Boxed milk doesn't have to be refrigerated until it's opened, making it perfect anytime you'll be away from stores for an extended time -- or if you don't have a refrigerator!

Boxed Milk

If you’re going to be away from grocery stores for more than a few days, boxed milk can be a lifesaver!  It’s widely available in developing countries where there’s less refrigeration, but you can get it in many stores in the US — if you know what to look for!

Boxed milk doesn't have to be refrigerated until it's opened, making it perfect anytime you'll be away from stores for an extended time -- or if you don't have a refrigerator!I took this photo just a couple of days ago at my local Walmart Supercenter and I’ve bought boxed milk at other Walmarts across the country when we’ve taken some extended camping trips.  It’s typically in the baking aisle, of all places!  I’ve also seen it in various other chain groceries and even once in a convenience store along the ICW.

So what’s so great about boxed milk?  Well, you’ll notice that it’s on regular shelves.  It doesn’t have to be refrigerated until you open it.  Unopened, it’s good at least three months — and I’ve used some that was over 6 months old with no problems.

Use it just as you would regular milk — which is what it is, except that it’s been ultrapasteurized and packaged in a TetraPak, which totally prevents air getting to it.

Back in the days before Dave developed his milk allergy, I used boxed milk 100% of the time on the boat.  We used it on our morning cereal and in cooking.  Dave occasionally drank a glass with a sandwich.  Some people say they notice a slight difference in the taste when just drinking it; Dave didn’t.  And I never noticed any difference in cooking or on my cereal.

You can store the boxes just about anywhere — we had some very shallow lockers behind the settees that were just perfect for stacking these in.  They fit into lots of other small spaces — just make sure to remember where you’ve stashed them all.

Here in the US, almost all the boxed milk I’ve found has been the Parmalat brand, available in 2% and whole milk.  In Mexico and Central America, there were numerous brands available and Nestle made a skim milk called Svelty.

Boxed milk doesn't have to be refrigerated until it's opened, making it perfect anytime you'll be away from stores for an extended time -- or if you don't have a refrigerator!The tops shown in the photo are the most common.  You flip the plastic back and pull a foil tab off to open the box, then flip the plastic top back to close it — it sort of clicks into place.  On a boat, though, that little plastic flip top can easily jostle open in the refrigerator or cooler.  If you’re going to be in fairly protected conditions, you can just put a piece of duct tape over the top; I usually transferred the milk to a old clean juice bottle with a screw top.

In Mexico, we sometimes ran into boxes that were just “cut to open” and these had to be put into another bottle to store.  Occasionally, we’d find boxed that had a screw cap on them — although these usually cost a little more and were harder to store since the caps protruded.

Before opening a new box, be sure to shake it up well in case any of the milk solids have settled.  And then just use as you would any other milk!

If you’re struggling to store more food (or all your food!) without refrigeration, please take a look at my eBook: Storing Food without Refrigeration. For just $10, you’ll learn how to keep meat, vegetables, fruit, milk, butter, cheese, eggs and more so that you can have great meals (as well as saving money on spoiled food and stuff that no one wants to eat). See what the book covers and buy now.

Storing Veggies without Refrigeration Quick ReferenceAlso, a while back, I made a cheat sheet for storing veggies without refrigeration — notes on how to store various things and how long they’ll last. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg as far as storing food without refrigeration goes, but I’m happy to share it.

Boxed milk doesn't have to be refrigerated until it's opened, making it perfect anytime you'll be away from stores for an extended time!

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102 Comments
  • Relinda Ted Broom on Facebook
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    We have been using boxed milk for several years on Ten-Ten. We also have them in or huricane supplies at home. We find them in Publix. We get the small single serving boxes..They are great..

  • Yvonne Gumaer on Facebook
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    We also use box milk on Tropical Hideaway. We get ours at Costco’s and you can get it in regular, chocolate and vanilla.

  • Charlotte
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    This is popular back home in Scotland, but I hadnt seen it here. As we dont use milk in tea of coffee we never seem to have any around when we want cereal, or when someone comes over who takes it, so thanks for reminding me about it.

