Make your own soft-scrubbing cleaner
Do you have a recipe for a homemade soft-scrubbing cleaner? — Paula, Ohio
Baking soda works well to scrub surfaces. I have three recipes to share:
Lavender Scrub Cleaner
3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup powdered milk (helps make a smoother paste)
1/8 cup liquid Castile soap
5 drops lavender essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a squirt-top bottle, adding enough water to make a smooth paste. Shake or stir to mix. Apply to surface, then wipe area clean with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse well. — T.M., Indiana
2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid Castile soap
3 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
few drops essential oil (if using unscented Castile soap)
Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar. When cleaning areas such as a bathtub, spray the area with vinegar to loosen dirt, apply natural cleaner, use a loofah sponge or bath poof to scrub, then rinse with water.
Simple Scrub Cleaner
1/2 cup baking soda
enough liquid dishwashing soap or detergent to make a frosting-like consistency
5 drops antibacterial essential oil, such as tea tree oil, lavender or rosemary
Pour the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap and stir until it has a thick consistency. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, then scrub the surface and rinse. — Denise, Illinois
I want to get into menu-planning for dinners, but all the information I have found has me a bit overwhelmed. Do you have any simple menu-planning advice? — Chrissy, Florida
List your family favorites and organize them week-to-week. Keep the list handy in a notebook or on a white board, spreadsheet, calendar or index cards, or stuck on the refrigerator. Some people plan their meals around grocery store sales and coupons, what they already have in their pantry or what is in season. Consider an open menu plan to prevent boredom, or in case your schedule changes or you don’t feel like making a certain meal. You can also mix things up by introducing one to three new recipes a month, a meatless meal, planned leftovers and a few quick meals. An easy outline to follow (assuming you don’t have any dietary restrictions or food aversions) is to plan around protein such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, etc., then add a starch/grain such as bread, potatoes, pasta or rice, and fruits, vegetables and dairy.
My Frugal Village community forum has an entire section dedicated to meal planning that you’ll find helpful. Visit frugalvillage.com/forums/meal-planning.
I want to donate a box of food items, and I’d appreciate your thoughts on what should be the top priority item from among the following: spaghetti, macaroni-and-cheese dinner, mandarin oranges, barbecue sauce, biscuit mix, muffin mix, peanut butter snack crackers and Hamburger Helper. — C.H., Missouri
I would choose the biscuit mix because it’s the most versatile, but it certainly would depend on the situation. If this food box is for a family that is in crisis, I’d opt for food that doesn’t require additional ingredients in order to prepare and eat it.