Talkin' about milk! A couple of pieces of advice desired...

  1. I buy milk in half-gallon jugs for breakfast. Trouble is, I always end up with about a fifth of the jug left when it goes south, since I’m the only one who uses it. A smaller size would necessitate more trips to the store, and is more expensive. Can anyone think of a better way to avoid the waste without having to go out of my way to cook something with milk?

  2. I got home with such a jug as mentioned above, then had to use the bathroom as soon as I got in. As such, I promptly forgot about it, and left it out of the fridge. It’s at least/approximately 70 degrees right now in this apartment (dunno how much warmer it might’ve been before), and it was out for about seven hours before I remembered it. What should I do with it?

Thanks in advance!

Is there a reason you need to worry overmuch about throwing out 39cents worth of milk once a week? Is it really worth changing your habits over?

You can freeze milk. If I were using that small an amount on a daily basis, I’d buy a gallon and freeze it in quarts or cups.

You can buy ultra-pasteurized milk, and that will get you a few extra days. Ultra-pasteurized milk that’s then irradiated to be shelf stable will get you another day or two beyond that. Making sure you return the milk to the fridge promptly after pouring it will help. Of course you’d never drink straight from the jug or pour leftover milk back in, right?

Milk left out…well, that’s one for the food police to argue about. They say anything - milk, meat, anything - left out for more than 2 hours should be thrown away for food safety reasons. But I can tell you that there is so little bacteria in modern commercial milk that our microbiology teacher had to add e.coli from test tubes so we could do the classic micro class experiment culturing bacteria from milk and comparing levels. There just wasn’t enough bacteria in the stuff from the store to grow on our little Petri dishes. So I’d put it in the fridge and give it the sniff test and expect it to go bad a bit sooner than normal.

Buy a gallon at a time and freeze most of it? Milk freezes and thaws fine.

Unless you have some kind of special medical issue like immune deficiency just taste the milk, if it tastes fine drink it. It is unopened pasteurized milk, its fine.

As soon as you gets home, drink a tall glass of cold milk. Then, by the time you get done using your normal amount of milk, the part that would have gone sour will have already been drunk.

I use soy milk 99% of the time. It has an insanely long lifespan.

I drink iced coffee, with milk. I know exactly how much milk to add to the pot, so I freeze that amount in baggies. As soon as the coffee’s made and cooled, I add a bag of milk. No waste.

It might help to buy two quart containers. Once you open the container and pour some milk out it gets exposed to bacteria and has more surface area in contact with the air. Put the unopened container in the back of the fridge where it will stay colder and may last long enough to use the rest before it goes back. I assume it will cost you a few cents more for the initial purchase, but if you use it all it should save money in the end. If it doesn’t last long enough, then buy 1 quart and 1 pint and you should have nothing to throw away.

Buy organic milk. It’s ultra-pasteurized so it lasts a lot longer, plus it tastes much better and is hormone free.

I don’t know about where you buy milk but here the difference between a 1l container, a 2l container and a 4l container does not seem to relate at all to their sizes. If you are going to use even a drop over 1l it’s much more cost efficient to buy 2l and throw out what goes bad.

Milk does freeze very well however, our usage fluctuates depending on who is home, who is visiting, who is on a cereal kick etc so I tend to always have extra milk in the freezer to save me from the dreaded emergency run to the grocery store (go to buy milk spend $50 on other stuff every single time).

One advantage to living in Canada and our weird milk bags is that they both freeze and defrost easily.

This is pretty much what I do, though it’s worth noting that not ALL organic milk is ultra-pasteurized.

Also ultra-pasteurizing gets you a lot more than a “few more days” as WhyNot suggests above - it’s usually more like “two more weeks”.

