Category Archives: Prudent Pantry

Making your own laundry detergent is one way to save money on an ongoing basis. The recipe basically uses three items: a soap of some sort, washing soda and borax.

The most typical type of soap used is Fels Naptha. This is an old fashioned type of soap usually found in the laundry aisle. You can also use Ivory.

Washing soda is not to be confused with baking soda; they are not the same thing! It is a white powder and its purpose is to help remove dirt and odors. The brand to look for is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. You can usually find it in the laundry section at the grocery store.

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, used as a whitener and deodorizer. The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team, this should also be found in the laundry section. That’s it! Mixed with water you can make a liquid laundry detergent or don’t add water and just have a powder form, whatever your preference. The recipe I used also called for baking soda, which is also used as a deodorizer.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

1 bar of Fels Naptha soap, shaved
4 cups of hot water to melt the soap
3 gallons of hot water
1 cup of borax
2 cups of washing soda
1 cup of baking soda
1 large container about 4-5 gallons size

Here’s what you do: 
Grate the soap into a saucepan. Add 4 cups of hot water to the pan.  Simmer on low until the soap melts completely into the water. Add borax, washing soda and baking soda to the hot water. Simmer on low until it dissolves with the soap. If the mixture is not melting, add more water if needed. Add 3 gallons of hot water to your large container.  I used a large 5-gallon bucket. Add the mixture to the hot water. Mix with a large spoon until it
completely dissolves, let cool overnight. You will notice that it turns into a thick gel.

I do have an HE washing machine so after reading numerous recommendations I will only use a small amount. This is a low sudsing detergent and should work fine! Due to the gel like consistency I read that the mixture should be stirred well each time before using. I will fill a large Mason jar or old laundry detergent bottle with 1/2 – 3/4 of the liquid mixture and the rest with water. I will shake it really well before each use and should not have any problems with my HE washer doing it this way. It smells wonderful!

This recipe was introduced to me by my sister over a year ago, the minute I tasted it I knew it was a keeper. I think this is one of the most delicious ways to enjoy Butternut Squash! The recipe was adapted from a recipe found on the web site. When my sister made it she substituted yogurt for the heavy cream and it was delicious! Enjoy!!

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Serves 6

3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 9 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons oil
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
nine sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450°F and oil a large shallow baking pan.

In a large bowl toss squash with oil until coated well and spread in one layer in pan. Roast squash in oven for 10 minutes and season with salt. Stir squash and roast 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.

While squash is roasting, in a saucepan bring milk to a simmer with rosemary. Heat milk mixture over low heat 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a measuring cup.

In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Reduce temperature to 375°F. and butter a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches.

Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish (sauce will not cover bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagne sheets, making sure they do not touch each other. Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Make 1 more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream with salt until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over cream. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagne 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagne stand 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


Linked to: RealFoodFriday 


Having an organized pantry will actually save you money by identifying what you’re using, what you’re not using and what you’ve bought in duplicate. It will allow you to take stock of your cooking habits and tells you what you should and should not buy in bulk. Do you have the habit of picking up a box of pasta every time you go to the store only to realize that you don’t eat pasta that often? To do a good job of organizing your pantry give yourself some time, a few hours where you can focus on the task and not be interrupted.

Take everything out of the pantry including food, food storage containers and junk or trash that may have accumulated. Dust the pantry, starting with the highest shelf, and then wipe down each shelf one at a time. Be sure to check for cobwebs! Line up the food items in one space so you can see everything at once. Use your kitchen table or even the floor if you have to. That way you can spot duplicates, spoiled foods and get a general idea of how much space each type of item will need. Check the expiration dates and discard those items that have expired. Ask yourself if you use that item or if it was just an impulse buy. If you don’t use it throw it out! Ask yourself if you like the item? If not throw it out or donate it to a food shelf (if the dates are still good). Organize the like food items for example cans of beans and soups, bottles of oils and vinegar, jars of spices, boxes of grains, boxes of breakfast cereal. It may take a little time but you want to have like items near each other. Invest in some boxes and containers to store those spice packets in. Trays, bins or baskets help in maintaining a clutter-free pantry. As you begin to put things back in your pantry be creative – keep all those breakfast cereals on one shelf, preferably on the lowest one, so that your children can easily access them.

Isn’t it a pleasure to see a pantry closet neat, tidy and clutter free? With all necessary ingredients within one’s reach, cooking is a snap. You can find things, sort them out and even stock up in minutes.

