Let’s take a step out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. What does this have to do with healthy eating? Eating from scratch can, at times, be more expensive than eating processed foods. It is certainly not more expensive all the time…many times, it is far cheaper, especially if you watch for sales and stock your freezer with food you bought at a discount.
Nevertheless, the truth remains that, at times, it can be more pricey. But, this really shouldn’t mean that it cannot be done, which is what many jump to concluding: “Well, it’s more expensive, so we can’t do that.” It is really a matter of whether it is a priority to you or not. I hear people tell me they cannot eat more healthy because it is more expensive… while they are drinking a $4 latte from Starbucks. The truth is, if you learn to tighten your budget in various areas, you will find the extra funds to go toward buying high quality food. And tightening the budget doesn’t have to be a chore. It can actually be fun!
For example, I will confess to enjoying my fair share of Starbucks coffee drinks back in the day. But, with a $10 stove top espresso maker, a $10 hand pumped milk frother, and figuring out how to make my own low sugar, nutritious coffee creamer (yes, I will post this eventually), I can now make a much healthier coffee drink that tastes fabulous for about 90% less cost than my old Starbucks drinks. And it’s fun to make!
Likewise, I’ve learned to make my own body scrub to moisturize my skin, my own household cleaners, including my own anti-bacterial kitchen cleaner, and even my own laundry detergent. I spend about $12/year on laundry detergent, and it works just as well as the name brand version I used to buy. These changes have opened a significant amount of room in my budget to go toward groceries. As a continuation of these efforts, I considered attempting to make my own body wash and shampoo. I read a lot of different ways of doing it. Some were actually more expensive, and their purpose was to go all natural in the shower regardless of price. I’m all for going natural as much as we can, but my mission was to save money. Others were very cheap, but had no lather…what fun is a shower with no suds! There just had to be a medium point between these two extremes that would work well, but be very easy on the budget. After some researching and experimenting, I believe I found that medium point.
Homemade Body Wash
I made body wash that is about a 70% savings from the generic brand I used to purchase, and I actually like it better than my old body wash…it suds up better than the commercial brand! Even better, this method allows you the freedom to choose a soap that will suit your preference.
This body wash only requires 3 ingredients:
- Soap bars
- Grape seed oil (or another oil of your choice)
I used Dial’s antibacterial soap because it was on sale and a couple of bars of Zest that I’d had lying around in my apartment for ages when I made my large batch, but any bar soap will do. Pick what you like and fits your budget. Grate the soap using a cheese grater (or better yet, a vegetable slicer on your food processor or whatever you may have…I used the vegetable slicer attachment to my Kitchen Aid mixer). I read in one place that you can melt the soap in the microwave instead of grating it. Perhaps with some brands this is possible, but when I tried this with the Dial soap, it just enlarged into a weird, marshmallow-y mush that would not melt into the water in the next step. So, you can try the microwave with your brand and see if it will work to skip the grating.
For each bar of soap you are using, add around 2-3 cups of water to a large sauce pan and heat to boiling. When it begins to boil, add the grated soap. Turn the heat to medium-low and let your soapy soup cook until all the grated pieces have completely melted into the water. This will take a little time, so work on something else (like maybe the shampoo!) and come back to it from time to time and stir.
Once the soap bars are completely incorporated into the water, pour the liquid into 16 oz mason jars (or a similar sized heat resistant container). It will be as thin as water…don’t worry, you didn’t do it wrong…it will thicken as it cools. To each jar add 2 Tablespoons of grape seed oil and stir (grape seed oil has lots of vitamin E, which is why I choose it, but you can use another oil if you prefer). Let the jars sit until they are thoroughly cooled. This will take a while. I let mine sit overnight.
I said “around” 2-3 cups of water above because different soap bars will require slightly different amounts. Start with 1 bar of soap and 2 cups of water to experiment with a small batch and find what works for you. If it is too thick, simply add some more water and stir it in until the body wash is the consistency you’d like. If it is too thin, pour it back into a sauce pan, re-heat it and add a little more soap. Once you have determined the soap/water ratio that works best with your brand and personal preference, you can make a large batch.
I used 2 bars of Zest and 4 bars of Dial with 20 cups of water to make a huge batch. As always, if I’m going to take the time to make something, I’m going to make a lot of it so it will be a while before I need to do it again. It takes barely more time to make a triple recipe of something (whether food or otherwise) than it does to make a single recipe. Work smart, not hard. Maximize your time and dollars and you will find this lifestyle to be quite affordable and not overbearing.
By the way, when you clean out the sauce pan, you may have some soapy film on the bottom and the sides. If so, scrape this out and place it into some saran wrap to form it into a small bar…don’t throw it away! You can allow it to rest and harden and use it during your next batch, or as a regular bar of soap.
