26 November 2015

The Rule of Half

This week's Tip of the Week in the newsletter is all about stretching a half measure to do a full measure job and it's a great idea.

I dilute just about everything! Why? Because most things can be diluted up to half and still give the same excellent results.

Case in point dishwashing detergent. I buy the Tandil Ultra Dishwashing Detergent from Aldi. I buy six bottles a year and dilute each bottle 50:50 with cool water, giving me twelve bottles for the price of six - enough to last a year. I also add 500 grams of bicarb soda to the dishwashing powder to stretch it. That 1.5 kilos of powder then does 60 washes (two level teaspoons per load, and yes I measure it, there is a spoon in the detergent container).  I only need to buy six boxes of dishwasher powder a year, saving $7.20 (I buy Savings brand dishwasher powder from Coles).

Shampoo and conditioner are diluted 50:50 with water and then dispensed with a pump - one pump for short hair, two pumps for long hair.

I also “dilute” groceries: I use half the quantity of mince in a recipe and bulk it out with either rolled oats, TVP, rice or grated vegetables; I add stock to dilute soup; I add milk to salad dressing and mayonnaise; I add breadcrumbs to grated cheese in a recipe; there are so many ways you can stretch your groceries when you get creative.

Baking is diluted too. Biscuits are no more than two teaspoons of dough, rolled and flattened. I use the smaller cutter to make scones. When I make a slice, it is cut into 3cm squares; that gives me 15 pieces from one slice tray, three more serves than most recipes give.

Diluting groceries saves a lot of money, and no, it's not being mean. It is frowned upon by manufacturers and grocers (I've been told in person that they don't like me sharing the Rule of Half) - that's fine, they're not living on my grocery budget. If they were they'd be diluting too - and loving it just as much as I do.

If I dilute something and it isn't just as good then I don't bother again. But I always try because I just love getting double the groceries for half the cost.

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  1. Hi Cath, I have tried watering down shampoo, conditioner & body wash before, but I think we ended up using it just as fast as you needed to use more pumps anyway, or maybe it was too runny & would run off your hand a bit before you could use it properly. Is there any trick to how you dilute things like this, and do you dilute and use that bottle straight away, or is it best to dilute, mix and let it sit for X amount of time before use? Maybe that might help it mix in better & be more effective? Many thanks, Kelly

    1. If it's a good quality it will dilute just fine. The trick is to make sure it is really well mixed after diluting and then only use the amount you need to - even if it is a little thinner if you normally use one pump then just use one pump.

      With shampoo the secret is to have thoroughly wet hair, then enough shampoo to cover a 5 cent coin should be more than enough to get a good lather on short hair, 10 cents for shoulder length and 20 cents for long hair. Ditto conditioner.

      Body wash will go further on a sponge or tulle puff or a loofah mitt than it will on a face washer.

      If you're still using too much put pumps on the bottles and make sure everyone knows to use no more than two pumps.

      Always use cool water to dilute, and make sure the water and shampoo/conditioner/body wash is thoroughly mixed - don't just top the bottles up with water and leave them. The water will sit on the top, the product will be on the bottom and it just won't work. I put the caps back on and then tip the bottle back and forth for a good 3 - 5 minutes to make sure it's mixed. If it is properly mixed there will be very little difference in the consistency of the product when you use it.

  2. Your salad dressing and mayonnaise, are they home made, or store bought? Because the store bought ones are usually around 400mL, and I would think adding milk to that would make it go off sooner.

    On a more positive note, I dilute hand soap and put it into a foam dispenser thing. It's about 1/4 to 1/3 soap, the rest water. then put the lid on and shake it to mix. Because it comes out pre-lathered, it's easier to get it all over your hands (and check to see that it's all over your kid's hands).

    I don't dilute my dish soap (mostly because it's never occurred to me), but I did put it into a cute little bottle with a pump so I could at least be aware of how much I was using.

    1. Salad dressings and mayo are a combination of bought and MOOed - depends on what it is for as to what I use. I only dilute as I use it - so if I plan to use 1/4 cup then I mix 2 tbsp of milk into 2 tbsp mayo, or add extra cider vinegar to balsamic vinegar to a dressing and so on.

  3. Great tip Cath! This is one of those tips that really adds up to big savings!
    I also dilute vinegar 50/50 with water. Leave it for 2 weeks and then you have full strength vinegar again (though I only do this with my cleaning vinegar, not cooking).
    I make smaller muffins too and will get 14-15 instead of 12. No one notices the difference.

    1. These days I deliberately only use the regular sized cup cake papers and always get at least 15 from one recipe. Most of the time I'll use the small papers and get 18 from a recipe. I had grumbles at first but the choice is smaller or none so they've accepted smaller and now don't notice any difference. And we don't really need to be eating a bigger portion of cake anyway :)

  4. Usually I make my own 'Spray and Wipe' type multi-surface cleaners but I have been less organised recently...ran out of MOO and bought a bottle from the supermarket. I hated the way that my stainless steel bench tops came out streaky with this expensive product so tried diluting it 50:50 with water to see if there was a difference. The 50:50 mix cleaned just as well but without the streaks left by the undiluted product. From Melanie


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