I have to admit I’m like a sheltered politician, I’m not up on current milk prices. Usually I only buy cream. I see the advertised sale prices for a gallon of milk are usually $3.99 a gallon around here, but I’m not aware of the prices of the smaller sizes. My recollection is that a half gallon only costs a little more than 50% of the price of a gallon, but that may not apply to smaller sizes, or even that one since I haven’t taken notice for a long time. In my family it’s always about choosing the smallest container necessary, most of it will go bad anyway.

I assumed all organic was ultra-pasteurized because every organic brand that’s available here is. Certainly check the dates on your milk before buying. I routinely see Sell By dates on organic milk that aren’t days away, but weeks. Organic costs a bit more, but since I started buying it several years ago I haven’t had to throw out any unused. That plus the better taste (to me) is worth the extra cost. It’s one product where organic is a clearly superior choice, to me.

Does not compute.

Also, not all organic milk is ultra pastuerized, though all of the major brands are.

OP, try storing your milk at slighty lower temperatures. Are you currently keeping it well below 40? If not, it will degrade quicker.

As for the milk left out that long, yeah, throw that stuff away. It’s not too likely to make you sick, but it’s probably going to taste pretty awful. If it had only been an hour or two it’d probably be okay, but seven? Nah, chuck it.

We had the same issue, only used milk for cereal, always had too much left over, ran out of things to use frozen milk for; so we switched to powdered milk. I make up a half gallon in the evening, let it sit in the fridge overnight and it tastes like regular milk when I have it in my cereal. If you have a sanitized gallon jar (like a canning jar) that’s best for storing it in the fridge. Powdered milk is far cheaper, lasts longer; we keep ours in the fridge but you can keep it in the freezer if you like. If you’re lucky enough to find it in packets, those are shelf stable.

I have the same problem with milk at my house. Unless I’m on a milkshake or cereal binge, the last few ounces go sour before I get around to using them.

Good inventory control in the food industry encourages product rotation so that customers (or servers) will tend to grab the older stuff first. The stuff that slides down the shelf channels to the front of the rack by the glass door is usually oldest. Therefore I tend to make a point of pulling a carton from the middle of the shelf rather than the front. Often I’ll see the expiration dates on those jugs is a few days later than the dates on the jugs in the front row.

Also, the milk one nearby store is packaged in cardboard boxes and the milk at another store I frequent comes in plastic bottles. On those rare days that I’ve gone to both stores during the same shopping trip, I’ve noticed that the stuff in the cardboard boxes consistently has expiration dates that are several days farther in the future. I guess the bacteria in milk thrive better with light coming through the container wall? Unfortunately, I rarely need anything (else) that is unique to the store with the cardboard-packaged milk, so I tend to just do my best with the plastic jugs (see paragraph above).


Pennies add up.
–Ancient adage, translated from Japanese

That could just mean the store with the cardboard cartons sells more milk, so it spends less time on the shelf before sale.

You can also buy Lactaid (lactose free milk) which last much longer as well.

Have a glass of milk with dinner every once in a while. You know what goes best with pizza?


Seriously. Pizza + milk > pizza + beer.

Yeah, I know it shouldn’t be that way, but in my opinion, organic milk tastes “milkier” than conventional. I tried it several years ago when my boss kept insisting that it was so and I needed to try it. To shut him up, I did, and haven’t bought conventional milk since. I buy all of my dairy products organic now. I didn’t realize until after the first couple of times I bought orgo milk that I wasn’t tossing out a good portion of my purchase anymore and realized the expiration dates were so much longer.

I’ve also tried unpasteurized raw organic milk straight from a dairy. It was amazingly delicious, but even though I tried to drink it quickly, it was on it’s way to going bad at 4 days. If I had a close by local source (and it’s not even legal in NC) I would buy raw milk in smaller quantities. I can’t afford to have it shipped in from PA once a month (and it wouldn’t last me hardly any time at all).

I, too, was going to recommend the organic milk. It expires in about a month, as opposed to a week or so for regular milk. It costs about twice as much, so if the cost is not and only the expiration is the factor, organic would be a good choice.