Once your pantry is well organized you will be able to maintain it. What’s the goal of establishing and maintaining a pantry? It’s two-fold: household convenience and protection against unexpected events. A well-planned pantry means the household will never run out of commonly used products such as toilet paper. More importantly, a pantry is a reserve against hard times. Whether it’s job loss, illness, or natural disaster, a pantry ensure that the family will continue to be fed, clean, and comfortable in the face of adversity. A beginner’s pantry focuses on convenience and contains back-up products for each storable item used in the home. The standard is simple: for each open bag, box or carton in the household, the pantry contains a second, back-up product; toothbrushes to spaghetti. A good first goal: a three-day supply of food and hygiene supplies adequate to support your family plus one additional person. More robust pantries serve additional goals. A mid-range pantry can feed a family for a period of two weeks to a month in case of emergency. This pantry includes substitutes for fresh foods, such as powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, and protein products. This pantry offers convenience and basic protection.

Regardless of what your goal for your pantry is investing in your pantry pays off in savings of time and money. So take stock of your pantry and  get organized!


This recipe has been in our family for years and years. Originally a neighbor shared it with my mom and she’s been making it ever since. When I left home it was one of my mom’s recipes that I brought with me! The recipe is very simple and you can make the basic recipe as is or add more ingredients if you want. Use any kind of nuts, I’ve made it with walnuts, pecans and sliced almonds. All are delicious. Once the granola is cooled completely you can also add a variety of dried fruits; cherries, cranberries and raisins. This recipe is easy, inexpensive, very flexible and tastes much better than anything you can find in the supermarket!

6 cups of quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/3 cup sesame seed
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Heat oats in ungreased 9 x 13 pan in 350 degree oven for ten minutes.

Combine oats, wheat germ, coconut, sesame seed and chopped nuts and stir. Combine brown sugar, vegetable oil, honey and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until coated.

Divide mixture in half. Bake half in ungreased 9 x 13 pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often to brown evenly. Cool. Repeat for other half, don’t let it get too brown or it will burn!

Store in an airtight container.

Linked To: GooseberryPatch

One of the items found in my pantry are wheat berries. Wheat berries are a true whole grain! Without these kernels there would be no flour. They are loaded with nutrients and are as easy as rice to prepare, perfect for a meal any time of the year. Did you know that raw wheat, if kept dry and free of insects, can last hundreds of years without any loss of quality or taste. Unfortunately, once wheat is ground into flour, it will last only a few days without turning rancid, which is why regular store-purchased flour is heavily bleached and full of preservatives. I started buying wheat berries more than 15 years ago even though I didn’t own a wheat grinder. I had a friend that would grind the berries for me. Eventually I purchased a wheat grinder of my own and have been happily grinding my own wheat for years.

In addition to grinding wheat berries to make flour you can also enjoy them in other ways. When they are boiled, cooked wheat berries have a chewy bite and a nutty, earthy flavor. They can be eaten as a breakfast cereal with milk and cinnamon or added to a salad or a main dish. A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron. If you Google major cooking sites like the Food Network and search “wheat berries” you’ll find at least fifty tasty suggestions that incorporate whole wheat into soups, salads, sides and main dish casseroles.

You may not be a baker but wheat berries are definitely a staple that should be in your pantry! Try serving them to your family this week. Besides grinding wheat berries for flour do you have a favorite way to enjoy them?


Perhaps you’re like me and have some dried beans on hand that you keep forgetting to use. After all it’s so much easier to open a can of beans rather than remember to soak the dried beans overnight so they’ll be ready to use in a recipe. The solution: can your dried beans using a pressure canner. Once they are canned they are ready to use for any instant meal just like a can of beans!

First cover the beans with cold water and let them soak for 12-18 hours in a cool place. Make sure the pot is large enough to allow for expansion, when I got up in the morning the lid to the pot was raised up because the beans had really expanded! Drain the beans and then cover with at least two inches of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes, stirring as needed. While the beans are boiling have some jars heating in a water bath. Pack hot beans into hot jars, leaving one inch of headspace. Add ½ tsp of salt to pints and 1 tsp to quarts, if desired. Ladle boiling cooking liquid over the beans. Leaving one inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar clean and place hot, previously simmered lids on each jar. Screw down ring firmly. Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a steam pressure canner.

This is a wonderful way to stock your pantry with beans that are ready to use for any meal. I think I’ll use them in my Black Bean Cassoulet recipe, the perfect recipe for a cold winter night. If you’re interested in this recipe please stayed tuned! I will share it when the snow is a little deeper!

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