Reader Request: Finding Good Deals on Dairy Substitutes

Heather writes:

My 4 year old has developed a dairy intolerance. I’m wondering which is the best store for cost efficient dairy-free products (milk, cheeses, sour creams, etc.). I’m overwhelmed by the prices I’m seeing on most of the substitutes. Thank you!

Can you give Heather some suggestions on where to find dairy-free products at reasonable prices?  Please click here to comment with your tips!

Need help finding products or service providers here in Colorado Springs?  Check the Reader Requests Page to view the archives by category or submit your own request.



  1. My 3 year old has a strong allergy to milk, and we get his rice milk at Costco. The Kirkland Signature brand has soy and rice options, plain or vanilla, for about $13-$14 for 3 gallons. I particularly like that it comes in quart size containers and doesn’t need refrigeration until opened. We can store most in the garage and use just the space of one quart in the fridge at a time.

    I’m interested in hearing if anyone has good options for cheese, yogurt, etc. Most of what I found at regular grocery stores seemed to have a small amount of lactose or milk protein that he couldn’t handle, so we finally gave up. Even the lactic acid starter culture in pepperoni caused him issues :(

  2. My daughter is allergic to milk also. I tend to buy almond milk, look for sales to match with coupons and stock up. The shelf life is a lot longer than milk so this hasn’t been a problem. As for cheese I have just bit the bullet and spend the money for Daiya cheese. It’s the only one that melts and remotely tastes like cheese. We only do yogurt once in while because it costs so much.

    I called Hormel and they use a vegetable starter in their peperoni, but you might want to verify.
    If you search online for vegan recipes there are a lot of substitutions available. You can’t just open a can of cream soup but it is usually easy to substitute, just know you have to make a lot of stuff from scratch.

    Be careful on using too much rice milk there are mixed beliefs on the levels of arsenic in it.
    Here is a link to consumers report

    • Wow, Candy. This Arsenic report is so disturbing. We just started trying out gluten-free for my 6 year old son & are including a lot more rice in his diet. It is so frustrating that according to this report rice isn’t even safe, in a gluten-free diet where so many food are already restricted for my son, this just adds to the challenge of providing healthy meals for him. Thanks for posting this report. I had not heard of this issue.

      • We are also on a gf diet. I have now switched to quinoa and I was surprised but my family prefers it over rice (ages 2-7). You can get a big sized bag at Costco for a reasonable price. It cooks very similarly to rice, just be sure to rinse it really good before cooking (you’ll need a very small strainer for this). I’ve heard you can also cook it in a rice cooker, but I haven’t done that yet. Instead of cooking it in water, you can also cook it in chicken stock and I’ve heard some people prefer that taste better, but we’ve just done water and we like it! It is much healthier than rice, so maybe that is a good option for you.

      • We are beginning our own gluten-free journey for a family member too. Regarding rice, my friend explained to me that enriched rice is a problem because of the ingredients used to enrich it. I went to Asian Pacific (I go there all the time anyway) and picked up some rice that was not enriched. We always, always rinse our rice anyway, but if we’re going to do this right, I want to make the best effort we can.

  3. My brother is vegan, so cutting out dairy isn’t a medical necessity for him just a choice, but he has commented to me before that he ends up shopping at Whole Foods more often to cut the cost of dairy substitutes. These type of items tend to be specialty items at typical grocery stores like Safeway and King Soopers, but at Whole Foods they are more like regular items and they sell them at lower costs.

  4. My four year old daughter has recently be put on a dairy free or low dairy diet. We found that we don’t miss the dairy as much as we thought we would, though there are a few recipes we just cannot give up so we just use the dairy free substitutes. The beauty of dairy free items is their longer shelf life. You can wait until the sour cream, cream cheese, cheese, and milk substitutes are on sale with or without coupons and stock up. Just check the dates. We have found that Whole Foods and Natural Grocers have the most options in one place and have decent sales. Daiya, Tofutti, and So Delicious are our favorite brands. As well as Almond Breeze for milk. We generally purchase the Almond Breeze on sale with coupons where it’s on sale (usually King Soopers). My sister who has been dairy free for quite some time also recommends bacon (nitrate free) or turkey bacon as a substitute for cheese on sandwiches and burgers. My four year old doesn’t miss the cheese on her cheese burgers when we add bacon and tomato! In fact, she “Mmmmm”s the whole time she’s eating!

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