallon of organic milk = $4.00 = $1.00 per quart
1 box plain gelatin (four packets) = $2.20 = $.55 per pack (roughly)
1 container start up yogurt (enough to start 6 quarts of yogurt) = $2.20 = $.40 per quart
So that is an $8.40 start up cost, but I don’t have to buy the gelatin or the starter yogurt every time…
Every quart of homemade yogurt costs me $1.58 to produce. I guess if you want to get hardcore about it (and don’t we all) you could count electricity for the stove and time and the hot water, bringing it up to a generous $2.00 a quart, which is *still* half of what I was paying.
((***It’s still worth it.***))
I know I absolutely geeked-out on this one, but I was too excited not to share.
Do you have some nerdy heart-throb of a money-saving habit you would like to share? Please do…