Tag Archives: frugal

Why I am not setting New Years Resolutions this year

new years resolutions, goals, new years goals, 2018 goals, 2018 resolutions,

I love the New Year, I always have. For a girl who spent most of her life looking through rose-colored glasses while meeting goals, there is nothing better than the new year. A new year brings a beginning, another challenge, a brand-new planner, and usually a new journal (since I had filled the others up). I would also tend to set several resolutions or goals at the beginning of the year, fully intending to see them through.

It usually lasted about a week.

This year looked absolutely nothing how I thought it would. A year ago today I was sitting in our house in Grinnell, probably reading books with Tristan and answering text messages from work because they called me constantly. Now we are back in Missouri; 3 moves, a new family member, and one ill-fated RV idea later. I work from home and am seeing excellent progress being made towards my goal of being able to be a full-time blogger, which has been my dream since before the creation of this blog.

It’s time to pause, to reflect. It’s a lot to reflect on.

So in the spirit of personal growth, I will be doing things a little differently this year. I’ve been mulling over ideas, and have been discussing them with Peter. The biggest thing we have been talking about is the difference between setting a resolution vs a goal.

Peter never sets New Year’s Resolutions, but always accomplishes his goals. I always thought the terms “resolution” and “goal” were interchangeable until I married him. Even after marrying him, I still set resolutions that I believed were goals. So for clarity’s sake, some vocabulary:

(From Webster’s Dictionary online):

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. 

Peter explained it to me this way: Resolutions are things you say would be nice to accomplish. Goals are roadmaps to a desired outcome. One is a wish, the other is a map.

I like resolutions, and I like goals. The thing is, I’m very good at getting excited by something and throwing everything else to the wind, including previously set goals or resolutions. Most things that I wanted to do last year I didn’t accomplish, except for our family vacation and having our second child.

So this year, our goals for the year are very simple. We have a few family goals (2 vacations to specific places and a move to our dream neighborhood later in the year), financial goals (we are back to being debt-free after we sold the RV and now we just want to build up our savings again), and my blogging goals.

On social media recently I’ve alluded to some changes I’ll be making here on the blog. One of those changes is to return the blog to its original purpose. For that purpose, I have created a mission statement. This mission statement will be the filter I use when deciding what types of things to write about and promote:

CrunchyHippieLife.com is where readers learn how to live a healthier, natural, and environmentally-responsible lifestyle on a budget. 

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this change. I’ve felt a little all-over-the-place when it came to the blog. I knew it had lost its purpose, and I’m so pumped to refocus.

I’m especially excited to get back to the frugal finances aspect, and help you all save money. I created a list of 25 ways to save money in 2018, available as a free download. It’s not your average “use coupons at the grocery store” list either. This is 25 legitimate “tough love” actions we have taken to cut our expenses down. These ideas are sure to save you hundreds each month!

Related: How to Make (not just save) Money using Ebates

Since I’ve learned so much about blogging, I started a new page on my top menu “Make Money Blogging.” I want  to protect the blog from blogging about blogging (a common joke among bloggers is that the only ones who make money are those who blog about blogging), but I also want to share my resources. I wrote a 10-page mini ebook about everything I’ve learned in the 12+ years I’ve been a blogger. This ebook covers multiple topics related to a profitable blog, and includes my resources that have helped me become successful. It is also available for a free download, because I want to share this knowledge with you.

As far as learning about blogging goes, I was able recently to invest some blogging profits into the popular Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and am working through that now. It is so full of actionable information, I am very excited to be learning from a blogger who makes over $100,000 per month from her blog. She is very knowledgable and makes it so easy to understand. It will take me a while to go through all my old posts and get them “Pinterest-ready,” but it will definitely be worth it.

I have also committed to posting monthly blogging income reports, both for accountability purposes and to measure my progress. My first one was written last month about how I made over $650 on Black Friday, and I am excited to start working on December’s in the next few days.

If there are things (within the mission statement) that you would be interested in reading about, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Thank you so much for being a reader this year, I look forward to growing with you all in 2018!

Top 6 Reasons You Need An Instant Pot


Oh, Instant Pot, how did I ever manage in my kitchen without you? You make my life so much easier!

