I've been a long-time fan of the McDonald's Fruit & Yogurt parfait for many reasons: the low price, convenience, total nutrition of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, the fruit, and convenience. But, I know that I can do better at home making my own.
So I set out on a mission to do just that.
First off, I bought quart of vanilla yogurt, a box of strawberries, and a sleeve of 9-ounce cups. The yogurt was about $6.00 (for the organic, all-natural kind), the fruit was a tad out of season so a quart of strawberries was around $5.00. The strawberries had to be used right away, and I quickly learned that a quart of yogurt makes about 6 parfaits if that's all we're eating for breakfast. While I felt a little better about the all-natural yogurt, the price tag was almost double of the dollar version at McD's. Additionally, I didn't even add blueberries or granola, and the cups were a bit wasteful to throw away each time. We also noticed that trying to eat on on the run was difficult because the natural yogurt was much more runny than McDonald's.
The next time around, I found a bag of frozen berries on sale about 16 ounces for $2.30. McDonald's isn't overly generous with the fruit, so while I can make my parfait to my tastes, comparatively, the 1 lb bag would go a long way. (Assuming 1 ounce/cup, that's about $0.14/cup.) Secondly, I bought yogurt on sale. This time, store brand, plain yogurt. It was a little thicker than the organic, all-natural, but I had to add ~1/2 cup of brown sugar and a 1/2 Tablespoon of vanilla to make it palatable. The cost of the additions were negligible since I already had them in my pantry, but the additions made the yogurt thinner - not what I wanted. The advantage, though, was that a quart was only $3.00, making the cost of each yogurt parfait about $0.64.
If you're a yogurt eater, you know that greek style yogurt is very popular right now because of the thick consistency. So, finding inexpensive greek vanilla yogurt would be the best scenario. But the greek style is actually more expensive than the regular.
So here's where I'm at - why not make my own?
I went to several sources for instructions and to see what sort of specialized equipment was needed. This one: http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/ calls for stainless steel pots, a thermometer, and a heating pad - all things that I have in my house because my husband is a home brewer.
This one: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html uses a slow crock cooker to heat the yogurt and a thick towel to insulate while the cultures are doing their thing. I definitely have those.
A glass gallon of organic milk without rBGH is pricey, over $6.00. But by making my own yogurt, the cost of that milk-turned-yogurt becomes ($6.00/24 yougurt parfaits) $0.25, a bargain! Add the frozen fruit at $0.14 and I have a $0.39 yogurt parfait. The great thing is that I can use any fruit that I have in the house, especially ones that need to be used up - chopped apples and cinnamon, bananas and chocolate sprinkles, fresh strawberries on sale, raspberries from the garden.