I found out I was dairy intolerant 10 years ago, and I’m not lying when I say that I spent one full year grieving the loss of the foods I loved like milk, ice cream, cheese, cheesecake. . .I could go on and on. If you’re dairy intolerant, you know what I’m talking about. However, with time and experience, you can find new foods and many ways to save money on your new culinary lifestyle.
Saving When Dairy Intolerant
If you try to buy substitutes for all of your favorite dairy items, you could easily double your grocery budget. Instead, try these tips to save money when you’re dairy intolerant:
Eat Naturally Dairy Free Foods
The easiest way to save money when you’re dairy intolerant is to eat naturally dairy free foods. Stir fries make excellent meals that don’t cost any more because there is nothing to substitute.
Likewise, all vegan items are naturally dairy free.
And any Paleo diet recipes are also dairy free.
Find Homemade Substitutes
With creativity, you can find homemade, inexpensive substitutes for some of your favorite foods. For instance, we make our own, homemade chicken stock in the slow cooker. When I cook mashed potatoes, instead of boiling them and then mashing them with milk and butter, I boil them in chicken broth. Then, I drain off and reserve the broth and add it back in as I mash the potatoes.
When making treats like brownies, I always substitute olive oil for the butter. Dairy free butter just doesn’t give the same taste to baked goods that real butter does, and using dairy free butter as a substitute is expensive.
Don’t Expect Foods To Taste Like They Do With Dairy
When you first go off dairy, you will be disappointed if you expect the foods you make with substitutes to taste like authentic dishes with dairy do. The mashed potatoes I mentioned above? Everyone in our family loves them, but they do not taste like mashed potatoes made with milk and butter. They’re good, but different.
As soon as you can lose the expectation that food will taste exactly the way it does with dairy, the faster you can adjust to a dairy-free lifestyle.
Shop the Sales
If you have a dairy replacement food you do enjoy, try not to buy it at full price. For instance, my kids do like Daiya shreds as a cheese replacement. However, an 8-ounce bag can cost between $4.99 or $5.99. I never buy it at that price. Instead, I wait for sales when the price drops to $3.14 to $3.99. When I see a rock bottom price, I stock up. Just recently, Whole Foods had Daiya shreds on sale for $3.14 a bag, and I bought 15 bags. I just freeze them and take them out as needed.
To help stretch the savings, we eat much less Daiya shreds on dishes like tacos than we used to use traditional cheese. I find a little goes a long way.
If you have a Costco near you, consider joining. They have many dairy free foods at a cheaper price. For instance, you can buy a case of almond milk at a much lower price than you can at the grocery store. The same is true for other substitutes like coconut oil, rice milk, and goat cheese (if you’re able to eat it).
If you’ve been diagnosed as dairy intolerant, feel free to give yourself time to mourn. But then, get busy finding inexpensive ways to enjoy foods without dairy. You will adapt to this lifestyle and learn all the tricks so you hardly miss dairy at all.
My Question for You
Are you dairy intolerant? If so, what suggestions would you add to this list? What is your best tip for saving money when living dairy free?