  1. Never before have I been able to do a full week’s worth of meal prep in the span of a few hours, with so few dishes.
  2. 2. Never before have I been able to dump spaghetti sauce, gluten-free noodles, and (browned) ground beef into a pot, pressed a button, and walked away, only to come back to a fully cooked one-pot lunch in less than 10 minutes.
  3.  Never before have I made perfect, gelatinous bone broth, in any less time than 4 days – except now I can make it in 8 hours!
  4. Never before have I been able to make “dump and walk away” yogurt, even in a crock pot. Until my Instant Pot.
  5.  Never before have hardboiled eggs been so magically easy to peel, making deviled eggs a regular thing instead of a tedious treat.
  6. You can make beef stew in less than 1 hour that tastes like it’s been simmering away all day.

Ya’ll, seriously – if you don’t have an Instant Pot, you need one. It has completely revolutionized how I cook, how I clean up, and the amount of time I can spend with my family.

In Nevada I worked an average 9 hours a day at my job, and by the time I got home I was pretty exhausted. Meal prepping has always been my saving grace (check out my book, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for details on meal prepping on a tight budget!), but especially in the late days of pregnancy, it was a lifesaver.

The NPR (natural pressure release) feature is probably my favorite feature when making main dishes. Maybe it’s just a mental thing, but I find it very relaxing to know that my food isn’t going to overcook if I don’t jump right up and run into the kitchen the moment the timer goes off. I can actually relax, put my feet up, and not worry about hovering over pots, pans, and the oven.

There are so many options for size and style of Instant Pots. Personally, I have the 7-in-1 DUO60 6qt. I specifically chose the 7-in-1 because it has the yogurt button feature and I knew I would use it frequently. For our small-but-growing family, I find it to be the perfect size, with plenty of room for leftovers. For larger families or families with multiple teenagers, you might consider the 8qt. I know of several couples who find that a 3qt is the perfect size for their RV or to bring camping with them.

I waited months to purchase my Instant Pot, watching for the perfect price. Knowing how I love a good frugal challenge, Peter suggested I wait to purchase one until I could buy it for $50 from our regular weekly budget. I am very pleased to report that after the Kohls cash, Ebates rebates, and a bit of money from a freelancer article I wrote, I spent a total of $25 from our weekly budget.

Need to know where to find an Instant Pot? I have seen great deals at Target, Kohls, and Amazon. I hear rumors that Amazon had deep discounts on their IPs on Black Friday and probably will again (they sold hundreds of thousands of them on Prime Day!), so be watching for that.

Do you have an Instant Pot? Do you love it as much as I do? Be sure to follow my IP boards on Pinterest for loads of healthy recipes your family will love!

 

{This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are entirely my own. Please read my full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!} 

Urban Gardening Wish List

I am a firm believer that “to grow your own food is to print your own money.” Imagine the amount of money that would immediately open up to you if your grocery budget was significantly decreased! Thanks to the Urban Gardening movement, it is now completely possible to grow your own food, even in small spaces.

I’ve been combing through Amazon, putting together my wish list of urban gardening supplies. We are renting, so even though we have a small front yard (no back yard), I doubt my landlord would be too thrilled if I tore up the grass to plant a garden. Some precious friends with a huge farm have graciously offered to let us use a portion of their land for a garden, and I am equal parts humbled and thrilled, which is a very difficult mix of emotions to convey through words. Picture me jumping up and down squealing but also flabbergasted, and that would probably be pretty accurate.

I know many people are in the same sort of renting living situation, so I wanted to share this list and show you how possible it is to have a garden in small spaces, or without the whole plowing and tilling process. Here are some great products that will help you create the urban farm of your dreams:

1. Envirocycle compact compost bin

These are created with small spaces in mind. It comes in two sizes, the 35-gallon (pictured) and the 16-gallon. They sit on the ground and spin easily. Every garden should have at least two (since you need one to fill while the other one “brews” for 6 weeks or so). These guys are even BPA-free! I think they look like snails.

2. Tower Garden

I can’t say enough about these powerhouse growing systems. They are aeroponic growing systems, self-watering, and grow tons of food in 5 weeks or less. No weeding. It’s planting and harvesting, and that’s about it. You can purchase one at a time or a family pack in sets of 3. These can even be brought inside and continue your harvest year-round! To grow in here: lettuce, kale, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, strawberries, and possibly a melon or two.

