four balls of playdough - pink, blue, green, yellow

To see what all the hype was about, I recently gave homemade playdough a trial run.  Here’s how that experience and the savings equation played out!

My Experience

First impression?

“My kids will love this homemade playdough!  I’ll finally earn “super-mom” status! Plus, my wallet will thank me!”

Where to begin? “

Hold up. How many recipes are there for this? According to Google, 480,000. Narrowing it based on page rankings and reviews, I choose one.”

Second thoughts?

“Crap. The recipe calls for cream of tartar; what is that? Wait - and, food coloring? Double crap. Now, I have to make a Target run.”

Then what?

"Ok, let’s do this. We choose red for our first batch.  Ah, the kids and I are aligned. Our first success. ”

Mid-process mind-wanderings?

“What part of a stove-top activity with a 3yr and 5yr old did I originally see as a great idea? Come to think of it, why am I using my pricey All-Clad pot on this sticky hot mess? And, whoa.  Why was their no warning on the recipe that included having arms of steel to endlessly stir this thing?”

Next move?

“Done. I’m done with this. No, not literally done in terms of making the playdough; more like done in terms of being fed up. I turn to the microwave to finish off this project.”

Any signs of hope?

“Yes. My foul-smelling, odd-looking lump of fun is finally cooling on the counter. Let’s get the boys excited by bringing out their tub of plastic Play-Doh accessories!”

All end well?

“Well, no. After a 90min adventure, our hands got stained a pink hue, my wood grain table absorbed a tiny layer of this slime into it, their toys with inside parts caked on the goo so much so that I had to soak them in a sink of hot water (along with my All-Clad pot), and my boys were no longer pleased with their sole color option of much for that earlier success.”

My Savings Equation

As you can infer by now, my playdough venture was more like a Play-D’oh experience (courtesy of Bart Simpson’s famous catchphrase).  At this point, I figured it was worth the extra time to see if at least my wallet came out ahead of the curve.  Thankfully, it did.  Detail is as follows:
  • 1 C Flour – $0.13 (1/20th of my 5lb Bag of Gold Medal with a SRP of $2.49)
  • 1 C Water – Free
  • ¼ C Salt – $0.06 (1/13th of my 26oz can of Morton)
  • 1 TBSP Vegetable Oil – $0.03 (1/96th of my 48oz jar of Wesson)
  • 2 Tsp Cream of Tartar – $0.57
  • Food Coloring ­– $0.37 (1/8th of my 4pk of Wilton)
  • Total = $1.16
You can see that the overall cost came to $1.16 for 16oz of supposed playdough. Compared to Play-Doh’s Rainbow Starter Pack of 8, 2oz tubs with a SRP of $4.99 this is a savings of $3.83 (or 77%). This was quite the run for the money; my wallet was, in fact, elated!


In the end, I still wasn’t satisfied; the savings equation didn't trump my experience.  The whole journey was just not worth it and I felt “play-dover”.  My time, the frustration, my kids’ interest level, all of it separate or combined was worth more than $3.83 in savings.  I think that there are as many people out there like me in this sentiment as there are out there who “swear by” their so-called perfect recipes for homemade Play-Doh.  So, which camp are you in … Play-Doh, Play-Dough, Play-D’oh, Played-Over, or otherwise?
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4 thoughts on “Play-“Dough”

  1. Try letting the kids help make the play dough. My daughters preschool only uses homemade play dough and each class gets to make the play dough for the week. They add sparkles, scents, colors. They love it.

    1. Thanks for the tip; I’ll talk with my daycare about the recipe they use … hopefully, it’s easier than the one I tried the first time! As for the mix-ins, we did Hawaiian Punch for scent/color and the boys did enjoy that too!

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