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on April 11, 2013 10:50 AM

DEAR MARY: I am trying to find recipe substitutes for the popular creamed soups, like cream of celery, cream of mushroom, etc. These condensed soups are killing my budget. I don’t even want to pay a buck a can for the generic option at Walmart! — Nikki, Colorado

DEAR NIKKI: Here’s a bulk recipe to use in place of canned cream soups in cass-eroles and other recipes. Mix 2 cups powdered nonfat milk, 3/4 cup cornstarch, 1/4 cup instant vegetable bullion, 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes, 1 teaspoon dry basil leaves, 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

To substitute for one can of condensed soup: Combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cups cold water in saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened. Add to your recipe as you would one can of soup.

Yield: Equivalent of nine cans of soup.


Mushroom soup — Add 1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms.

Celery soup — Add 1/2 cup minced celery, cooked.

Potato soup — Add 1 cup diced potatoes, cooked.

Vegetable soup — Add 3/4 cup mixed vegetables, cooked.

Broccoli soup — Add 1 cup chopped broccoli, cooked.

Asparagus soup — Add 1 cup chopped asparagus, cooked.

Recipes for other popular mixes are featured in a booklet I put together called “Make Your Own Mixes.” We’ve made it available as an eBooklet, downloadable to your computer for $3.99, or as a printed booklet for $7. To order either version, visit our bookstore at; call (800) 550-3502; or send your check or money order to Debt-Proof Living, Dept. Mixes, PO Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

DEAR MARY: Several years ago, I found in your column a shower cleaner that combines ᄐ cup Pine-Sol and ᄐ cup bleach with 28 ounces of water. I have happily used it ever since with very good results.

I recently read that combining Pine-Sol with bleach creates chloroform. Is this true? If so, what can I use as a substitute to clean my shower? — Brenda, email

DEAR BRENDA: I have thoroughly searched all of our archives back to 1997 and do not find this recipe at all.

Thankfully. I know that mixing bleach with other products can be problematic and have always cautioned readers against this.

My search did turn up a couple of alternative shower cleaners for you:

1. Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach (it comes this way from the manufacturer) is a great shower cleaner, especially around the floor where gunk and scum accumulates.

2. To clean all surfaces in your home (excluding wood), add ᄒ cup Pine-Sol liquid cleaner to 1 gallon water. Fill spray bottle to use. Rinsing isn’t usually necessary. This is much cheaper (and just as effective) as using pre-filled spray bottles you buy.

Chlorine bleach mixed with ammonia forms chlorine gas, which can be deadly.

I do not know what is in Pine-Sol. So my rule is: When in doubt, don’t.


Do you have a question for Mary? Email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of “7 Money Rules for Life,” released in 2012. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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