Many people know that yogurt can be made pretty easily in the crock pot. That yogurt can be turned pretty easily into cream cheese, which my kids and I will eat plain during the day while we graze.
We were running low on whey, a by-product of making cream cheese, so it was time to make cream cheese again. A CVS opened up near us, and we got a coupon in the mail, $10 off an order of $20 or more. I got six gallons of whole milk for $10.49. We have state regulated milk prices, so this is a rare deal. You don't need whole milk for this; you can use raw, skim or even powdered milk.
I use a whole gallon, but I've included the timing for a half gallon, which I found here.
1) Pour a gallon of milk into the crock pot, cover, and turn it on low for three hours, two and a half hours if you only use a half gallon.
2) Turn off the crock pot and let it sit, covered, for three more hours.
3) Add a cup of yogurt and stir it in with a whisk and cover. Make sure you use plain yogurt with live active cultures.
4) Wrap a heavy blanket around the entire crock pot and let sit eight to twelve hours; overnight is good.
Now you have yogurt!
At first, it will be the consistency of a yogurt smoothie. If you're into that, throw some it in the blender with some fruit and a sweetener. I always take some of the freshest yogurt and fill the original yogurt cup with it. It goes into my freezer for next time I want to make yogurt.
If you want a thicker consistency, put some cheesecloth or a loosely-woven fabric over your pasta strainer. Put the strainer in a pot to catch the liquid and put the yogurt on the cloth in the strainer. Keep refrigerated.
The liquid that collects in the pot is whey. It is considered precious in my household. It can be substituted for milk in many recipes, like pancakes and muffins. It is good for fermenting grains and fruits and vegetables. It is super nutritious. Don't throw it away. Play with it.
Now the yogurt is about to go through some changes as the whey seeps out. After a few hours, you will have a thicker yogurt, like store bought regular yogurt. If this is what you want, put it in a container to use.
A few hours later, you will have an even thicker yogurt, like Greek yogurt or sour cream. I put some of this aside to put on our tacos as sour cream.
A day or so later, if left to strain, the yogurt will have a dip or spread like consistency. You can mix it with some herbs, oregano or chives are good, and spread it on crackers. You can also put cinnamon and stevia in for a sweet spread.
A few days after that, if left to strain, the yogurt will be real thick, like cream cheese. It is slightly more tart than store-bought cream cheese, but not tart like plain yogurt. I save a little out to make creamy quesadillas, and the rest we munch on with a spoon.
The quantity I get is hard to measure. I get a gallon of smoothie like yogurt, and probably three quarts of regular yogurt, so those are definitely a better deal than their store bought equivalent. But I get a much smaller quantity of cream cheese. Since I usually can't leave the yogurt alone through each of it's stages, I don't actually know how much cream cheese I could end up with, but I'm pretty sure it's a better deal than store bought, especially since it gives me my precious whey.