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    Great to know more places to buy it — where I am, the single serving boxes are only chocolate and are sold next to to the NesQuik!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    I should also mention that you can also get “boxed” soy milk, rice milk and almond milk — location varies, it’s often in the juice or cereal aisle but not always.

  • Yvonne Gumaer on Facebook
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    Failed to mention that the boxed milk we use is soymilk.

  • ben
    Posted at 11 January 2012 Reply

    The boxed milk I had was in The Phillippines, and it tended to taste a little flat and slightly metallic. I don’t know if it was a regional thing or what, but it definitely didn’t taste quite like regular pasturized milk. It could have been that I was specifically looking for the difference in taste, or that I don’t drink a lot of milk anyway. I would totally use it in cooking, but if you absolutely *need* your milk, I’d say boxed still tastes better than dry (at least in my experience.)

  • Waterwoman
    Posted at 16 January 2012 Reply

    Used box milk all the time while we were in Mexico. Svelty was pretty good.

    Does anyone know if there is a distributor for cream other than the Nestle Media Crema? We don’t use milk due to health issues, but cream is ok. Would love the boxed milk idea with cream! Otherwise, I guess it is Nestle or nothing for long term storage.

    Thanks.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 16 January 2012 Reply

      Once in a while in Mexico and Central America, we’d run into others but not often. I remember one was from New Zealand and full cream, but don’t remember the brand name.

      -Carolyn

      • Chuck
        Posted at 04 December 2013 Reply

        The brand was ” anchor ” brand milk products

  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 07 June 2012 Reply

    BTW, Carolyn, I really do like the Nido Whole powdered milk you recommended..I keep it all of the time!! AND my husband mounted my new fans, and even he loves them ( and he has an aversion to fans-LOL). Thanks for all of your tips!!

  • Chuck Burns on Facebook
    Posted at 19 January 2013 Reply

    All the boxes I have come with a stamped expiry date… Does it really mean anything? I have sailed from San Francisco to Fiji to Australia with these as our milk supply and they lasted a very long time even in the tropics

  • Immo Weichert on Facebook
    Posted at 19 January 2013 Reply

    I grew up on UHT/boxed milk. Until I left home in the mid 90s I never knew anything else. I haven’t seen an unopened box go off, even months after the expiry date. BTW, the tetrapack’s inside makes a great waterproof notepad for passage plans etc. .

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 19 January 2013 Reply

    The worst that happened to us (with a couple boxes left from a previous owner that I discovered, several years after their use-by dates) was that the milk solids had settled to the bottom of the box.

  • Chris&Janet
    Posted at 18 August 2013 Reply

    We have recently had Parmalat (Zymil) spoil on us in less than half the predicted shelf life. When we asked the New Zealand supplier for assistance, the response was instant and generous. Unfortunately it turned out ours had come from Italy. When we queried them (in English and Italian) a response was not forthcoming. The spoiled milk also destroyed our sourdough starter.

  • Julie Dausman
    Posted at 09 September 2013 Reply

    Talked with a Kiwi cruiser and he said it was available in New Zealand.

  • Danielle Gagne
    Posted at 09 September 2013 Reply

    Available all through out the MED: Spain, France, Italy, Malta…

  • Nancy Orloski
    Posted at 09 September 2013 Reply

    Ready for our first long term trip (the ICW from NJ to Florida, leaving in about a month, no laughing from real cruisers please). We plan to stay on the hook as much as possible so I tried a box for the first time for my milk drinking husband. He said it was good. That’s good enough for me. We will be stocking Parmalat for the trip. Thanks for the idea and all the encouragement!!! Love your site.

    • Janet&Chris
      Posted at 09 September 2013 Reply

      Just pour into a cup or glass and inspect before using in recipes. It does go bad before it should sometimes.

  • Kenneth Arnold
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    “Gossner” from NZ or Aus. is another brand avail..

  • Jennifer Handley
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    Boxed milk is available pretty much throughout the South Pacific; we lived on it and the heavenly full-cream powdered milk (Anchor brand) from NZ.

