Tag Archives: soap nuts

How Feasible Are Those ‘Save Money’ Ideas? Part 3 – Soap Nuts

February 4, 2015

Parts 1 & 2 are about if/how I save money eating less meat and cloth diapering.

#3 Soap Nuts

I found soap nuts on a Simple Lives Thursday post a couple of years ago. I read a lot of blog posts about them and decided to try them out.

Result: LOVE them! I would recommend these to anyone! I bought a bag ($30) March of 2013 and bought another one this past September. $30 for a year and a half of laundry detergent for a family of 8 (including cloth diapers). That cannot be beat!

So it’s cheap…does it really work?

Yes! I break the soap nuts in half easily with my fingers and put 14 halves in a bag. After about 10? washes (whenever the bag is looking a little limp), I will stick the bag in a mason jar, put some water in it and shake. If the water soaps up, I use it some more, if it does not, I put it aside to dry and fill another bag with soap nut bits. They give you multiple little bags in the big bag of soap nuts.

Problems: There are two issues I have had with soap nuts.

  1. You have to find the bag.
    When switching clothes from the washer to the dryer, you have to make sure you don’t transfer the soap nut bag with the clothes. Sometimes, it is easy – it is at the bottom of the washing machine. Sometimes, it is wrapped up in a towel so as I am transferring items, I will shake them out, just in case the bag is in there.
  2. The bags are hard to open.
    After being in 10+ washes, the strings that close the bag are twisted so the bag is difficult to open – nearly impossible if wet. So, when I need a bag with new soap nuts, I just set the wet bag aside and work on opening a bag that has already dried. It is still difficult but doable.

That’s it! If you can deal with those two things, you can save a bunch on laundry detergent each year (not to mention no chemicals in your clothes and you are choosing a sustainable product).

Other people say these are issues (I disagree but thought I would mention them.)

  • Smell – or lack thereof
    Soap nuts smell like vinegar. It’s gross. However, your clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar 🙂 They come out smelling like…nothing. I am fine with that. I have a sensitive nose and do not like flowery-smelling things so I like my clothes smelling like nothing.
  • Have to use hot water
    I have heard people saying you have to wash your clothes in hot water in order for the soap nuts to soap up but that is not the case. As mentioned before, in order to see if the soap nuts are soapy, I stick the bag into a mason jar with (tap, cold) water & shake. If there are suds, I use it more. The fact that I can make suds with cold water means that I do not have to wash clothes in hot water in order for soap nuts to work.
  • Stains
    How well do soapnuts get stains out? Just as well as a typical laundry detergent, which is not too well, in my experience. I buy a spray stain remover & use that whenever needed. Soap nuts gets out regular messes and all smells though.

***We have a virus going around in our house & soap nuts took all of the blueberry throw up out of the sheets this morning, if that tells you anything about stains***

If you haven’t noticed, I highly recommend these as a wonderful way to save money and get chemicals out of your clothes!

Next way we save money…homeschooling! You may not think of homeschooling as a way to save money. After all, curriculum sets cost $200-500/student, easily. Find out how we homeschool for $10-20/student each year (more spent the first year) on my next post 🙂

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday, hoping to help someone else out who is researching this decision!


Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

July 31, 2013

I’m sticking to doing a BIG grocery trip right when my husband gets paid and then one or two little ones until the next paycheck. One pay period this month, I used ALL of the money budgeted for groceries…we had to get a lot of non-edibles (toilet paper, trash bags, etc.).

The other pay period, I had some leftover money (because we’re eating out of the garden). When I have extra money, I put it back into our ‘Garden’ fund to pay for chicken feed and more seeds to plant.

