Homemaking 4 My Guys

Thoughts on Homemaking, Saving Money, Faith, Family & A Life Worth Living

Archive for the tag “Economical”

Jen’s Marinara Sauce

My friend Jen is half Italian.  She learned how to make this marinara sauce from her family.  It is amazing.  I like to use it not only for pasta dishes like spaghetti and lasagna but also as pizza sauce.  Jen uses this with her meatballs (which are widely known and coveted in our community) for meatball subs.  
Thanks to her hubby,Brook, for allowing us to share in wealth while watching football.  You’re a jewel too.  Love ya friends.
It is very economical to make.  Much cheaper than purchasing pre-made sauce, better for us and quick as a lick….
Keep it handy, you will absolutely love it!!!   Printable version here: Jens Marinara Sauce
1 Jumbo can Tomato sauce (restaurant size from Sam’s Club or Costco)
Minced garlic (to taste)
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon Olive oil, divided
1 or 2 large cans tomato paste
1 large onion
Basil (to taste)
parsley (to taste)
1. Pour tomato sauce in large pot or crock pot.
2. Sauté garlic in 1  teaspoon olive oil in pan.
 3. Once garlic is tender add garlic to sauce then add tomato paste to pan garlic was cooked in and sauté until sauce is orange.
4. Add tomato paste to sauce in pot and mix well.
6. Blend in 2 tbsp. olive oil.
7. Peel outer skin of onion and cut ends off.  Float onion in large pot of sauce.
 8. Add basil, parsley, olive oil, and paste/garlic mixture to large pot and simmer for a while or overnight.
Place marinara sauce in containers,  freezer.  Use as needed.

Pods for the Dishwasher

b101-dishwasher-podsHere is the recipe for some homemade dishwasher pellets.  The recipe is from http://www.budget101.com/myo-household-items/homemade-dishwasher-pellets-3916.html  She states this recipe ends up costing her $.02-$.03 per pellet or pod.  That is quite a savings.

I have listed the recipe here, however if you click on the above link, it will show you step by step pictures.  I love how she shares that if you do not want to make the entire batch all at once, you can store the powder for the next time you are running low.  Sweetness!!

If you I do not use a dishwasher so I have not made them but I have friends who have and love them.    Enjoy……..

From Budget 101

Recently I started noticing how much money I was spending on dishwasher detergent, especially the pods or pellets. Brand-name pellets ranged from a low of 2.98 to 6.29 for 20 pellets on a recent visit to the grocery store. That’s when I decided to make my own.

Materials and supplies:
2-gallon bucket
measuring cup
large glass mixing bowl
3 – 16 cube plastic ice cube trays

1 – 54-55 oz box of washing soda / detergent booster (3.89)
1 – 76 oz box of borax (4.49)
1 – 2 lb carton of epsom salts (.99)
1 – bottle reconstituted lemon juice (32 oz for .99)
$10.36 for over 300 pellets

I used a 2 gallon bucket to mix the following dry ingredients;
1-54 oz box of washing soda (you can substitute a box of White King Detergent booster (no chlorine or phosphates) for the washing soda)
1-76 oz box of Borax
1- 2 lb carton of epsom salts

I measure out 2 to 2 1/2 cups of the mixture into a large glass mixing bowl and add lemon juice a a tablespoon at a time and stir until it begins to clump. It will fizz a little bit but not very much. If you squeeze the clumps between your fingers it will feel slightly sticky.

Place enough to loosely fill each of the ice-cube molds in a plastic ice cube tray (you will need 3 trays with sixteen molds per tray.

Put on disposable glove or cover your thumb with a thin plastic shopping bag (this is very drying to your skin) and press the damp mixture into the mold until it is level in each mold. The tops of the molded pellets should be moist and slightly sticky.