You can store your body wash in mason jars until they are ready for use and then, transfer it to a squeeze bottle as needed (or buy several squeeze bottles and bottle it all up right then and there). I’m too lazy to do that, so I just keep a jar in the shower with a spoon and spoon it onto my loofa. Super sudsy and super cheap…yippee! I spent about $3.50 and ended up with enough body wash to last me about 5 months.
Coming up with something that would work took a lot of effort and researching. I ended up combining a couple ideas into one in order to make an affordable homemade shampoo that provided plenty of lather and would also leave my hair feeling clean and the way I like it to feel. I am EXTREMELY picky about shampoo. I do not veer from my brand…EVER. I can’t stand my hair not feeling right. So, if this homemade shampoo can make ME happy, hopefully, a lot of you will find it suits you well, too.
After using this shampoo (and the conditioner), I LOVE the way it makes my hair feel! It just feels…lighter? Softer? But, not in the soft and frizzy sort of the way. It’s hard to explain other than to say, my hair just feels better. Even when I’m wetting my hair before I add shampoo to it, I am totally amazed at how healthy my hair feels even as it’s getting wet.
It’s also very, very simple to make. Get out a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir together the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
- 3 1/2-4 cups HOT water (go with 3 1/2 if suds is super important to you)
- 5 Tablespoons baking soda
That’s it! Stir the baking soda into the hot water until it is completely dissolved. Add the castile soap. Stir it up and pour it into jars or squeeze bottles or whatever you are going to use. You want it in a container with a lid because it will need to be shook up just before use. I store mine in jars and then, pour some into a little squeeze bottle (see picture) when it needs refilled. Be sure to shake it up before each use. It does not require much to work. A little goes a long way. However, it is very thin, like water, so you will want to put it into a squeeze bottle that you can squirt directly onto your hair. But, trust me…you will get plenty of sudsy lather from it regardless of how thin it is before you scrub it into your hair and scalp. Once it is all sudsy, you won’t know the difference.
Castile soap can be found at various stores. I found mine at Target. It has various scents or no scents at all, depending on your preference.
This shampoo costs about 6 cents per ounce as opposed to my former brand, which was around 25 cents per ounce. Huge savings!
When I initially used this shampoo, I wasn’t thrilled with the way it made my hair feel right after I rinsed it. It felt totally clean, but not really conditioned. But, this problem was immediately and completely resolved by my homemade hair conditioner below, which I also used the first time I tried the shampoo.
Homemade Hair Conditioner
This is another super easy one. Get a spray bottle. Fill it 1/3 of the way full with apple cider vinegar. Fill it the rest of the way with water. Apply it to your hair after you rinse out the shampoo, rub it into your hair with your hands and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it out.
I must admit, I was very, very skeptical about this one, but I read about it in so many places and heard so many people rave about it, I decided I at least needed to try it. And it really does work! It both conditions and detangles marvelously. My hair feels great and holds volume far better than with the commercial conditioner I used to use. And don’t worry…your hair will not smell like apple cider vinegar! At just a few cents per ounce, think of the money you will save!
Homemade Feminine Wash
OK…who likes to sit around and talk about their feminine wash, right? But, we’re going to talk about it now. I, personally, have never been able to tolerate usual soaps and body washes “down there.” So, I’ve had to buy expensive feminine washes all these years.
The problem with using a lot of the commercial items made for us ladies is that many of them have all kinds of scents and other such things added to them. Girls, you’re not meant to smell like candy canes between your legs. Of course, super yucky smell is not good, either.
The female body is self cleaning. If you are using douches, etc., please discontinue. You have lots of good bacteria keeping everything in balance in there, and it is best to leave that bacteria to do what it is good at doing. Those little friends of yours are keeping fungus at bay and preventing you from suffering from constant yeast infections, among other things.
But, if you want something to keep you more on the fresh side and prevent any of the bad kind of odors, there is a very cheap and simple solution. Put a tablespoon of white vinegar into 1 cup of water. Pour this into a spray bottle. Each day in the shower, spray a few squirts onto the exterior area (exterior meaning NOT inside your vagina) and rinse. This will keep any bad bacteria from growing while not disturbing the good bacteria inside. It is natural and mild, so it should not cause any skin irritation. This will cost you less than 1 cent per ounce. Woo hoo!
Making all 3 of these at once, and utilizing the time that my soapy soup was cooking to work on the other things, I spent about 45 minutes from start to finish to make everything listed here one evening. And, during those 45 minutes, I did a couple other things around the apartment, too, such as loading the dishwasher, running the vacuum and dusting. So, this is not time consuming, it takes very little effort, and it will cut your shower costs by as much as 90%!