It Seriously Pays To Pick Up Alternative Milks At The Dollar Store

The love for dairy milk alternatives has been alive and well for years now. Right when consumption of regular dairy options began to fall, cartons of almond and soy milk came in to take their place. While the reasons why people began to make the swap vary, a lot of it may be due to the many health benefits plant-based milk offers. Depending on the type, alternative milk can offer anything from lower fat and sugar content to a much smaller carbon footprint.

While alternative milks have been rising in popularity above dairy options for the past few years, dairy milk generally still beats the plant-based category as a whole in terms of affordability. Unfortunately, swapping out dairy milk for a plant-based option in many cafes and coffee shops usually accompanies an added surcharge. And even on grocery store shelves, cartons of oat, soy, and almond milk can sell for double the cost of their dairy counterparts. For some, alternative milk's added health benefits are not always worth the splurge. However, there is a way to get your weekly carton of coconut milk for half the cost. Consider checking out the dollar store.

What's with the higher cost?

While alternative milk might take less land and water to produce than dairy milk, it still costs more. In grocery stores, a half-gallon of almond milk can be double the price of whole milk at the same size. Starbucks charges about 70 cents extra for requests for dairy milk alternatives, and many other national and local cafes alike have similar up-charges. (So don't be surprised when your oat milk honey latte costs $7).

Some plant-based milk users have dubbed these extra charges unfair, especially for those with dietary restrictions. (Experts estimate that almost 68% of the population has some form of lactose intolerance per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). So why do we end up paying more anyway?

A big reason behind the difference in price is due to the dairy industry being subsidized by the U.S. government. The alternative milk industry simply isn't supported in the same way, so retailers have to pay more to provide it. In addition, plant-based milk is pricier because of higher-quality packaging and a more complex "bottling process." All these factors are reflected in the cost. Still, there is one place where you can count on those lower costs. Here's why it seriously pays to pick up alternative milks at the dollar store.

The best place to buy plant-based milk

Anyone who has frequented a dollar store knows that you can often get similar dupes of your favorite brands here for considerably less — and alternative kinds of milk are no exception. Instead of paying double the cost for pretty packaging or a big brand with the same ingredients, you can get your carton of oat milk for half the cost. Many dollar stores have shelf-stable and refrigerated cartoons ready and waiting on the shelf — with nearly the same ingredients for a whole lot less.

For example, Dollar Tree sells its 32-ounce carton of unsweetened almond milk for just $1.25, while the same size name-brand product retails for triple the price at other stores like Walmart. So whether you're incorporating your plant-based milk into your bowl of morning oatmeal or stirring it into your afternoon cup of coffee, why not give the dollar store a visit to see how it compares?