Storage Tips

The Unexpected Place My Mom Kept the Milk

May 17, 2018

Grocery shopping with my mom always felt like a game. First, there was the hunt for a perfect parking spot. Next, the best cart. Then, as we weaved through the aisles, we’d keep our eyes peeled for the best bargains, a chance to outsmart the store and stock our pantry.

My mom wasn’t a couponer—this was before Extreme Couponing tranced the nation—but she hated the idea of wasting money. Each quarter, she kept an eye out for the sales grocers rotated from item to item, loading up the cart when she saw a discount.

Some items lent themselves to storage: paper towels, canned goods, cereals, ice cream. But others, like fresh vegetables, eggs, and milk, required some creativity.

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My mom first heard about storing milk in the freezer from her sister. My aunt has nine children and they drank gallons like they were fish. To save herself several grocery runs a week, my aunt froze her stockpile.

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Top Comment:
“Here in Kona only 1 of the 6 grocery stores ever has fresh cider and then only for a short time in December. We have only one store that sometimes has buttermilk so when they put it on sale (days after the best by date, ha!) I stock up. Freezer is also stocked with whole peeled ginger root for quick grating, lemon and orange zests and cooked rice which are all tricks I learned from locals. Got to make room ASAP for mango chunks for bread and purée for gazpacho...can’t eat them fast enough. Peak season is only a few months long, the fresh ones at Costco hail from Mexico and are a poor substitute for our loco-licious backdoor mangoes. And because of the heat, all nuts/whole grains frozen. Dried dill and mint turn to dust here if kept in a cabinet so into the freezer they go too. ”
— NancyFromKona
Comment

Yep, milk is freezer-friendly! When frozen, it’ll keep from 3 to 6 months (any longer and it’ll start to absorb the other flavors in your freezer). And thawed milk is just as safe and nutritious to drink as fresh milk. It can separate while chilling, so just stir or shake it after thawing in the refrigerator.

Another thing to keep in mind: Like most liquids, milk expands when frozen. To prevent bursting, make sure you have enough headspace in your container, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.

While our family of four didn’t fly through milk like my aunt's, my mom thought freezing the gallons she got on sale was a smart idea to game the grocery store. Mom: 1. Supermarket: 0.


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What's a staple ingredient you freeze? Beans? Bread? Let us know in the comments below!

16 Comments

anna O. May 19, 2018
I freeze everything, leftovers, bread, rice, beans, meat, ginger, fruit... I love the convenience and can't deal with the hassle of canning. I also like to buy in bulk if there is a great sale.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. May 20, 2018
Oh cool! We were just talking about freezing fruit at the office! What's your favorite to freeze?
 
Ali W. May 20, 2018
My partner and I have protein shakes most mornings (just to get out the door!) I buy bananas, apples, berries (just about anything) chop them up and freeze them. Using frozen fruit pieces means I don't have to add ice to get a yummy frozen smoothie.
 
Smaug May 18, 2018
My neighbors froze milk in the cardboard cartons for years without trouble- they seem to be flexible enough to handle the expansion. Never felt the necessity myself, but I do buy butter on sale and freeze it; the price difference is huge, and if you bake it's always reassuring to have a backup supply.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. May 20, 2018
Definitely do this with my butter, too! It makes me feel so prepared haha
 
Ali W. May 20, 2018
As with my fruit, I chop butter into tablespoon-sized pieces before freezing -- makes things so easy!
 
NancyFromKona May 18, 2018
I freeze cider and buttermilk. Here in Kona only 1 of the 6 grocery stores ever has fresh cider and then only for a short time in December. We have only one store that sometimes has buttermilk so when they put it on sale (days after the best by date, ha!) I stock up. Freezer is also stocked with whole peeled ginger root for quick grating, lemon and orange zests and cooked rice which are all tricks I learned from locals. Got to make room ASAP for mango chunks for bread and purée for gazpacho...can’t eat them fast enough. Peak season is only a few months long, the fresh ones at Costco hail from Mexico and are a poor substitute for our loco-licious backdoor mangoes. And because of the heat, all nuts/whole grains frozen. Dried dill and mint turn to dust here if kept in a cabinet so into the freezer they go too.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. May 18, 2018
That's so smart to freeze cider—I hadn't thought of that before!
 
BerryBaby May 18, 2018
We freeze cider in the fall. The orchard closes end of October and their cider is the best! If I don’t freeze it we have to wait until the following September!
 
Matt H. May 17, 2018
Am I missing something? If you need to buy multiple milk cartons cause you go through them during the week, putting them in the freezer isn't helping them not spoil. You'll still be drinking the milk within the freshness window.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. May 17, 2018
Well, I think for my aunt it was partially for preserving milk/partially for extra space haha but my mom definitely used the freezer to save money.
 
BerryBaby May 18, 2018
Ultra pasteurized milk is good almost a month out. Bought milk the other day and the date is June 15.<br />Mom froze milk when we were kids, it was fine.
 
BerryBaby May 17, 2018
Bread! We have two outlet bread stores that are tremendous money savers. <br />Seeded rye at grocery store $4.09, bread store $1.25 fresh (bakery is on the premises) same brand, fresh.<br />
 
Author Comment
Katie M. May 17, 2018
Woah! Such a price difference 💸💸💸
 
tia May 17, 2018
I freeze bread too, although not because I can get a better price that way. I can't finish a loaf before it goes bad, so I freeze it and pull slices out to thaw for maybe 10 minutes on the counter when I need them.
 
BerryBaby May 18, 2018
I know! It’s such a huge savings and fun trying new products. They test market different breads there too. Peach crunch was delicious!