Here's how to save money and choose healthier versions in the dairy section.
How to save on dairy products
- Keep an eagle eye out for specials; we found yoghurt 6-packs reduced from $6.00 to $2.80 in one supermarket.
- Check out the supermarket own brands and 'budget' brands; on basics like milk there can be significant price differences.
- Buy larger packs of things like yoghurt and sour cream and split them up yourself; this saves on packaging waste and works out cheaper, too.
- Buy strongly-flavoured cheese like parmesan and mix with low-fat cottage cheese for cheesy bakes and sauces. You'll use much less cheese so it saves money and is healthier.
- Don't pay for extra packaging and processing, like pre-sliced and packaged cheese. On the other hand, keep an eye on prices; we found pre-grated cheese was no more expensive than a block and you may end up using less, so it'll go further.
- Consider a yoghurt maker if your family uses a lot of yoghurt. Homemade yoghurt can be significantly cheaper than bought, and there's no plastic packaging to throw away.
- If you haven't already, now's the time to switch from butter to low-fat spread. You will save a significant amount off the grocery bill.
- When cheese is on special (which supermarkets are doing to attract shoppers) buy in bulk and pop it in the freezer.
- In recipes that have grated cheese as ingredient or topping, try reducing the amount by 1/3, then 1/2. Chances are you'll still get a cheesy taste, and no-one will notice the difference. It'll be healthier, too.
- Blue cheese can be a great way to introduce cheesy flavour without using much, and people who don't like it don't need to know. Try a little bit crumbled into a cheese sauce. We found 100g of blue vein on special for $2.50.
Smart ingredients to substitute and save
- Milk powder is worth experimenting with, especially in baking. You won't taste the difference and it works out cheaper than fresh milk: a 1kg package is about $10 and makes up 8 litres.
- Evaporated milk is a really handy ingredient. Use it instead of milk and cream in baking, sauces, pasta and creamy desserts (see the chocolate mousse on page 60 for a good example).
- Homemade plain yoghurt is a good, cheap substitute for sour cream in chillies, soups, curries, nachos and burritos.
- Cottage cheese, when used in bakes like scalloped potatoes or pasta bakes, takes on a stronger flavour. Whisk it with a fork until smooth, thin with a little milk, and try instead of grated cheese.
- Breadcrumbs and grated parmesan make a lovely alternative topping for pasta bakes and macaroni cheese, especially when you mix in some fresh herbs. Whiz together in a blender and sprinkle on before baking.