Put them in the back seat of your car in direct sun – it will take several days to dry out depending on the temperature and humidity. (Do not microwave – it will prolong the drying time and the cubes will stick, do not put them in your oven – the trays might melt) You could also use a food dryer, or if it is summer set them on a table in the sun. We have very low humidity in the Central Valley, so I often set the trays on the trampoline when it is not in use. I bring them in at night as the dew re-wets the cubes.

They are ready to tap out of the trays when they pull away from the sides of the mold.

If you haven’t tamped your cubes down firmly, some will crumble. Don’t worry about it. Crumble up the cube and let it dry until it is like a clod. They grind it in a mortar, put into a shaker bottle. This is the best abrasive cleaner that I’ve found. A little sprinkle (takes very little), hot water, wait a few minutes until the
detergent starts to dissolve, then use a rag to scrub. My broiler pan came clean so easily.

Also, if you are making just 48 pellets at a time, what do you do with the powder that’s left? I asked for a large empty whey powder container and stored the extra powder there.

From what I can figure, it costs me about three to four cents per dishwasher pellet.

You should use some lemon juice as a rinse aid in your dishwasher to avoid spots.b101-dishwasher-pods

Wool Dryer Balls

Here is a really awesome idea I cannot wait to try.  For the cost of a skein of wool yarn and a drop or two of essential oil you can eliminate the cost of fabric softener or dryer sheets.  This comes from One Good Thing By Jillee

How would you like to never buy another fabric softener product again AND cut your laundry drying time in half???

Would you believe me if I told you these little woolen gems can do that?

Wool Dryer Balls save you moneyenergy and time by cutting the dryer’s drying time and by eliminating the need to buy softeners. When you use 4 balls in your dryer, you can cut your dryer time by 25-50%!


The balls circulate and separate the clothing and get the warm dry air right down to the core of the laundry load! The more balls you add, the faster the drying time. They also soften your clothesthrough gentle friction of the felted wool fibers against your clothing fibers. And as if that weren’t enough…..they LAST for YEARS!

They couldn’t be simpler to make (all you need is some wool yarn, and a pair of pantyhose) and I just LOVE howPRACTICAL they are! I actually think these would make a wonderful gift! (Making mental note.)


Start with a skein of 100% WOOL yarn. (This cost me about $5 and I got four balls out of it.)


To start your ball, wrap the yarn around your fingers about 20 times and then slip it off and wrap the yarn around the middle of that circle you just made about 20 more times.

wool dryer balls

Now pinch the beginnings of your yarn ball together and keep wrapping! Make sure you wrap it nice and tight.  Pretty soon you will have something that looks like this. Tuck the end of the yarn under some of the other strands of yarn to secure.

Repeat above steps until you’ve made 4 or more balls.

Now you are ready to give them the “felting” treatment. You are going to need one leg ofwool dryer balls a pair of pantyhose or tights. Put the first ball into the toe of the pantyhose and secure it there with a piece of embroidery floss or acrylic yarn. Do NOT use wool yarn, you don’t want this to felt.

Toss the pantyhose “snake” into the washer (the hotter the water the better) and then into the dryer (again, the hotter the better. Speeds up the felting process.  After the first felting. The fibers have fused and it’s much smoother and tighter.

At this point you can do another layer of yarn and “felt” again if you want a larger sized ball. I chose to leave mine as is. Keep in mind they will get slightly smaller over time as they continue to felt.


You just made your own wool dryer balls! Go ahead, give them a spin! If you want, you can even add a couple of drops of essential oil to the balls before you throw them in the dryer. I used 1 – 2 drops of lavender on each one and my clothes came out smelling sooooooo nice!!!  I think the scent should last through several loads!

