Food List
These dairy foods pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost. They provide calcium, protein, potassium and vitamin D without a lot of sugar or unhealthy fats.


low-fat dry milk
non-fat dry milk
low-fat (1%) milk
non-fat or skim milk
soy milk

Skip whole milk. Health experts recommend fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk—as much calcium, with fewer industrial pollutants and calories.

Infants are the exception:

Children under 1 year old should not drink cow's or soy milk. Breast is best, or formula.

Children ages 1 to 2 can drink whole cow's milk.

Children older than 2 should drink low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk – like the rest of the family. For kids not used to low-fat milk, mix it in gradually.

Not all dairy products are rich in calcium. Fatty foods like cream cheese, sour cream, cream and butter have little or no calcium and should be used sparingly.


cottage cheese
queso blanco (Puerto Rican white cheese)
queso fresco

Eat less cheese. Use it for flavor, not to fill up. Low-fat cheddar, Colby, Monterey and mozzarella can have a lot less saturated fat but may have more sodium (salt) and additives.


non-fat plain yogurt

Skip flavored, "light" and "lite" yogurts. They are often loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and additives. Add fruit to plain yogurt or cottage cheese.

Top tips

Making cheese generates harmful greenhouse gases.  Find out how cheese ranks against other foods in EWG's Meat Eater's Guide.

Concerned about industrial farms? Check out why methods like pasture-raised or organic may be worth the cost.

Dry milk powder plus water makes a low-cost substitute in recipes.

Freeze cheese that starts going bad. Defrosted cheese tastes best melted. Don't buy shredded cheese – shred it yourself.

Substitute yogurt for cream and sour cream in recipes. Drain yogurt in a coffee filter to thicken. To cut cost and packaging waste, buy in large containers and measure out small servings.