Raising a family is expensive. The groceries, the dentist, the clothing that keeps wearing out in the knees (Logan!), the diapers, wipes, formula, trips to their numerous activities, the 8-10 loads of laundry per week (yes, that is how many we do around here), the vehicle maintenance, bills, yada yada yada. It seems never-ending. To top it all off, we are supposed to not only manage all of this, but manage it well, all the while feeding our families healthy, well balanced meals, being resourceful, creative, thrifty, etc. Well, I haven't got it all figured out but I have decided that I will change a little here and there and in the long run it'll make a difference. It's just too overwhelming to try to change everything you are used to doing, overnight. It's not going to stick. You will do great with it for, oh, a week or two, and then you're back to Kraft Dinner and hotdogs. If you want lasting change, with anything in life, you have to start small and bite off only what you can chew. I should state at this point that I have never been good at this and it is by no means mastered. However, I am fully aware that the concept is concrete. I think that's the first step :)
So today I am going to share with you my first 2 baby steps. The first one is making my own laundry soap. Don't stop reading! I know how hick this sounds, but I've been doing it for a year and a half and it's been one of the best things I've ever done! Before we were spending about 15-20 dollars a month on laundry soap, nevermind the fabric softener and stain remover, etc. In the last year and a half we have spent approximately $30 on laundry soap. Yes, I said $30. Not $130, not $530, just $30. It works great, too. I must thank my dear sister, Bonnie, for sharing this recipe with me. So following are the list of ingredients, prices, where to buy, and the recipe itself.
First you will need an empty 5 gallon pail with a lid. I use an empty paint bucket.
1 bar of Sunlight Soap (it's yellow, comes in a pack of 2 at Walmart or Superstore) $1.99 for 2 bars
1 cup of Washing Soda (comes in a blue box, 3kg, at Walmart or Superstore) about $5 for the box
1/2 cup of Borax (comes in a green box, 2kg, at Walmart or Superstore) also about $5 for the box
So, grate the bar of Sunlight soap. Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the grated soap and stir til dissolved, takes about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and dump into the clean 5 gallon pail. Measure 1 cup of Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of Borax and add to the soapy water in the pail. Stir. Fill the pail up with hot water, while stirring. Put on the lid and you're done. (unless of course you would like to add a fragrance to your soap, which you would do at this point)
The whole process takes about 10 minutes. I use about 1-2 cups of soap per load, unless the load is really dirty, in which case I would use more like 3-4 cups for a load. When you remove the lid the next day, the soap has kind of gelled and may need to be stirred again. It is still a liquid but will be kind of lumpy. You don't have to wait til the next day to use it however. I use mine as soon as I make it. It should last you at least a month or maybe 2 depending on how much laundry you do and how much you use. I still use a stain remover separately, just like I did before, for those stubborn stains like ketchup, blood, carrots, etc. One pail will cost you less than $2 to make, so it doesn't really matter how much you use. It does a fine job on my husband's work clothes and the baby's peed and pooed in stuff, so if it can clean that, it can clean anything! I have one friend who is allergic to Sunlight soap, so if this is the case, I am sure you could use another kind of bar soap, or just eliminate the bar soap from the recipe and it would still work fine.
The other thing that I started doing was making my own mayonnaise. I am doing this because it is healthier. I don't know if it actually saves me much money, but am fairly certain that it isn't more expensive. I don't make a lot at a time, as it doesn't have a year-long fridge life, like the other stuff does. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, and I usually only make half a recipe at a time. Half a recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups. Following is the recipe for 3 cups:
Blend at low speed:
2 whole eggs
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (I omit this)
1 TBSP sugar, honey, or xagave (optional)
Add, at high speed, very slowly:
2 cups safflower oil or sunflower oil.
I store mine in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. We can only use 1 1/2 cups of mayo in 2 weeks, so that is why I prefer to make a half batch. Hope you like it!
So these are just 2 little changes that I have made in the past couple years, and I don't see myself ever going back. You might not care about homemade mayo or laundry soap. Find something that would make a difference for you and look it up on the internet. I think my next project will be making my own ketchup. I haven't tried it yet, but I'll let you know when I do, how it turns out! Tell me your ideas or things that you have changed in your life for the better! I would love to hear from you!