  • Nicki Pendergast
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    Bahamas

  • Patti Giese
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Dutch Lady brand & some others.

  • Gary Hebb
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    I believe we’ve found boxed milk in every grocery store inn every country in the Eastern Caribbean, PR and DR. But, I don’t think we generally found it in the Bahamas.

    • Chris&Janet
      Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

      Maxwell’s in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco routinely stocks it (as of May of this year).

  • Kirsty Anne Watson
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    In Australia we call it UHT which stands for Ultra High Treated.. We have always had it in the shops here and is a great substitute for fresh and tastes so much better than powdered. It has a shelf life of up to 12 months so is ideal to have on board for extended cruising.

  • Terry Lynn Simmons
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    And for those of us who drink soy milk its available too.

  • Richard Annett
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    Everywhere in the Med

  • Carole Macaluso-Thomas
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    Walmart has Almond Milk in boxes.

  • Monique Davis
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    The boxed milk in Greenland, remarkably enough, is even less expensive than what I’ve found in the United States. On average it was about 2 USD, but we often found sales where, if you bought 12 or more, it was fifty cents. The brand (Arla) also seemed to taste better than Parmalat. It was a welcome surprise that offset the eight dollar broccoli and prohibitively expensive alcohol!

  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 10 September 2013 Reply

    WOW! Thanks to everyone who has added info on where it’s available — I often get questions and it’s nice to have a list from people who have actually BEEN there!

  • Jan Alexander
    Posted at 11 September 2013 Reply

    Also readily available in Turkey and Israel. I have also discovered “half and half” in these shelf stable boxes and it is great, but I have only found it in St. Thomas, USVI, sigh… I think it is a Canadian product.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 11 September 2013 Reply

      Half-and-half is readily available in Mexico — called Media Crema — in 1 cup boxes. In the US, Trader Joe’s has true whipping cream in little boxes. I know, those won’t help where you are 🙁

  • Belinda Bacon-Reinagel Wolfe
    Posted at 11 September 2013 Reply

    Even though I cruise in the US I still stock up on Parmalat (from Walmart – baking isle). It is my emergency back up if I can’t easily get refrigerated milk.

  • Jan Alexander
    Posted at 11 September 2013 Reply

    Shelf stable whipping cream is also widely available in France and other Mediterranean European countries, as well as “light cream” (“creme legere”) but there’s nothing quite like half n half:-) We go cruising to try new things, though and survive just fine without all those “home” things! .

  • Monika Ludewig Bradley
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    We purchase similarly boxed soy milk, almond milk and rice milk. The stated “use by” date on those is often up to a year out. (I have a milk allergy)

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

      Dave has a milk allergy, too, and we use soy in a box. Guess i should write a post about it, huh?

    • Monika Ludewig Bradley
      Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

      That’s why I wrote. I was surprised you didn’t mention all the alternatives especially since their shelf life is usually longer (as is refrigerated soy, almond, coconut or flax “milk”. Also coconut milk in a can is good in coffee and the thick coconut cream can be whipped almost like whipping cream if you get the can REALLY cold first and pour out the liquid

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

      I had no idea how many people like/use soy and almond milk . . . I thought we were just unusual.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

      It’s been added to the list of things to post about 🙂

    • Monika Ludewig Bradley
      Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

      Approx 50% of adults are lactose intolerant…. Of course those of is with a true dairy allergy are worse off. And my husband and i are also gluten intolerant ( celiac). So that makes provisioning way harder.

  • Kenneth Arnold
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    I get this at Dollar Tree stores for $1 🙂 different brand from Aust.

  • Lahowind
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    We use this all the time and it really does actually taste great!

  • Carol Ann
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    Love Parmalat on the boat, and on my pantry shelves, for not having to ‘run out’ in bad weather! Maybe some day, they’ll think of a way to process cream for the same benefit? I love putting a drop of cream in my sauces! Liquifying Coffee Mate almost works…. :/

  • Sheree Stevens Wainwright
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    I’m going to use this tip for our cruise on Superior next month! Thanks!