Chicken Pot Pie

chicken pot pieHere is a chicken pot pie recipe I have made for years, thanks to my awesome mom.  I grew up eating this yummy dish.  It is so very economical to make and super easy.  Like many of the recipes I share, this can so easily be doubled or tripled and put in the freezer for another time, making your life a little less stressed on a busy day 🙂

Chicken Pot Pie (printable version)

Chicken Mixture                                                                  Biscuit Mix

  • Pre-cooked shredded chicken                           1 1/2 c. flour
  • Potatoes, cubed and par-boiled                        1/4 c. shortening
  • Diced Onion                                                          2 tsp. baking powder
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables                                  2/3 c. milk
  • Chicken Broth                                                      1/2 tsp. salt
  • Corn Starch/Water                                              chopped onion, (opt.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat broth and thicken with cornstarch

Biscuits:  Mix all ingredients together and water mixture.  Add all ingredients gently.  Place on a floury Heat thoroughly.  Place in a greased pan.   Place on a lightly floured surface.  Pat to approx. 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut out biscuits.  Place on top of hot chicken mixture.

If you prefer, you can always top with a pie crust.  My family just happens to love to pour the chicken mixture of the fluffy biscuits.

Bake at 425 º for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Pineapple Teriyaki Crock Pot Chicken

If you love Chinese food, you will love this amazingly simple and economical meal from Jillee at http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com.  My family is not big on Chinese food so I did not connect the taste to being nearly the same as Sesame Chicken (minus the sesame seeds) like my friend Brenda did.  Thanks Bren.

As you will see this is an amazing simple recipe.  I have altered it a bit.  I use pre-cooked shredded chicken breapineapple-teriyaki-chicken-1st meat.  I mix all ingredients up and cook in the crock pot for a couple of hours.  It could also be done in the microwave or on the stove top.   Either way, this recipe is super simple to double/triple and throw in a zip lock bag and store in the freezer for another day.

Pineapple Teriyaki Crock Pot Chicken


  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. (Jillee skipped this step, she put in whole chicken breasts.)

Add chicken and the other ingredients into your slow cooker. Stir.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until chicken is tender and falls apart.

That is literally all there is to it. If you prefer a thicker sauce, transfer to a small sauce pan and boil with flour or cornstarch until reduced to desired thickness.

Serve over rice.


$$ Saving Tips

Money Saving Tips

  • Make a monthly menu plan
  • Shop loss leader items
  • Stock up on sales
  • Make your own laundry soap and cleaning products
  • Cook and de-bone your own chicken breasts in a crock pot.  Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery and whatever herbs you like and make great healthy stock at the same time
  • Prepare your own mixes: spices, biscuit/Bisquick, muffins, cookie dough, marinara sauce
  • Blanch/freeze diced vegetables once a month for economical, fast and healthier options when cooking.
  • Buy meats on last sale date, big savings
  • Buy cheese in bulk store, grate in food processor and freeze (much cheaper and healthier than buying pre-shredded)
  • Share a membership to a warehouse store with a friend.  Every membership has two access cards.  Split the cost and reap the savings.
  • Make it a practice to double  your recipes and put 1/2 of each in the freezer for another day.
  • Get together with some friends and each of you make a few of the same recipe and then swap them out so everyone takes home a few new dishes to try.
  • Shred zucchini in the summer and fall months, bag and freeze for making breads, muffins and cakes with in the winter and spring.  Do the same for bananas as the start to brown for same purpose.
  • Got picky eaters, cook vegetables and them puree them with the some of the liquid cooked with and pour into ice cube trays.  Once froze, place in freezer storage bag.  Add to recipes and your loved ones will be none the wiser but will receive the nutritional value.
  • Take chicken broth from cooking chicken in crock pot and place in ice cube trays.  Once froze place in storage bag/container.  You will always have broth at the ready that is health and very low in sodium but high in flavor.
  • Cook big batches of rice and place in containers and freeze.  You can pull it out and thaw before usage.  A great time saver.  DOES NOT WORK WELL FOR PASTA.
  • Precook hamburger with onions, garlic and peppers, then freezer in serving size baggies/containers for quick usage.
  • Grow your own vegetables/herbs either in a garden or in containers
  • Turn the heat down when not at home or at night
  • Sign-up for daily updates on free or reduced e-books (if you are a Kindle app reader) my favorites are http://www.gospelebooks.net and http://www.vesselproject.com for Christian books.


