Tweak a Product to Your Liking

I encourage readers to be diligent about reading product labels and unit pricing. Being a smart consumer means being informed about ingredients and costs. Aubrey’s tip combines both, creating a product that her wallet likes and her tastebuds prefer.


LIGHTEN THE SOY SAUCE. My husband and I enjoy stir fry recipes and like to use low sodium soy sauce because regular soy sauce tastes too salty. We go through it pretty quickly and wanted to buy it in bulk, but none of the warehouse stores in our area carry the low-sodium version. I read the list of ingredients and discovered that low sodium soy sauce is basically soy sauce, water and caramel coloring. Now we make our own. We purchase regular soy sauce in bulk and dilute it. It might be lighter in color, but now we have soy sauce at half the cost. Believe me, I can live with the lighter color! Aubrey, West Virginia

PALMOLIVE ICE PACK. My physical therapist told me that the best and cheapest ice pack is “frozen” Palmolive green liquid dish soap. I buy the original brand and pour it into a zip-type freezer bag, and then toss it in the freezer. The liquid becomes gel-like and fits better on any part of the body. It can also be refrozen over and over. Peggy, California

A SECOND LIFE FOR STUFFED TOYS. Over the years, our children accumulated what amounted to two trash bags filled of stuffed animals. All were in like-new condition. We wanted to donate them and found out that some law enforcement officers keep stuffed toys in their vehicles to give to children who are involved in accidents or other incidents. A call to your local sheriff, city police or nearby state patrol office will let you know if they’ll accept your stuffed toys. Many agencies are grateful to get them, and some even have organized efforts that collect stuffed toys. Mary Beth, email

ERASE THE BUILDUP. I use Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to clean the bottom and sides of my iron. I use spray starch a lot and it tends to build up on the iron. I just wet the sponge and wipe the buildup right off. No more expensive iron cleaners. Brenda, Oklahoma

VINEGAR WRAP SOAKS THROUGH. I read that vinegar works well to get rid of lime buildup, so I soaked a paper towel in vinegar and wrapped it around the base of my faucet. I let it sit for a while and it completely removed the buildup. Patty, Michigan

DON’T STASH THE DETERGENT. I found a bottle of Cascade Complete liquid dishwasher detergent under my sink and used it in my dishwasher. The dishes came out covered in white film. I phoned the 800 number on the package and was told that bottle was six years old. What happened to my dishes is common when using old dishwasher detergents. Lesson learned—don’t stash dishwasher detergent! Kathe, email

Question: Have you tweaked a product, creating something you like even more? 

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7 replies
  1. k
    k says:

    Mixing two kinds of kool aid drink mix, it came out brown colored. The kids loved drinking “swamp water>” “Mom, can I have some more swamp water?” Doubling up the kool aid for lots of kids in a fun way can create some interesting memories!

  2. Whithered Belaglik Von Poobah
    Whithered Belaglik Von Poobah says:

    I like the one about donating the stuffed animals to law enforcement. Unfortunately, though, most of my kids’ plush toys looks like they’ve been through some accidents and incidents themselves!
    Interesting about the detergent. That’s a good one for extreme couponers to keep in mind (FIFO!). It wouldn’t stop me from using it, though. Some vinegar in the rinse water would probably help remove the film.

  3. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Nurse at work told me about best ever ice pack – pour 16 oz of rubbing alcohol in a zip lock bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal & put inside another zip lock bag (just in case of 1st bag leakage!) & freeze. Because it’s alcohol, it won’t freeze solid so conforms to any body shape when applied. When it starts thawing, it’s still unbelievable cold. PLEASE always make sure to have a wrap between any ice bag and your skin!!!

    • Jeanita
      Jeanita says:

      I have teen athletes and we have learned to mix the alcohol with water. It’s 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water. Works great! And yes, double bag the solution!

  4. ewb
    ewb says:

    I love Ranch dressing, but don’t want to turn my low-calorie salad into a splurge. For me, the fat-free version tastes odd, so I use the l
    ight Ranch. If I mix it with a bit of buttermilk, or even skim milk, it spreads much easier on my salad (rather like a restaurant version), and saves calories as well, while tasting delicious.


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