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Whose Kids Know How to Turn Off Lights? I got a good chuckle when I read today's first reader tip from "Dad." For a split second there, I could hear my own father asking the age-old parent/child question: Don't you know how to turn off the light when you leave the room? MOTION SENSOR …Read more. Of Pet Accidents and Malfunctioning Keurig Machines Dear Mary: I saw in your column a long while back an article about the carpet scrubber (was it Bissell?) and poo-pooed it at the time. Now I am ready to cry UNCLE since I discovered to my horror that one of my cats was shut in a bedroom and peed on …Read more. Best Holiday Gifts for Grandparents As far as gifting seasons go, the biggest one of all is just around the corner. The longer you wait to make or buy gifts, the fewer options you'll have. Last minute shopping is a surefire way to run up mountains of unintentional debt. Been there, …Read more. Solutions for Stains on Shirts and Windows, Too From time to time I reach into the proverbial EC mailbag and pull out a few of your questions to answer here. My goal is to select questions I believe the answers to which will have a wide appeal. But I can tell you for sure that when the question …Read more.
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Secret Recipes To Prepare You for Anything


I'll let you in on a little secret. I am a perpetual planner. Don't take that to mean that my plans are formal documents or that I implement all of them. It's just that I always am thinking about what I would do if this or that were to happen. Whenever I fly, I'm in crash-ready mode. I dress, select my seat and count the rows to the closest exit all with disaster in mind. I plan ahead for what I'll do if the sour cream I need for a recipe doesn't happen to materialize in the refrigerator. What if I'm at a mountain retreat for a crafting getaway and I run out of white glue?

Just this morning, I found myself wondering what I'd do if, by some catastrophic event, I became allergic to commercial toothpaste. Or what if the price of shampoo skyrocketed because of a global shortage? Aha! I wasted no time to figure out a plan for both. And who knows? With the way prices are going up and disposable income is going down, I might implement those plans sooner than later.

Here are a few of my favorite do-it-yourself recipes, including (you guessed it) toothpaste and shampoo!


6 teaspoons baking soda

1/3 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons glycerin

15 drops peppermint or wintergreen extract

Mix baking soda, salt, glycerin and mint extract together to form a paste. Store in a container you can get a toothbrush into. Glycerin is available in most pharmacies and health food stores.


1/4 cup grated Castile soap

1/4 cup hot water

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons glycerin

5 drops essential oil, any scent (optional for fragrance)

In a small bowl, stir the grated soap into the hot water until dissolved.

Add the olive oil, glycerin and essential oil, e.g., lavender, peppermint or citrus. Store in an appropriate container with a lid.

—Ant bait

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking yeast

1/2 cup molasses

3-by-5-inch index cards

Mix sugar, yeast and molasses in a small bowl. Spread a thin layer of the mixture on index cards with a knife or spatula. Place cards, syrup-side up, in areas where ants are a problem. This application is safe and nontoxic.

—White glue

1 1/2 cups cold water

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 cup cornstarch

Mix 3/4 cup water, syrup and vinegar in small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. In separate small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 3/4 cup cold water. Add the cornstarch mixture slowly to the syrup and vinegar mixture. Stir constantly. Let stand overnight before using.

I have compiled an entire booklet of recipes and formulas for everything from all-purpose cleaners and car wash solutions to play dough and all kinds of health and beauty products, too. The revised edition of "Cheapskate Solutions" has been expanded to more than 60 pages and is now available as a PDF download for only $1.99. Just go to and click on "Bookstore." Enjoy!

Mary Hunt is the founder of and author of 18 books, including her latest, "Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?" You can e-mail her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
I was just reading in our newspaper thre recipe you hasve for 3-packets & a roast.

I beg to differ with you on this recipe. This is a very unhealthy recipe. The socium contest is not good for adults or children. Anybody that already has high blood pressure should not use this recipe. Dry packets of food in the country are most salt & should not be eaten by anyone with health issues. Thanks for listening.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Peggy Hellyer
Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:24 AM
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