Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Have you ever finished loading the dishwasher only to look under the sink (or wherever it is you keep the detergent) and discovered that you’re out? That happens to me on occasion, and with the help the internet, I’ve developed a pretty reasonable substitute.

This isn’t a detergent that you can “make” a whole batch of and keep on hand because it’s only 3 ingredients, and two of them are wet. So whenever I need to rely on it, I just do it right in the detergent cup of the dishwasher. It’s so simple, and works great!

First, fill up your detergent cup with baking soda. This handy leavener of baked goods is fabulous for cleaning because it’s so abrasive. If you have a really tough item that needs cleaning, mix a lot of baking soda with a tiny bit of water to make a paste and scrub away! I used that to get all the caked-on stuff off of my kids’ high chair, and that humble wood chair has lasted through 3 kids thanks to this cleaning method. So yeah, add it to the detergent cup to help get all the bits of food off your dishes.

Next, add a splash of acid. It doesn’t really matter what; I’ve had success with lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar (not at the same time). These ingredients give you a bit of disinfectant in your wash.

The final thing to add is a couple of drops of Dawn (or whatever dish soap you keep at your sink). It’s really important not to use more than 1-2 drops because that soap isn’t designed for the dishwasher. If you were to use it in lieu of dishwasher detergent on its own, you’d be living in a sitcom because your kitchen would be covered in suds! But by using just a drop or two in this recipe, there’s not enough to make bubbles and cause problems. This ingredient gives you the degreasing power you want for really clean dishes.

That’s it! I love knowing how to do this so that if I’ve run out of the “real” stuff I’m not stuck handwashing all of the dishes until I can get to the store.


Weekly Meal Plan: September 2-8

We have decided to work harder toward eating more whole foods, and this means I needed to find some new recipes. Places like All Recipes are good for finding “standard American diet” recipes, but not that great when you want to cook with foods mostly found on the perimeter of the grocery store – where the “healthy” foods traditionally live (this isn’t a hard and fast rule, of course, just a general one). Because it’s a  new month, it seemed like a great time to kick start the new meal plan into high gear, so I spent a couple of hours earlier this week searching out new recipes. The trick was that when I did a Google search for “creative whole foods recipes,” every single link (on the first page) was from Whole Foods market. That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. So I tried again, this time with “creative real foods recipes.” I was glad to find two blogs pretty high up on the list this time, both with loads of delicious looking recipes using only real ingredients. I’m not at a place just yet to tackle homemade mayonnaise or marinara sauce (but I do plan on making those jumps in the next six months or so), so I’ll still use the processed versions of some foods, but even so… I’m glad to be making some changes now. I want a healthier me and a healthier family. Fortunately, Will’s on board too 😉

So, with that in mind, here’s what we’ll be eating this week (Wednesday [today] through next Tuesday). I’ve opted to have the list of meals separated into “Lunches” and “Dinners” but not to assign each one a specific day. This allows me to keep the feel of the daily shopping we used to do but without the stress of starting completely from scratch and having to figure out and shop each day what we’ll need. I’ll just pick the lunch and dinner for the day from the list, knowing that we’ll have the ingredients on hand.


Chicken Salad Sandwiches on whole grain bread with pear slices (twice)

Healthy Chicken Nuggets, served with homemade ranch dip, bananas, and baby carrots

Bagel Cheese Pizzas, served with apple slices (twice) (whole grain bagels, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese, broiled until the sauce bubbles and cheese melts)

Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps with baby carrots and homemade ranch dip

Healthy Chicken Parmesan Nuggets, with marinara for dipping, apple slices, and baby carrots


Garlic Thyme Slow-cooker Chicken with steamed, smashed butternut squash and corn

Chicken Parmesan served over steamed zucchini sticks with marinara sauce

Peach Chicken in the slow-cooker with rice and green beans

Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple Beef with couscous

Moroccan Chicken with Nectarine Sauce with rice and steamed carrots

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf with smashed potatoes and lightly sauteed apples

Sweet and Spicy Chicken with Rice and steamed broccoli

Whew! This will be an interesting week, food-wise for us. What are you eating?


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Weekly Meal Plan: June 15

It’s been a while since I’ve done of these posts, but that’s because things have prevented me from shopping weekly the past few weeks. But today’s the day we’re back at it!

It’s hot here, so I’m trying to utilize recipes that won’t require the use of the oven this week. I’ve included a couple of slow-cooker recipes, and we’ll be grilling at least once. The rest of them will be exclusively stove-top recipes.

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

Monday (today): We went to Chipotle for lunch because Will had a craving. For dinner, we’ll have take and bake pizza since it’s grocery shopping day. By the time I do the week’s shopping, I don’t typically have any interest in then coming home and cooking.