Next on the ‘Garden’ list was to buy paint for the coop but my neighbor offered some old paint he had – we mixed it up and it looks just fine 🙂 (I would say ‘great’ but we painted it…and it’s just for the chickens…so it’s fine)

Our chickens are 21 weeks old so we are expecting eggs any day now. I expect to see a LARGE difference in our grocery bill after that! After buying seeds for the garden, I am planning on saving up for a riding lawn mower. It is not easy mowing this many acres with a push 😛 Then again, we are covering it little by little with cardboard, newspaper, and mulch so maybe we won’t need a riding one afterall…we’ll see 🙂

We’re trying to eat out of the garden, as always, to save on groceries. Right now, we’re eating corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snaps, cucumbers, potatoes, and kale. Unfortunately, we ate through all of our carrot plantings (I’m continually planting more but they take quite a while to size up) and it is too hot for lettuce and a lot of kale so we are buying some of that from the store.

We are trying to keep it to a minimum and JUST eating out of the garden. It is not easy eating only what is in season when you always have the option of buying whatever you want at the store, but I think it is a wonderful practice in self control and a wonderful nature lesson as well 🙂

Here are a couple of samples of what we eat. We eat simply – mainly raw, roasted, or steamed…saves on time and ingredients 🙂

supper(Clockwise from the top: kale (from the garden) salad with apples and raisins, bean burger on homemade bread (WAY cheaper than store-bought AND much healthier), steamed snaps (garden), roasted potatoes (garden), oven fried squash (neighbor’s garden) – egg & breadcrumbs))

supper(clockwise from top: kale salad (garden – we’re in a lettuce loll, what can I say?), coleslaw (cabbage & carrots w/some mayo), baked beans made in crockpot w/maple syrup to sweeten), boiled corn (garden), steamed pole beans (garden))

In general, we don’t eat meat and limit our dairy intake so other than beans for a good protein kick, I try to load up their plates with lots of veggies! These are both my 5yo’s plate.

For the first dinner, I had to buy apples & raisins, which are already on the list as we eat a lot of fruit as well, and beans (I buy dried b/c it’s cheaper and healthier if I cook it at home).

For the second dinner, I had to buy apples, beans (dry), and cabbage. However, one cabbage goes a LONG way, since I make many batches and freeze them for future suppers. Hopefully, this will help some of you see how we can eat healthy AND not spend very much money on groceries.

Some meals, of course, are more expensive. For example, when we have stuffed shells or lasagna, I make a ricotta mix with tofu, which is not cheap…but still for that meal, I buy tofu, marinara sauce, and spaghetti squash (lasts us two meals). Not crazy expensive and hopefully, in the years to come, the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash will come out of my garden!

I always hate when people are really vague about how they save money, saying, ‘I cook everything at home’ or ‘I use coupons’ or ‘I eat from my garden’. I like specific examples. I hope this helps some of you to be able to visualize how your family can eat simply and healthily on the CHEAP. Please let me know if you would like more examples.

I’m sure I’ll hear about how your kids won’t eat anything other than nuggets or pizza or whatever. Kids aren’t going to go from eating fried, processed food to eating raw/steamed veggies overnight.

Many years ago, we began introducing our children to salads as a snack WITH Ranch dressing AND croutons! Next, we dropped the croutons. Then, a year ago, we dropped the dressing. We used to eat snaps by steaming and then putting butter in them. Now, we just steam them (no seasoning or anything). It is a process. Don’t expect things to change overnight. Work with your kids little-by-little. Get rid of all the bad food in the house. ALL.OF.IT. Be a good role-model.

By the way, we don’t eat healthy, healthy all the time. We eat pizza about twice a month. However, our pizza is with homemade, whole-wheat dough and they are veggie (kale, artichokes, cream cheese) or pineapple pizzas so again, not going crazy with money or health even when we splurge.

Another non-healthy meal we eat about twice a month is quesadillas…we eat these with guacamole (avocado, salsa, lime juice), rice (brown), salad, and refried beans (I make them from dry beans and only use a little coconut oil so they are VERY healthy but VERY tasty). We love the taste on our tongues of a splurge but their little bodies are so used to eating healthy that within 12 hours, their bodies have expelled all of the cheese they have eaten. It seems like a waste of $$ to me but, again, we enjoy it as it goes down!

