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I've been considering trying to reduce my dairy consumption for environmental reasons (I've long since reduced my meat consumption), but I'm not sure what to use for various substitutions.

I generally go through one to four gallons of whole milk per two weeks. Uses include:

  • A little bit in scrambled eggs
  • Pancakes, muffins, popovers, and the occasional custard or quiche
  • Yogurt (easier than buying separately, probably cheaper, and I strain it to be much thicker than anything I can find in bulk in stores)
  • Oatmeal, both cooked with milk and then supplemented with yogurt
  • Soda-bread, made with yogurt rather than buttermilk
  • Hot cocoa
  • Mac-and-cheese (not box mix, so milk and cheese and butter are all involved)
  • Milk-enriched yeast bread

And then there's butter and cheese for various things, but I buy those separately rather than making them from milk, so replacing dairy milk wouldn't affect that.

I would expect that the hot cocoa, the yeast bread and quickbreads, the scrambled eggs, and the oatmeal, could work simply replacing the dairy milk with almond or oat or soy milk, because all of those would work with water or with no liquid at all (just less tasty/nutritious). I am less confident that that would work for making custard, quiche, or a properly thick sauce for mac-and-cheese (even allowing dairy cheese), since I'm pretty sure the milk is relevant there chemically/structurally, but I'm not sure. I have a bad feeling that I could not make an acceptable yogurt (both for flavor and for adding sufficient acid to soda-bread) from nondairy milk, or at least not without significantly more effort than the fairly trivial process of making yogurt overnight in a slow cooker.

Is there a single replacement I could buy for dairy milk for all of these products? Lacking that, what replacements should I use for any given portion?

  • I’ve had some great success using coconut milk. Brand really matters... some taste clean and some taste overly coconuty and metallic. – mroll Jan 24 at 2:28
  • I use Silk products...either Soy or Almond. Never have had an issue, and they work very closely to what is expected from Dairy Milk. Been using for years. – SittingElf Jan 24 at 14:56
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I’m a huge dairy lover but I recently found out a couple years ago that I am lactose intolerant and had to make the switch over to non-dairy almost everything.

  • If continuing to use butter isn’t a problem for you, keep that one. I bake a ton and butter is still the best option for popovers (my grandma was British, I make them every Christmas) and any sorts of breads. If not, subbing in margarine or a vegan butter (basically margarine) works well too.
  • For 90% of what’s on your list, unsweetened original flavor almond-milk is my go-to, oat milk would work well too. Both of those have the mildest flavor and bake well too. Any sauce that needs to be thicker or richer, sub out soy milk instead for chowders or say a bechamel sauce, which could work with almond-milk as well if you just added a little cornstarch and non-dairy or goat cheese, thickens it like a charm! -Non-dairy yogurts and cheeses have come leaps and bounds in the last 10 years! For cooking I’d recommend using either goat-milk yogurt for the tangy-ness or a Kite hill, Silk, or Lavva (which has a really tangy unsweetened one I just used to make a tzatziki sauce the other day, came out great!). For non-dairy cheeses, the best are from Lisanatti Foods (almond-milk mozzarella block), VioLife (their cheddar slices and Parm block are great), or Chao (great slices of cheese for sandwiches).
  • Since ‘oat milk’ is essentially 10% oats, water and a bit of seed oil and calcium and vitamin supplements, why not just cook your oatmeal in water and either boost your vitamin/calcium from leafy greens or take a supplement pill? I always make porridge with water, making it with expensive ‘oats in water’ from a store sounds mad. – Spagirl Jan 24 at 15:07
  • I personally use either almond or soy milk since they tend to be a little higher in vitamins (and flavor), but some of the almond and coconut milk combos might work well too for overnight oats. – pimentoandprose Jan 24 at 16:06
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I don't think you'll find a single substitute. A useful one that keeps indefinitely in a cupboard is coconut milk powder (or the solid blocks, but the powder is more convenient). It's also not too expensive in Indian or Far Eastern supermarkets in the UK.

Hot chocolate/cocoa benefits from using coconut milk. I've been doing this for a while mainly because it tastes good, but it's now on offer in some of the coffee shops round here. I keep coconut milk powder for use in curries etc, so use that. I use somewhere between the thin and thick quantities they say.

In porridge/oatmeal, you can also use whatever you like the taste of. My first attempt with coconut milk powder (and other flavouring ingredients) wasn't quite the flavour I wanted, and I didn't get round to trying again until today. With honey and raisins it was quite nice. I often use (skimmed dairy) milk powder to make mine, because I can bring a dry mix into work and get breakfast using only a kettle and microwave, so I used the same approach with the coconut milk powder.

I have made macaroni cheese using leftover almond milk or soya milk. Both worked, but I still used butter. I tend to use a proper stovetop recipe rather than a microwave one, and add the milk gradually. This allows me to get the consistency right.

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