Like many others, the menu of my life has been filled with every dairy product imaginable since I was a child. Milk, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, and cheeses of all kinds are some of the featured characters, and my love for them has not ceased since I have been in college. For the last few years, I have been grocery shopping for myself and generally making my own food decisions. Dairy has remained at the helm of my meals, and for many good reasons, too.
A feature of dairy I have always loved is the affordability! This is especially easy to tell now that there are many plant-based beverages to compare milk to, which really shows how affordable the average gallon of milk can be. For example, an article from newenglanddairy.com wrote that an average half-gallon of milk costs $2.89, while the same amount of almond beverage costs $3.79. I can buy many other basic products such as sliced or shredded cheese and cream cheese while staying well within my food budget.
I can also make a wide variety of meals with the same supplies. A strategy I have for groceries, is thinking about how many different ways I can use an item to prevent waste and maximize my purchase. I will use parts of a package of shredded cheese throughout an entire week. For example, one day I will make a breakfast burrito or sandwich sprinkled with cheese, the next I will have tacos for dinner topped with cheese or mix together a pot of macaroni and cheese. (Yes, I occasionally have a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese – sometimes you just have to make do!)
One last favorite part of dairy products I will mention is the nutrition I receive from such a simple and easy to consume product. I can quickly grab a yogurt or a cheese stick from my fridge before I hurry off to class and get the satisfaction with putting food in my belly while knowing I received good nutrients for my body. It can be so easy to survive off cereal and ramen noodles (and sometimes I do), but dairy keeps me going day after day. I don’t know what I would do without it!
Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper served as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.