Non-Food Savings

Another way we are saving on groceries each month is by not buying diapers (woo whoo!) or laundry detergent. Cloth diapering is really working out 🙂

For new readers, I bought 13 cloth diapers off of craigslist back in April with the idea that if I could use them until July, I will have broken even (cost the same as buying diapers from April until July). If I could use them past July, I would be ‘making money’! Well, it’s July and I am definitely continuing! 🙂

I bought 13 because that is how many the lady had for sale but I decided to look for more later. After 4 months of using cloth diapers, I don’t think I really need any more. We use all of them in about 2-3 days and after 2-3 days, it starts to smell so I have to wash anyway. If I had more, I would just want to wait longer and that’s just stinky 😛

I know cloth diapering is different with a newborn because the baby is changed a lot more and is different w/a toddler b/c poops are so much worse, but right now, with a one year old who still gets most of his nutrition breastfeeding, what we have is perfect 🙂

Another thing I bought back in April was Soap Nuts. It is a sustainable product and VERY economical. All of the reviews I read on them were wonderful so I ordered a large bag. If you like your clothes to come out smelling lavendery or citrusy, I suggest using essential oils because using Soap Nuts, your clothes come out smelling…like nothing…which I’m fine with. 🙂 They are incredibly easy to use and clean just as well as other laundry soaps (even on poop stains!).

I know this was a SUPER DUPER long post! If you made it to the end, Congratulations! 🙂 If you missed out on planting a garden this year, all is not lost! Go buy kale, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and carrot seeds! Depending on where you live, gardening year-round is VERY doable! You can save on your grocery bills even when it is cold and snowy 🙂

Two More Money Saving Ideas – Cloth Diapers and Soap Nuts

April 12, 2013

I was listening to some of the speakers from the Healthy Life Summit. It ran for free a coulpe of weeks ago. Now if you want to listen, you have to pay. SORRY! I didn’t know it was going to be so good or I would have told you! I’ll keep you in the loop from now on!

Anyway, I listened mostly to the sustainable farming people (Joel Salatin and the like) but for some reason, I decided to listen to a podcast about “Cloth Diapers Made Easy”. She went in depth about all the different types, the pros and cons of each type, how many you need, how frequently you will need to wash them, etc. It was very informative. She definitely made it sound a lot less intimidating!

Next step was to look on Craigslist. I found a lady who was selling pocket diapers for $5 each and inserts for $1. This is incredibly cheap! They typically run $10-24 each. I bought 13 because that is all she had and because the speaker said get enough diapers for about 3 days (we go through about 4 diapers/day and I am not going to cloth diaper at night to start off). You don’t want to go much longer between washings (because of the smell). With all of the dirty clothes seven people produce, I wash every 3-4 days anyway so this is not a problem for me.

I paid so little that if I only cloth diaper for FOUR MONTHS, I will have broken even! Now that is a no brainer! Of course, I hope it is as easy as she says and I can save about $200+ for the rest of my child’s diapering life and if I have another child, save even more! But, we’ll see. One step at a time.

April 10 13 - 0079

I used them today and he kept wetting through. When using disposable, I would only change him after each nap, after I fed him (every 3-4 hours). Yesterday, day 1 of cloth diapering, after the first nap, he had soaked through. So, I decided to change him before and after naps (every 1.5/2hrs). He was still soaking through. So, I decided to fold the pad in the front for double protection since he’s a boy. That may have worked…had he not pooped. That ended up on my shirt…with company over. yay. Any ideas? I can put two pads in but I thought people only did that at night. Any pros give me some pointers?

The second new thing I am going to try this week is Soap Nuts.

April 02 13 - 0107

I have seen many wonderful reviews about them…

  • they are sustainable
  • all natural (no chemicals)
  • CHEAP (pennies/load)
  • compostable
  • leave no smell on your clothes (even though they smell vinegary in the bag)
  • wash cloth diapers really well

I just received mine in the mail and have not used them yet but I will let you know when I do! Admittedly, the biggest draw for me was the price but all of the other things are WONDERFUL as well! 😀

What new things are you doing? Are you actively saving money?

I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday. This is where I get most of my money-saving ideas. Check it out!