Homemade Laundry Soap

cutecolorschores7Homemade Laundry Soap
I started making homemade laundry soap about two years ago.  It is so easy to make, takes about 10 minutes, and so very economical.  I wonder why I did not start sooner.
Here is the recipe:
1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha Soap, shredded or grated
1/2 cup Armor Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
Essential oils (for scenting, if you like)
Containers for storage
A 2 gallon bucket (or whatever you have handy at home)
Get out your biggest stock pot, add shredded Fels-Naptha and 6 cups of water.  Heat until soap melts completely.  Add the washing soda and borax.  Stir until they are dissolved then remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups of hot water into your soap mixture and stir.  I take my soap mixture and split it into my two ice cream buckets.  Then I add the additional water (the 1 gallon and 6 cups), again dividing evenly between the two buckets.   I then add my essential oils (I like Young’s Living Essential Oils, I add a couple of drops of Thieves and a couple of Citrus Blend).
Your containers can be re-purposed (old) laundry soap containers, gallon glass/plastic jars, or ice cream buckets (my personal choice).
This will make two gallons of soap, 64 loads.  You will use 1/2 cup per load.
Let this soap set for 24 hours before using.  It will be a watery gel.  It has been described as an “egg noodle soup”look.  The soap is a low sudsing soap.  So if you don’t see suds, it is okay.  Suds are not what cleans, it is the ingredients in the soap.
Here is the cost:
Laundry Soap Ingredients, from my local Wal-Mart
Fels-Naptha                                              (1/3 bar)         $ .33
Washing Soda                                         (1/2 cup)          $ .25
Borax                                                           (1/2 cup)         $ .18
Total for a 2 gallons    (64   –  1/2 cup portions)      $ .76
$ .76 divided by 64 —              ($.011875 )                     $.01
$ .01 per load
Total Initial Cost  for all products       $8.18 
Let me show you the savings-
If you purchased 4 bars of the Fels Naptha Soap, a box each of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and Borax at a total cost of $ 11.09 this would make you 10 full size batches with extra ingredients (Fels-Naptha and Borax) left.  
Fel-Naptha $.97 x 4 $3.88
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda $3.24  
 Borax $3.97 


Chicken, Black Bean and Mixed Rice Casserole

cutecolorschores5We discovered this recipe not to long ago and love it.  It is quick to prepare and very filling.  I cook my own dry beans then freeze them, I make my own rice mix, and cook bone in chicken breasts and then de-bone and freeze them.  This combination makes this meal very economical to make.  

Chicken Black Bean and Rice Casserole (printable version)

1 c. long grain rice and 1/2 c. wild rice (or 1 box long grain & wild rice mix-do not use seasoning packet)
3 c. water
1/2 c. green pepper, chopped
1/2 c. red pepper, chopped
1/2 c.  onion, chopped
1 tsp. butter
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 c. cooked chicken breasts
1/2 c. peas
1/2 c. whole kernel corn
2 c. or 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. mushrooms, sliced (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Add rice and water to saucepan.  Cook until tender. 

Add butter, peppers, onions, Italian seasoning and mushrooms (if using) to a skillet.  Cook  over medium heat until mushrooms are wilted and onions are vegetables are tender and excess moisture is gone, approx. 5-8 minutes. 

Add rice, onion & pepper mixture, chicken, corn, peas, sour cream and 1 cup cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon into a 2 qt. casserole dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350® until hot, about 30 minutes. 

Makes 8 main dish servings.

Serve with a crisp lettuce salad some warm garlic herb bread.

I frequently double this recipe and put extras in a storage bag in the freezer for a quick and handy meal on a busy day. 


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