Honestly, I rarely buy cottage cheese. I like it, but it’s not what I would call My Most Favorite Thing Ever. I try to buy organic dairy products (not always, but most of the time) and organic cottage cheese always seems kind of expensive to me… with a $4.99 price tag (!!) on a 16 oz container of Organic Valley cottage cheese, this is one item I only buy when I’ve really got a hankering for cottage cheese. (i.e., not that often.)
When I was comparing prices at Wegmans, I found non-organic brands (of the same size) ranging in price from $1.99 to $2.79. (The larger containers were cheaper per ounce, as is usually the case for many food items.) A 16 oz container has four (1/2 cup) servings, so this means that each serving of cottage cheese could range in price from $.50 to $1.25. (Non-organic and organic, respectively.)
Add a little fruit, nuts, seeds or some spices, we could round the total price of a cottage cheese snack up to somewhere between $1 to $2.50. When you look at it that way – it does seem like a pretty affordable, protein packed snack that comes with a decent serving of calcium and Vitamins B6 and B12. Even the more expensive version is arguably affordable, especially when you compare it to all the things you could spend $2 on in a vending machine and get very little (if any) nutrition for your money.
The next question was my usual “what if I make it myself at home?” I looked up a couple of homemade cottage cheese recipes (this one and Alton Brown’s version) and as soon as I saw how simple it was to make at home, I got to work. Making your own involves warming up some milk, adding a little vinegar, letting it cool, straining off the whey and a-whey you go!
From the first recipe (linked above), she reports getting nearly 1 c of cottage cheese from 2 1/2 cups of milk. When I followed the same instructions with the same amount of milk, I only got 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.
So let’s break it down:
Homemade Cottage Cheese Math
1/2 gal organic milk = $3.49 for 8 cups = $0.436 per 1 c of milk
2 1/2 c milk makes 1/2 c cottage cheese = $1.09/serving cottage cheese
2 cups of homemade organic cottage cheese = $4.36
vs 2 cups of store bought organic cottage cheese for $4.99
So there is some savings when making your own, but you probably won’t be going a tropical vacation with your cottage cheese savings any time soon (unless you buy a lot of cottage cheese. Like, a lot A LOT.)
Key Points on Making Your Own Cottage Cheese
It’s very simple and only requires a few ingredients.
Even though the cost savings is minimal, it could be especially worthwhile it if you buy local or raw milk.
I was very happy I could make full fat cottage cheese! I only ever see 4%, 2% or fat free on the grocery store shelves. And as you can see on the label here, even though I bought “2% milk fat”, it appears to be made with skim milk and then cream is added to fatten it up?
You can save the whey and use it for baking or cooking.
There are other gums and added ingredients too that I was able to avoid when I made my own.
That said, the Organic Valley cottage cheese had a better consistency and tasted better too (mostly because it was saltier, if I make my own again I will definitely add more salt next time!) It also more closely resembled ricotta cheese than cottage cheese in terms of texture.
I ate my homemade stuff as a snack with a chopped up clementine - I packed this same snack for yoga teacher training this weekend too, this is a good combo of flavors.
I also remembered this crazy cottage cheese smoothie and used another serving of cottage cheese to make a smoothie with frozen strawberries, mango with a splash of milk that was totally delicious!
It tasted like strawberry cheesecake – I’m not kidding. (I shared this with Kaz and I think he drank more than I did.)
So there you have it – another food item to consider when you’re making your grocery list and are trying to get the most nutrition you can out of your money. Are you a cottage cheese fan? Do you like it sweet or savory? Have you ever made your own? Traditionally you make cottage cheese with rennet. I’m no cottage cheese making pro and have no idea if using vinegar is cottage-cheating, but it certainly was easy!