I eat a lot of yogurt at the moment. I’d like it to cost less money. Two litres a week is easily $10 from our grocery budget, and that’s more than 5%.

For a while I’ve been using an Easi-Yo maker. You get a $5ish sachet of milk powder and bacteria, mix it up to a litre of lukewarm milk-ish liquid, and keep it warm in the yogurt maker. The instructions always say it only takes 8 hours but I find it’s more like 18.

This saves a bit of money. But milk is cheaper than $5/litre! Why do I have to spend so much on sachets?

If you spend some time with our dear friend Google, you’ll find instructions on how to make yogurt in an Easi-Yo maker, with normal milk. And an accurate thermometer. And a saucepan. And half an hour or more of fiddling with the stove. Nope. Not going to do that.

Next stop, milk powder. It doesn’t need to be heated to 85 degrees, it’s already been heated enough to dry it out.

Experiment one: Milk Powder

I took half a cup of yogurt from my last batch, ~130g of milk powder, mixed it up, and left it overnight.

Yahoo! The yogurt set! It tastes great!

But that texture … kind of grainy. Odd. Ok on my breakfast but still … odd.

Experiment two: THE BLENDER

I did basically the same thing but mixed everything in the blender and let it sit for half an hour for the bubbles to pop before putting it in the yogurt maker.

Yahoo! Not gritty!

I kept doing things this way for a week. It works well.

But … Half a cup of yogurt is over 10% of my last batch, surely I can be a bit more efficient.

Experiment three: a quarter cup of starter

Yup – less starter. Worked fine.

Possible future work

Try this with UHT milk instead of milk powder, it would save the half hour of mixing. But then you’re producing more waste – a 1L UHT carton is much bigger than an eighth share of a 1kg milk powder bag.

Rough cost analysis

  • 1 litre equivalent of Milk Powder – about $1.25
  • 60ml of yoghurt – add 6%
  • Cost per litre of yogurt – $1.33
  • Cost per sachet of commercial mix – $3.75 on special
  • Savings – minimum 64%. Milk powder is marginally cheaper at other supermarkets and the sachets are usually more expensive.
  • Savings – no refrigerated transport or storage required while the milk is in powder form, and the only waste is the milk powder bags. Unfortunately they have to be thrown in the bin, they’re not recyclable here.

Full instructions for ultra cheap yoghurt

The first batch – just use a sachet

Buy an easi-yo maker from an op shop, and a second Easi-yo yogurt jar and a sachet of natural yoghurt mix from the supermarket. Try to get the one with all the yummy bacteria – the ones with only L.bulgaricus and S.thermophilus don’t taste right to me, make sure it’s got L.acidophilus and B.bifidum too. Hansells is fine. Follow the instructions and make up some yoghurt. Wait 12-18 hours, refrigerate, eat. I usually eat some while it’s still warm which feels a little odd.

Second and subsequent batches – milk powder FTW

When you’re almost out, mix up in a blender

  • 3 1/4 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup of the remains of the last yogurt batch
  • ~120g milk powder (roughly enough to make a litre of milk)

Wait for the bubbles to die down, fill your yogurt maker thing with boiling water, pour the milky mix into the yogurt jar, put it in the yogurt maker, and wait 12-18 hours.