What To Make When Your Milk is About to Expire

The following is a guest post by Alea Milham from Premeditated Leftovers and One Determined Gardener.

I am usually very frugal, especially when it comes to groceries, but there is one item that I indulge in: minimally-processed, organic, whole milk. It is twice as expensive as regular milk, but I feel it is worth the price.

Because of the extra expense, I am careful not to let a single drop go to waste! However, sometimes life happens and I end up with more milk than we normally consume with our meals.

That is when I pay careful attention to the expiration date and start working milk into more of my recipes.


Pancakes are my first line of defense against food waste because they can be made quickly and they don’t have to be consumed immediately. A single batch uses 1 – 1 1/2 cups of milk depending on the recipe.

I can use up quite a bit of milk and make mornings easier by making a double batch and freezing the leftovers. Pancakes will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Check ou this Pumpkin Pancake Recipe.

Chocolate Pudding (Uses 3 cups of milk. Keeps for 3 days in the refrigerator)


  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar (I prefer my pudding less sweet and use 1/3)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Pinch of salt (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch. Use a fork or whisk and stir it until it is smooth and all of the lumps have been incorporated.
  2. Combine 2 1/2 cups of milk and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
  3. Cook over a low heat, whisking as necessary to prevent lumps from forming.
  4. When the mixture begins to thicken add the chocolate chips. Continue stirring until the chips are completely melted and the pudding is smooth and thickened.
  5. Pour pudding into one large or 6 individual bowls. To prevent a skin from forming, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 3 – 4 hours before serving.

**To make a thicker, pie-like filling, reduce milk to 2 1/2 cups.

Yogurt (Uses 4 cups of milk. Keeps for 2 – 3 weeks in the refrigerator.)

My husband is not a milk drinker, but he loves yogurt. I can get him to help us consume our milk, by making a batch of yogurt. He stirs in homemade jam to sweeten it and then sprinkles it with leftover bits of granola or cereal.


  • 4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon, unflavored gelatin (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh yogurt


  1. If you want a firm yogurt, add 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin in 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add gelatin mixture and remaining 3 cups of milk to a large sauce pan. Attach candy thermometer to the pan.
  3. Heat over medium flame until it reaches 185 – 190 degrees (You don’t want it to boil or form a skin – though I have accidentally done both and the yogurt still turned out. If a skin forms, just skim it off the top with a wooden spoon).
  4. Fill sink with a couple inches of cold water. Place pan in sink to rapidly cool milk to 115 – 120 degrees.
  5. Add yogurt to milk, using a whisk to completely blend it with the milk.
  6. Pour mixture into 4 – 8 oz. jars. Put lids on the jars. Place a heating pad on a counter or cutting board or some place where it will remain undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours.
  7. Put a towel over the heating pad and set the heating pad on medium heat. Place jars on the towel and then cover with a large pot to hold in heat.
  8. Let sit for 8 – 12 hours. The longer it sits, the more acidic the taste.
  9. Refrigerate the yogurt. I use yogurt in place of sour cream in recipes and dips. I add it to smoothies or mix it with pureed fruit and honey and freeze it to make “yogurt pops”.

If you don’t have a heating pad, you can try making Crock Pot Yogurt or Make Yogurt in an Ice-Chest.

If All Else Fails Freeze Your Excess Milk

Depending on how much milk I need to use up, I will look for dinner recipes that use milk like Scallop Potatoes (uses 2 1/2 cups of milk) or Pasta with Alfredo Sauce (uses 1 cup). However, if we are getting ready to go out of town and I don’t have time for any of the above ideas, I freeze my excess milk.

Freeze milk in quantities that you are most likely to use. Squeeze out as much of the air as you can and freeze it as flat if possible. Once it is frozen you can store the milk in the little nooks and crannies in your freezer.

Thaw frozen milk and use it as you normally would in your cooking and baking. I have actually used previously frozen milk in every recipe listed above.

How do you use up milk that is about to expire?

Alea Milham shares her tips for saving money and time while reducing waste in her home at Premeditated Leftovers. She is committed to providing her family with homegrown, organic produce despite living in an inhospitable climate. Alea chronicles her gardening efforts at One Determined Gardener.

By |2011-04-08T15:55:17-04:00April 8th, 2011|Frugal Living, Home and Garden, Organic and Green Living|31 Comments

About the Author:


  1. Lizz April 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Our milk doesnt ever make it to “use by” date! :p

  2. Lizz April 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I <3 the pudding idea tho! 🙂

  3. rsgal April 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Homemade rice pudding or tapioca pudding….mmmm. Custard. Homemade ice cream. Milkshakes.

