Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Problem with Milk

I like milk. I don't drink very much, but I like it. And if I want milk for something, there's very little that will substitute. Water into coffee? Orange juice with a chocolate chip cookie? I think not. (Actually, my cousin has put Mountain Dew on cereal, but that's a line I just won't cross). When you want fresh milk, you want fresh milk.

However, there is a problem.

If I buy the half gallon in the plastic carton, it will last a week and a half. A gallon lasts a week and a half as well, because it has the same packaging. But it takes me two weeks to drink even the half gallon, so it spoils before I can use it.

If I buy the quart, it comes in a paper carton, and it doesn't seal as well so it spoils in four days. But it takes me a week to drink. So it STILL spoils before I can drink it.

So now my engineering brain kicks in.

"What this really is," my brain considers, "is a constant rate problem."

Miss Outlier drinks milk at a rate of gallon/month, or quart/week.

But the milk spoils at a different rates, which using our data points, is given by the figure below. Also, there is a lower limit to the amount of milk you can buy (nobody sells it by the teaspoon!).

So what's our problem? Well, here's the issue.

I can't buy an amount of milk that I can drink before it spoils!

And in addition, we are not considering complicating factors of, say, price of milk per quart, or hassle cost for buying smaller amounts more frequently. If we added that in, heavens! The problem just gets worse.

And in the meantime, I'm standing here in the kitchen with cereal in a bowl, and no fresh milk. Tragedy.

I posed this problem to a friend (who, for the record, easily can put away a half gallon a day), and the reply was -

Well, Miss Outlier, drink more milk!


  1. If you drink 2% or skim, you can freeze it. Full-fat milk tends to separate a bit.

    Another option is to buy UHT milk. Some folk claim it tastes funky but I can't tell the difference in baked goods or with tea.


  2. You could mix the milk with other drinks as well - cocktails, coffee, or tea, for instance. Or, maybe find another RA who drinks milk and share with them in the common fridge?

  3. Transfer the milk to a reusable container that will keep it longer and that you wash inbetween?

  4. Lactose free milk lasts longer and is a bit sweeter. Yummy!

  5. Well goodness! I meant the post in good fun, but here I actually have some good solutions to the problem! Thanks, all. :)