Tuesday, lunch: Sandwiches
               Dinner: Taco Salad

Wednesday, lunch: Chicken Caesar Pita Pockets
               Dinner: Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken, rice, broccoli

Thursday, lunch: Stroganoff
               Dinner: Grilled Steak with corn on the cob

Friday, lunch: Sandwiches
               Dinner: Mushroom Pork Chops, potatoes, zucchini

Saturday, lunch: Sandwiches
               Dinner: Waffles (maybe French toast…), sausage links, and eggs

Sunday, lunch: Spaghetti
               Dinner: Salisbury Steak, red potatoes (boiled and lightly mashed), green beans

I’m linking up this post with Becca at C Family of 6 this week. If you need more inspiration for your own meal plan, head on over there for lots of meal plans from different families.


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How I Schedule and Plan our Meals

meal planning

I’ve been writing the past few weeks about our weekly meal plan and how it’s a new thing for me to shop weekly instead of daily. (I know I haven’t shared meal plans in a couple of weeks now. That’s due to a number of factors, but we’re back on track for eating at home this week, so I’ll post a meal plan later this week or early next.) For anyone else in a similar situation, I thought I’d share how I do it. It’s not revolutionary, but it might just be a way to nudge you in the direction of making a similar move.

The first thing I do is make a list of 14 meals (7 lunches and 7 dinners). These are in no particular order, and they may or may not be something we’ve eaten in the past. My favorite places to go for recipes are AllRecipes.com, my copy of Supermarket Healthy, or to blogs that I know post menu plans (Homemaking Organized and Confessions of a Homeschooler, usually). When choosing recipes, I select things that are based on items we have on hand already (staples or ingredients that didn’t get used during a previous week) or that are budget-friendly. For example, we eat more chicken than beef because chicken (even boneless, skinless breasts) cap out at about $3 a pound, whereas beef (even ground beef with a high fat content) starts at $4-5 a pound. If this is different where you live, by all means, go by what’s best for your budget in your area.

Next, I go through my list and decide which meal we’ll eat on which day. This is usually just a random thing, unless something sounds especially good. That item will get put near the beginning of the week. Once the menu is made (and I just do this on regular notebook paper), I start making my list.

For the list, the first thing I do is go through the menu and write down all the meat we’ll need. This is often the base of the meal. I put all of those items on the upper-left of my notebook paper. If a certain kind of meat is used in more than one meal, I put that number in parentheses. After the meat is figured out, I go through the menu one item at a time, thinking through all the ingredients needed for each dish. If we don’t have them on hand, I write the ingredients on my list, in categories: produce, bulk, deli/dairy/frozen, and aisles (including the bakery).

When I get to the store, I follow my list by department,  not by the exact order I’ve written it down. The way our store is organized, I first hit the produce, then bulk, meat, deli/dairy/frozen, and finally the aisles on my way to the checkout line. The bakery is last; I don’t want want to squish my bread underneath all that produce and canned food! Following this method, it takes me about an hour to complete the shopping for the whole week.

After this is all done, the hard part commences: putting it all away at home!

Do you have a special method for planning and shopping for your family’s meals?


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Weekly Meal Plan: March 15

meal plan 3.15

Hello! I’ve got a book review and giveaway (my first!) for you tomorrow, so I’m posting our meal plan on Sunday again this week.

We did okay at eating in last week. We ended up going out a couple of times – and then remembered why we eat at home. (Hint: it’s all about the money!) The chicken and wild rice soup didn’t end up happening; I didn’t look at the recipe early enough that day to allow proper time to cook the soup, so we just had roasted chicken and pasta with Parmesan cheese that night instead. Other than that, we did pretty well on our meal plan 🙂

Here’s what’s on the docket this week: [Read more…]

Weekly Meal Plan: March 8

march 8 menu

I have a lot of posts planned for this week already, so I’m posting our meal plan today (Sunday) instead of Monday like normal this week.

We did pretty good at eating at home last week.We ended up grabbing pizza one day for lunch; ironically, it was the day I’d scheduled French bread pizza. But Will wanted to go to the pizzeria, so we did that instead. The kids and I had the French bread pizza (in lieu of grilled cheese sandwiches) the next day for lunch while Will was gone.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week: [Read more…]

Weekly Meal Plan: Week of March 1

Another Monday, another meal plan. I don’t have a picture this week (I’m sure you guys are tired of looking at the same meal every time!), but I’ll try to have a good one for next week from one of this week’s meals.

Before I get to the menu, here’s how we did last week. [Read more…]

Weekly Menu: February 22

meal plan feb 22

The weekend got away from me a bit, and today (Monday) was full of errands, so I barely got the meal plan written out and shopped for in time for dinner tonight, much less in time for a blog post this morning. But I did get it done, and we’ll be right on track this week. This will make 4 consecutive weeks of weekly shopping, and I must say: I am loving it!

I think I’d like to do a report on how we did last week, too, since I mentioned that posting this here is as much for my own accountability as it is for something you might find helpful.

Last week, we ate out (unplanned) once. We had some errands to take care of, and since the boys had Pizza Hut Book-It coupons, we went there for lunch. But we went on Tuesday, which is the day Pizza Hut has two pans of pasta and five breadsticks for $10, so it was a fairly painless dining out excursion. On top of that, I had a last minute change late in the week to what I’d planned. Nothing that caused us to eat out, thank goodness, just a shift from the planned meal. [Read more…]