  4. Kristine April 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    I freeze chocolate pudding in popsicle molds and make my own pudding pops – I’ll do this with yogurt too. The kids LOVE it 🙂

  5. Traci April 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Our youngest son drinks a gallon of milk a week by himself LOL

  6. Ruth April 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    My Mom always made hm pudding or custard!!

  7. Nichole April 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Love this!!! Is that yogurt you actually made in the first yogurt pic? Can you please tell me what you used for starter?


    • Alea Milham April 8, 2011 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      You don’t have to buy starter. For starter all you need is 2 Tablespoons of fresh, plain yogurt that contains live and active cultures. However, I have found that I can use yogurt that has been frozen ( I thaw it in the fridge) and the yogurt turns out just fine.

      • Nichole April 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm - Reply

        Thank you! I have always gotten a very “Ropey” yogurt from store bought yogurt. Is that what you used in this post?

        • Alea Milham April 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm - Reply

          Yes, I used organic, store bought yogurt as the starter. I really think it is the addition of the gelatin that gives it such a beautiful texture.

          • Nichole April 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm

            Ok! Great! Thank you so much! 🙂

          • Nichole April 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

            Oh! one more thing! We use raw farm fresh milk, have you ever used this technique with raw milk?

          • Alea Milham April 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

            The milk I use has been heated – not enough to be considered pasturized, but it is not raw.

            The National Center for Home Preservation recommends that you heat the milk in a double boiler to 165 degrees:

            I have friends who use raw milk and feel that since the milk is heated to 190 degrees that the milk should be safe for yogurt. I found the Nourished Cook’s insturction for making yogurt with raw milk: http://nourishedkitchen.com/raw-milk-yogurt/

            She only heats her milk to 110 degrees and notes that this does create a runnier yogurt.

  8. Crystal @ Counselor Mom April 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    That’s awesome. I didn’t even think about making home made yogurt. Never tried it before.

  9. Judy April 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you! My husband has to have dessert at night, and there are times that I just don’t have anything. The pudding idea is great! Can’t wait to try it out…and the yogurt, too!

  10. Nathan B April 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    I’ve had mixed results using milk that is about to expire for yogurt. Had a convenience store down the road that used to have a $2.99 a gallon guarantee on milk, but a lot of the times I’d find it only had a week or less before the ‘use by date’. Now I will preface it by saying that I was using a starter that my mom had bought, then gave to me (she loves the fresh plain yogurt and tries to be supportive), and she wasn’t sure how long she’d had it before she got it to me. So I’m not sure if it truly was the milk or the starter yogurt. But I’d made a handful of wonderful batches prior using milk from a grocery store (pretty fresh), and this batch using the older milk (and unknown quality starter) made in the same method as before turned out extremely bitter and very grainy, even when strained to make greek yogurt or yogurt cheese. Milk’s gone up quite a bit since then, so I haven’t really dabbled again, but if you can make it work for you good on you!

  11. melissa April 9, 2011 at 9:46 am - Reply

    THANK YOU! this has to be one of your most useful posts for me. I have to say the organic milk won’t make it to expiration here but my husbands less expensive milk can occasioanlally spoil on us and now I know what to do with it! And dispite the lesser expense of it, it still kills me o poor it down the drain, guh!

  12. Lani C April 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    My favorite cake recipe calls for spoiled milk! Almost wish my kids didn’t drink so much!

  13. Shannon April 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    I like to make lots of homemade bread.

  14. Elsa July 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    I love this post, especially the idea of freezing the milk. Thanks for the tips!!

    • Elsa July 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Oh yes, I almost forgot to say, when I want to use up milk I make ice cream or I bake bread with it. 🙂

  15. Pumpkin Dip | Premeditated Leftovers September 16, 2011 at 3:49 am - Reply

    […] 1/2 cup plain yogurt (homemade yogurt recipe) […]

  16. […] Chai Spiced Pudding, the only problem was that until tonight I had only made two types of pudding: chocolate and chocolate.  I was a little leery of just removing the chocolate from my recipes because I […]

  17. […] I am sharing some tips for using up milk that is about to expire at The Thrifty Mama. The Chocolate Pudding recipe that I shared calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips, […]

  18. Mocha Fudge Pudding Recipe January 24, 2013 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    […] I decided today would be a good time to try making mocha fudge pudding. I slightly modified my chocolate pudding recipe to create a pudding that has just a hint of coffee to […]

  19. a fantastic website February 12, 2013 at 10:42 am - Reply

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy I stumbled across this during my search for
    something relating to this.

  20. […] Chocolate Pudding […]

  21. Martin March 27, 2015 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    I like the pudding idea, but I make Mac and cheese. It takes 4-5 cups of milk. Chowder is another good plan.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.

%d bloggers like this: