Last Friday we did our grocery shopping at Walmart for the first time in forever, and when I went to grab our weekly three (!) gallons of milk, I noticed a brand of milk that I’ve seen more and more people talking about online lately – Fairlife.
A gallon (16 cups) of Walmart’s brand of whole milk was $2.98. A half(ish) gallon (seven cups) of Fairlife whole milk was $3.50.
Do the math: Fairlife is more than double the milk we regularly buy (we always stick with the store brand)! I was intrigued though about what the fuss was about Fairlife, so I decided to quickly grab one Fairlife whole milk, two of Walmart’s brand of whole milk, and do a little research later (i.e. why is the price of Fairlife so steep?!)
I’m not a big milk drinker (except in shakes, which is why we have almond milk), but as soon as I tasted the Fairlife milk, I could taste the difference. SO delicious! Jamie agreed, and so did my kids! In fact, I poured a little bit of each kind of milk into separate cups and let Hadley have a sip of both, and then asked her which cup she wanted. She quickly pointed to the “creamy” milk (Fairlife). Jamie and I also burst out laughing when Hadley took a sip of her milk during dinner a few nights ago and out of the blue said “Ohhh dis is so creamy and yummy guys!” Our three year old could taste the difference!
What floored me though was the comparison of nutrition labels. Fairlife has 13 g of protein and 6g of sugar, compared to Walmart’s 8g of protein and 11g of sugar.
And this is where ignorance used to be bliss because I never second-guessed the milk I was buying; $9/week was enough! But now we’d be looking at $21/week (almost $50 more per month!), and that just seems crazy!
So my thought process a few days ago was all “There is no way we can boost our already-high monthly grocery budget 50 extra bucks just for milk!” and then was all “But if my kids drink that much, they might as well get as much of the good stuff as possible, right?!” (Side note: My girls each drink three cups a day, and Jamie drinks one tall glass every night with either a sleeve of Oreos or two PB&Js – ha!)
Jamie and I agreed that we were at a crossroads.
Arg. I am absolutely positive this is the definition of #firstworldproblems.
So I polled the audience so to speak on IG stories and asked for your thoughts on not only milk, but on other grocery store purchases. What items do you shell more money out for if it means that it’s a healthy/organic option? My inbox was soon FLOODED with responses. I couldn’t believe so many people were interested in MILK, but then again, it’s something almost all of us buy, so of course we’re all interested?
I pulled just a few of the responses I received to share with you, since many of you asked me to share what others’ opinions were. Here ya go!
On sacrificing –
“I never sacrifice when it comes to food. I buy all natural all organic anything. Real talk: we don’t have cable so that we can afford to do it.”
A great resource –
“…we have to buy our little one almond milk (she had constipation issues from regular). What I did was look at ALL brands of almond milks and researched them on the EWG database. If they were expensive but had a good EWG score, I was all about spending the extra money. If they didn’t have a great rating, I passed.” She continued to add that the EWG database “takes into account all of the ingredients, nutrition, and processing done. It scores it 1-10. I take it with a grain of salt but they do a lot of environmental work to get laws for safer products for us and our babies. It’s worth checking out!”
About the Fairlife shelf life (wow) –
“We do Fairlife and it’s $2.99 at the commissary! You can buy in bulk because it lasts 3x as long as regular milk and you can freeze it!”
On sugar, substitutions, and balance –
“I go cheap with milk because mine also used to drink a TON! But they only have about 1-2 cups a day now. They also only drink milk and water – we never have juice! So I don’t feel too bad about the sugar. I do buy them the Oikos greek yogurt because it’s super high in protein and decent in the sugar department. They also love spaghetti squash and think it’s regular spaghetti, along with a ton of bananas because they are cheap. But we buy our fair share of Uncrustables too.”
Another option to consider –
“Do you have a local farmer’s market? We have Shatto milk here and it’s cheaper than Fairlife and about $1 more than grocery store milk. Also for my college kid who drinks nonstop, I buy the cheaper stuff because he burns the sugar at football. The little ones do the local (milk).”
GMOs, price comparisons, and the outer rim of the grocery story –
“I always buy cage free or organic eggs. I just feel like they are a bit better quality and it’s my donation for animals. 🙂 I’ll buy organic if it’s very close in price but I don’t go crazy over it. Now I do attempt not to buy anything with GMOs (Yoplait for example has GMOs listed). To me it’s better to eat more fruits, veggies, and thing you find on the outside of the grocery store and staying away from the stuff in the middle (processed) than it is to eat organic versus not.”
One dietitian’s advice –
“My friend is an registered dietitian and always tells me to be careful of meats that aren’t organic because of the growth hormones and such in the other meats. I’m not always perfect about it but I do try to only buy organic. I’m sure when I’m pregnant I’ll be even more careful! I love the Fairlife milk and buy it when my nieces come to town but don’t buy it regularly!”
Another dietitian’s advice (so interesting!) –
“Hadley should be drinking 1% milk now that she’s over 2 so if you and Hadley can share the Fairlife low fat and then get whole for Jamie and Sadie that might help with some of the costs. Because of the higher fat content, it’s best for children over age 2 to do lower fat dairy products so it doesn’t fill them up too much… Whole milk is not my favorite in general but old recommendations say that kids from 1-2 still need higher fat mills to help with brain development, but recent research shows that kids getting low-fat content that young still continue to have good brain development. As a dietitian, I don’t like recommending whole milk to children just because of the increasing rate of obesity occurring at such young ages now. With Jamie being still so active, he would be okay drinking whole milk. The average adult diary intakes are about three cup servings, for Hadley and Sadie they would be 2-3 cup servings. But remember you have to include yogurt and cheese there too.”
My frequent thought process –
“I usually try to buy stuff that’s better for me even if it’s more expensive. Although part of me is like I didn’t grow up on that stuff and I am fine haha!”
A couple places to find great deals –
“We drink the chocolate (Fairlife) milk, and my husband can go through one container in a day! It’s so so good! The commissary is definitely cheaper, sometimes by a $1 or more. You can check out Target too – every now and then they have 2 for $5 which is a pretty good deal!”
On budgeting and meal planning –
“We spend more on produce and meat! We budget around it so it works for us, but it takes some serious planning when meal prepping for the week.”
Watching that budget closely –
“Erica! Fair life is way way way worth it. I could go on and on about all the reasons but TRUST me from a health perspective for your whole family, it is worth it. We evaluate our grocery list (especially the staples) every month to see if we can cut down in areas or if we are wasting money in areas. That way we know the money we are spending is being used appropriately and is fueling our family is the best way possible.”
A realistic option for my family –
“I would maybe buy two of the healthier milks for your girls and buy the regular one for your husband. That may sound bad, but I think it’s a little more important that your girls have the healthier stuff since they’re still growing and nutrition is super important for them right now. Also, we tend to pay more for healthier snacks for our kids. Again, nutrition is everything for them right now, so we try and find a healthy balance between getting really healthy snacks and not breaking the bank.”
From a Kansas dairy farmer herself –
“Fairlife is ultra filtered to put more protein back into the milk. It has less sugar because of how it is filtered and it’s lactose free. (Fairlife) actually has a patent on it so they are the only milk that does this. Regular milk does not have anything added to it other than being fortified with vitamin D. All of the sugar in regular milk in naturally occurring. So essentially Fairlife goes through more processing than regular milk. (Regular milk has) nothing added. All natural. Not bad for you. If cost is a factor and you’re not lactose intolerant then they should feel confident in choose regular milk in my honest opinion.”
WHO KNOWS. Realistically, I’ll probably start picking up one or two of them when I see them at the store occasionally (they’re not at the stores I typically shop at, or at least I’ve never noticed them before.) I’ll probably ask Jamie to keep his paws off of it and save it for the littles who could use the extra protein. 🙂
What would you do? What else do you splurge on to make sure that it’s the most wholesome choice for your family?