One way to save money is to make your own food from scratch. Yes, this always takes time, and planning. But in the end it’s worth it because not only do you save money, but you usually end up eating healthier.
Yogurt is a very healthy food; it’s especially good for your digestive health, and what’s good for your gut usually means it is also good for your overall health, including your immune system and even your cognitive function. Yogurt has live active cultures that provide beneficial bacteria to your digestive tract. It’s also a very versatile food that can be eaten plain, used in parfaits, smoothies, and even Greek salads.
However, ounce for ounce, yogurt can be expensive, especially if you get the thick, Greek-style yogurt.
But if you have a candy/jelly thermometer and milk, you can make yogurt pretty easily. DIY yogurt can be made with any type of milk, even powder milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc. You will need some “starter” culture; just a bit of regular yogurt will work fine.
There are a few recipes out there for making your own healthy yogurt. Please note that some use a special yogurt-making machine, which you do not need, of course. The recipe I now use originally used a slow-cooker, but I have since modified it to save even more money!
Here’s how I make yogurt. I usually do it I the evening after the kids are in bed so I am not distracted, since it requires tending to.
What you need:
Milk- any kind and the amount can vary according to how much you want. I usually make at least ½ gallon at a time, usually more
Candy Thermometer- temperature is very important
Yogurt culture (basically, 2 tablespoons of regular yogurt, no need to go out and buy anything special), room temperature is better
Large pot with lid
Sink with enough ice to cool off milk
Ice chest- the pot has to fit in this, surrounded by towels
1. Put your desired amount of milk in the pot and slowly bring to 175 degrees. You should stir it to make sure the bottom doesn’t scald. This may take a while, but if you rush it by using high heat then you risk scalding the bottom. If it does scald a bit, try not to scrape that scalded milk from the bottom into the rest of the pot.
2. Once it reaches 175 degrees (some recipes allow for up to 180 degrees), then cover the pot and put it into the sink that has the ice. I cover it because then I add water to that sink so that the cold water surrounds the pot to help it cool down. The goal is to cool the milk down to 110 degrees. This entire step can be skipped, but you will have to wait until the milk cools down by itself, which can take a while.
3. Once the milk reaches 110 degrees, gently stir in the 2 tablespoons of your “starter” yogurt.
4. Then cover the pot again. Put the pot into the ice chest and cover as best you can with towels. Close the ice chest. And that is all. In 8-12 hours you will have a big pot of homemade yoghurt. It may be more runny that store-bought. If that bothers you, you can drain it or scoop the whey from the top. * Here is where I modified the recipe, which originally called for using a warmed slow-cooker, now turned off, and then covering with towels. With my modifications, only one pot is dirtied and no extra electricity is used in heating the slow cooker.
5. Now you can refrigerate it and be proud of your homemade yoghurt. Just like store-bought yogurt, it should be eaten within a week or two after making it. Ours never lasts for more than a week, so I have no experience with it going bad. Any fruits or flavorings can be added as well. If you made a large pot, you can separate some and freeze it.
6. Remember to save 2 tablespoons for your next batch!
Note- The milk must reach 175 degrees; that temp. will prevent any bad bacteria from contaminating your batch. It also must reach 110 degrees so that the cultures from your live yoghurt will live and grow.
And there you have it. Your own fresh yogurt for a lot less than any commercial kind. If a gallon of milk costs $3.85 (on sale, of course), then you can potentially have a gallon of yogurt for about that price. It does take time, but getting home-made health food as a result makes it totally worth it!