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    We use UHT milk and cream in Australia even when not cruising. We like the convenience…especially the cream.

  • Ginny Teatro
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    We have been using almond milk in the boxes for several years. We are sailing in the USA and Canada and have no problem locating it.

  • Sherry Day
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    We have started using Nestle’s Sunshine powdered milk. This way we are not storing liquid. First found it in the Marquesas and throughout French Polynesia. It is harder to find as we sail west. Found it in Tonga and a little here in Fiji. It is much more expensive in Fiji so stock up with the big cans in FP.

  • John Colley
    Posted at 27 July 2014 Reply

    takes getting used to,Cooked milk is not my favourite,Some dried milks can taste great.

  • Amy Kohl Hoag
    Posted at 27 July 2014 Reply

    Taste it before you buy in bulk. Some brands taste just like fresh milk and some taste cooked. Parmalat is NOT my favorite.

  • Janet Doyle
    Posted at 27 July 2014 Reply

    Finally found some in our local grocery store!!

  • Ed Howe
    Posted at 23 September 2016 Reply

    I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your posts. They are on the same level as Practical Sailor in their usefulness. Thank you.

  • Ed Robinson
    Posted at 23 September 2016 Reply

    Boxed milk was a life-saver for us in the Bahamas. We loaded up at the Dollar Tree in Marathon for one dollar per box!

  • Michael Guelker-Cone
    Posted at 23 September 2016 Reply

    Our experience with the boxed milk we purchased from Dollar Tree here in Bellingham, WA was that it doesn’t taste like the fresh milk you buy that isn’t shelf stable. It had an off taste we just didn’t care for at all, even in our coffee. Is there a better source for this kind of milk or should we expect it to taste like it does?

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 24 September 2016 Reply

      I’m guessing that if it was from Dollar Tree, it may have been sitting around for a while and the solids may have settled. We never noticed a major difference in taste when we bought it in groceries, and be sure to shake it up well before putting in the refrig to cool.

  • Kathy Orr
    Posted at 24 September 2016 Reply

    We use it all the time in the Caribbean. Too hard getting to grocery stores, and it’s a great size for the boat fridge.

  • Bent Pedersen
    Posted at 24 September 2016 Reply

    In our experience, powdered milk has a much better taste. We use it with water from the watermaker, tastes more or less like fresh milk.

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 24 September 2016 Reply

    We use it all the time. Could find it easily in SE Asia too.

  • Amber Amodei
    Posted at 26 September 2016 Reply

    I thought the Dairy Pure brand (whole milk) tasted fantastic once it was chilled.

  • Carole Erdman Grant
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    ….or are in Europe where boxed UHT milk is the norm.

  • Darlene Luxton
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    But UHT is disgusting!!!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      No it’s not. It’s unnoticeable in cooking; we used it all the time on cereal and didn’t notice a difference. Maybe try a different brand?

    • Terry Bogart
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      It’s fine for me too.

    • Ray Thackeray
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      Disgusting? Rubbish. In fact UHT milk is pretty standard un all of Europe, if it was “disgusting” it would not be sold. Perhaps the one time in your entire life you tried UHT you had some old stuff, but you need to get out more.

  • CJ Grabenstein
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    We found some at the dollar store!! Will stock up before we head out of here.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      Try one first and make sure of the expiration dates. I’ve had other friends get them at the dollar store — some were good, some were past their prime (solids had settled at the bottom and just were lumps even after shaking).

  • Terry Bogart
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    I always used it when I lived in Spain. Could rip the edge off. My husband doesn’t care for it. I wonder if almond milk has to be refrigerated? Cruising friends that she only liked milky coffee used to buy a box of restaurant creamers.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      Almond milk also comes in boxes that do not need refrigeration until opened.

  • Laura Fortune
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    I wish I could find boxed milk and cream in the states. I really miss it.

    • Terry Bogart
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      Walmart should have it….most mini markets too.

