Courtney Omell | 

Grocery Essentials on a Budget — Where to Buy Cheap Milk?

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We’re all noticing the rising prices on many of our grocery essentials. Eggs are currently at a historically high price and are now, on average, around $2.19 more per dozen than they were in 2019. Milk has also reached a historical high, averaging $4.22 per gallon as of Nov. 2022. That’s $1.12 more per gallon than we saw around the same time in 2019 and $0.26 more per gallon than the previous all-time high in 2008. These seemingly little price increases add up. Your entire grocery bill is a lot higher than it used to be. So where can we find cheap milk in 2023?

Our team has been cost-comparing grocery essentials at national grocery chains to find the best deals on everyday necessities. This includes covering the best prices on eggs, butter, and even charcuterie essentials. Now I’m taking a look at the cost of milk. Below you’ll find a breakdown of a gallon of whole milk, 2% milk, and a half gallon of organic whole milk at four different grocery chains.

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Why is milk so expensive?

milk in coolers at publix grocery store

The simple answer, and one that we hear time and time again, is that the cost of production has gone up. This trickles down to the prices we see on grocery store shelves. Farmers face higher costs on everything from fertilizer to fuel. That results in higher wholesale prices and, in turn, higher grocery prices. The good news for 2023: I haven’t seen a lot of predictions saying milk prices will continue to rise. Predictions assert it will stay the same or drop lower than 2022 prices. However, they will stay higher than we’ve seen in the past few years. Unfortunately, only time will tell.

Related: Discount Grocery Stores in Every State to Help You Save Money


Where to find the best prices on cheap milk.

graphic showing where to buy the cheapest milk

I did a quick comparison at four major grocery retailers in my area, which is just outside of Pittsburgh.

There’s good news and bad news. I’m not seeing a huge difference in milk prices across these four major retailers. This is good news because that means you haven’t been overpaying for milk. But it’s also bad news because you can’t get a better deal. For the absolute lowest price across the board, Walmart is your best bet. Their Great Value brand of whole milk is just $4.86 per gallon. The next best price is Target’s Good & Gather at $4.89, just $0.03 more expensive. Trader Joe’s comes in at $4.99. Aldi is, surprisingly, the most expensive at $5.29 for a whole milk gallon.

If you’re looking to save a little extra, you could opt for 2% milk. It’s a few cents cheaper per gallon. Whole milk contains 3.25% milk fat, so you’ll lose out a bit on fat and flavor. The winner when you look at prices per gallon of 2% is still Walmart at $4.51. Then Target and Trader Joe’s tie for second at $4.59. Aldi comes in third at $4.95 per gallon of 2%.

All that being said, a gallon of whole milk roughly averages $0.04 per ounce at each of these retailers. So your best bet is to save money on gas and just grab a gallon whenever you’re at any of these stores for groceries. Even if you shop organic, you’ll pay around $0.06 per ounce at all the stores, except Aldi, which is $0.07 per ounce when you buy per half gallon.


Walmart generally has the lowest milk prices across the U.S.

walmart milk prices across united states graphic

While my milk prices in Pennsylvania are quite high, I wanted to take a look at milk prices across the U.S. Walmart has the lowest price across the board in many major cities. While they only beat Target by $0.01 in some cases, their Great Value store brand is still overall the most affordable milk in the cities we checked.

All of this being said, use this as a guide to milk shopping and cost comparison. The average price of milk in the cities we researched is $3.19. If you find milk for under $3 per gallon, and particularly if you find it around $2.75, you’re getting a pretty fair price.



How to get the best deal on cheap milk.

Since many of the store brands are nearly the same price, you should check for milk coupons and shop sales as often as possible. It also pays to be flexible with the brands you choose. By using coupons, you can save $0.75 – $1 on half gallons of some brands, so take a few extra minutes to check for them. Consider doing your grocery shopping for the week based on saving a few cents on a gallon of milk at whichever of your usual stores has the best deal. Every little bit helps right now.

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