Spending Time to Save Money: 3 Recipes for Dry Milk Solids

The senior citizens in the subsidized apartment building where I work get boxes of free food from the  government once a month. Yesterday one of the residents stopped in my office and offered me his bag of powdered milk.

"No thanks," I said quickly because I'm not a fan of reconstituted powdered milk. But then I remembered a recipe that I had found recently that called for dry milk solids. "Well, okay. On second thought I'll take it."

The thing is, we are tightening our budget. Snacks, along with breakfast foods and beverages, are feeling the pinch. I have a love / hate relationship with snacks. I love to snack / I hate to spend the money for snacks. I love to make snacks / I hate that it takes time to make snacks. I love the idea of my kids snacking on fruit and vegetables / I hate throwing away fruits and vegetables that get old before they get eaten.

"You either spend time to save money, or you spend money to save time." I read that somewhere a long time ago and it stuck with me until I got too busy to remember it. Back then I had lots of time, so I made lots of stuff and saved some money. Over the years as our time got crunched, convenience foods snuck into our grocery cart.

So I was searching my cookbooks the other day for recipes of snacks that I could make - and when I don't have time, my kids could make. In addition to old fashioned popcorn that is not made in the microwave, I found this one:

Honey Milk Balls 
1 cup dried milk solids
1 cup rolled oats, uncooked
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter

Mix together, first with a spoon, then knead by hand. Roll into bite size balls.

- roll in coconut
- shape balls around a nut
- mold dough into a roll and slice

The verdict on these in our house: they're good, make them again. John says you can't eat too many at one time, though. Which I'd say is probably a good thing.

Now that I have a bag of dry milk solids, what else can I make? Right away I thought of my favorite granola recipe. The thing that I love about this recipe is that I can use whatever I have on hand. And now I have some dry milk solids on hand.

Anne's Favorite Granola Recipe

Preheat oven to 300*

Combine 7 cups any combination of dry ingredients as desired, including:
- at least 2 cups rolled oats
- dry milk solids
- wheat germ
- wheat bran
- whole wheat flour
- corn meal
- uncooked cereals
- seeds
- coconut
- nuts
- spices

In a separate bowl,
combine 1 cup of liquids, in any combination of the following, as desired:
- honey
- peanut butter
- oil
- syrup

Pour liquids over dry ingredients and mix well.
Spread into large greased pans and back for 30-60 minutes, stirring often.
Be careful not to let it get too brown.
Crunchiness will depend on combination of ingredients.
Let cool.

When cooled, add as desired:
- raisins
- dates
- dried fruits
- chocolate chips

I read on a quick Google search that you can add dry milk solids to just about any recipe and you'll get the added nutritional benefit. I checked the bag of Mountain Maid instant nonfat dry milk that my tenant didn't want and found that it is high in vitamins A and D as well as calcium. That can't be bad. I might have to sneak some dry milk solids into my chocolate chip cookies.

Right next to the nutrition information was a recipe for hot chocolate mix. How about that? Just in time too, because the Minnesota weather is starting to cool down. As much as we try to deny it, come September it's just a matter of time before the snow flies. Hot chocolate mixes aren't cheap, but they are convenient. Guess what recipe I'm going to be spending some time instead of money to make this winter.

Mountain Maid's Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe

2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.
To make a cup of hot chocolate, mix 1/4 cup dry mix with 1 cup boiling water.
Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or cinnamon.
Makes approximately 14 cups.

Spending time to save money. As a working mom with a family full of busy schedules that's a challenge for me. It will take some discipline and some creativity to cut the grocery bill. And, I guess, some dry milk solids.

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