    • David Lake
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      every store down here has it

    • Rebecca Cox
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      Dollar Trees have it

    • Ray Thackeray
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      In the USA the only brand of UHT I’ve ever found is PARMALAT and amazingly it’s usually on shelves where you would never think to find milk.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      The post tells where to find it. It’s in most larger groceries.

    • Dave Skolnick
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      If UHT milk isn’t in diary try the baby food aisle.

    • Debie Petersen
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      Trader Joe’s carries it AND boxed whipping cream.

  • Teresa Morgan-Kenney Young
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    Rice Milk does not need refrigerated either and comes in small containers. Not sure how they milk rice but I love it!

  • Lisa Carol Kelly
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    How much preservatives are in it and chemicals?

  • Steven Taylor
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    Be cool if they came in smaller portions.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      It does. Usually found in the juice aisle. It’s marketed for kids.

  • David Lake
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    too bad that its about 12 dollars a gallon……..

    • Rebecca Cox
      Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

      Get it at Dollar Tree, we’ve used theirs for years

  • Kristi Cilles
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    I am still a fan of Nestle’s brand powdered milk. It puts all other powdered milks to shame. It’s really good. Sometimes hard to find, but can be ordered online.

  • Aileen Foust
    Posted at 06 August 2017 Reply

    It’s a bit more expensive & not as creamy if you need actual cream, but evaporated milk (not sweetened or condensed) can also work.

    I finally found dehydrated milk & cream on Amazon. No chemicals & seriously tastes great. Hoosier Farms is what I’m trying these days but there’s a few.

    Nestle has Nido & there’s just a ton of chemicals in it. Really hard on people prone to gall stones & such.

  • Rebecca L Girouard
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    We use boxed almond milk.

  • Ray Thackeray
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    UHT is the proper term around the world. Some people say they don’t like it but they are the ones who have never tried it. I don’t know what the mental block against it is but it isn’t popular in the USA and I think that’s where you hear the biggest objections. I think it’s something to do with the fact that it does not need refrigeration. Look folks, it’s milk. Nothing wrong with it. Get over your pre-conceived ideas. In the USA the only brand of UHT I’ve ever found is PARMALAT and amazingly it’s usually on shelves where you would never think to find milk.

  • Ray Thackeray
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    UHT is VERY useful on a boat especially when you have limited refrigerator space, and that’s all I will buy when I can find it. However, most people have not tried powdered milk and you’d be amazed. Most crew say “YUK!” when they find it in the cupboard, but I often use an old milk bottle and mix up some full-cream Nestle powdered milk and stick it in the refrigerator. When breakfast comes around and the crew are eating their cornflakes, I try not to guffaw when they say “Wow this milk tastes great!”

  • Gregory Pace
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    dollar tree $1.00 for a liter bx

  • John Walton
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    We used to call this space milk. After a long transit from Seattle to Antarctica we were down to space milk and three bean salad. When we got to Antarctica we got supplies from Christchurch New Zealand. They would forward apples from Washington state, mail, much needed parts and white and chocolate milk from New Zealand. The milk that was dropped on the bow was like Heaven. It was like drinking melted whole fat ice cream. Space milk has it’s place in the world, milk from New Zealand is like, the best. We let the Mc Murdo folks on board a week after we had tied Polar Star to a pier made of ice. During the tours of Mc Murdo folks, we had to force them out of the mess decks, to see our engine systems and bridge. No Mc Murdo folks left the ship without a pocket full of Washington State apples… That says a lot about a human being.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      And NZ powdered milk is fantastic.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

      And that’s a hell of a trip (but you don’t need to be told that).

  • Karen Bowen
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    On Vancouver Island in BC I found Thrifty’s and Superstore carry boxed
    milk. Superstore also carries a brand of Media Creme.

  • Terry Peake
    Posted at 07 August 2017 Reply

    Its all i use….even at the shore. Milk is milk.

  • Chantal Gellermann
    Posted at 09 August 2017 Reply

    I used to buy it all the time and always kept one as emergency but now I’m lactose intolerant. What’s the alternative? I need lactose free milk to make my yogurt

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