3. 20 gallon fabric growing pots

Sometimes, you just need dirt. These pots are made of a sturdy fabric to allow for better drainage and easier air flow to the roots. To grow in these: sweet potatoes (check out this post on growing sweet potatoes in buckets), beets, garlic, and raspberries.

Other items on my wish list for our garden:

Urban apple trees (they are a hybrid that can stay planted in pots!)

Kitchen compost bin.This particular bin is great for under the counter storage. I used to have a countertop storage system and even though I kept up with it, it had an odor. With this, I can lock the  container closed and keep it under a cabinet. Less odor = happier family.

Harvesting Bushel Tote bag – to bring in all your delicious fresh produce!

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden – Absolutely, positively cramped for space? This little guy can even fit anywhere!

I am so excited to get my garden this year!

Want even more tips for gardening and DIY? Get access to ebooks, webinars, printables, and more with the  Ultimate Herbs and Essential Oils

Thank you for reading! If this post has helped you, please share and download your free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

Get the Most out of Your Holiday Budget – Part 3: Groupon Coupons

 

I wrote before about the amazing wonders of Groupon Goods, but did you know that there are also Groupon Coupons?

I am a recovering coupon queen. Yes, I was one of “those people.” I had bookshelves dedicated to my stocks of razors, shampoos, and hair dyes. I had buckets of toothpaste. I had a 5 inch zippered binder that held all of my coupons in neatly organized card pages so heavy it set off my airbag alarm. I was addicted to the show Extreme Couponing. I even went dumpster diving at the local dump (once). I was a mess.

I left that life once I went hippie. I started making my own toothpaste, so I stopped purchasing it from the store. I made my lotions and my deodorant and I stopped dying my hair. I stopped buying the Sunday paper, but I still love a good deal and happily use coupons whenever I can.

So let me tell you just how happy I am that Groupon now has coupons for major retailers! For instance, Shutterfly has 13 coupon deals right now – including signing up with Shutterfly and getting a custom magnet, address labels, and 50 4×6 prints, all for free! I love Shutterfly’s frequent deals featuring free prints, but I have never seen one with free prints plus free address labels and a magnet!

Overstock.com has Groupon Coupons right now. I will tell you, my favorite set of sheets came from Overstock and I absolutely love the quality. Their deals are already great, but through the end of the month they have up to 70% off their inventory. I see great deals for everything from furniture to jewelry to clothing – and with free shipping!

If you’re traveling, the Marriott has special deals, including saving 20% off room rates and a free breakfast.

I love holiday shopping, and can’t stand paying full price for anything. Be sure to check out Groupon Coupons before you purchase anything online to make sure you are getting the very best deal!

How are you stretching your holiday budget this year?

4 Strange Ingredients for Your Next Cup of Coffee

4 new ways to make coffee, eggs in coffee, bulletproof coffee, DIY coffee

Oh, coffee. My favorite beverage – no calories, energy-inducing caffeine, and warm, full-flavored goodness. My daily hug-in-a-mug.

My usual routine is to just add a splash of cashew milk as a creamer, but sometimes I want a specialty drink without the specialty price. As I’ve gotten more frugal, I’ve also become more adventurous when it comes to what I add to my coffee. Here are my four favorite additions:

1. Butter

Butter in coffee is…just delicious. The key is to blend the two together, otherwise you end up with butter floating at the top of your mug. Butter (especially grass-fed butter like Kerrygold) is full of good fats. Butter also has fat-soluble vitamins. This concoction is the best with a sprinkle of cinnamon and the tiniest splash of vanilla extract.

2. Coconut oil

Like butter, adding coconut oil adds healthy fats. Coconut oil has natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antiviral properties, which helps the immune system. Coconut oil is easily absorbed in the body, making it a good quick fuel for an energy burst and gives your metabolism a boost. This is  a great addition to your morning coffee! Start off with a 1/2 teaspoon or so added to your coffee until your body gets used to it, or you might end up with a pretty significant detox reaction. (Tip: the popular “bulletproof” coffee is a mix of butter and coconut oil!)

Related: How to Make SuperMom Coffee at Home

3. Collagen Hydrolysate

Collagen is a connective tissue in the body, known for its ability to support muscles and bones with an elastic quality. Adding a spoonful of grass-fed collagen hydrolysate each morning will aid your body’s restoration efforts for better joints, stronger hair and nails, and healthier skin. Collagen’s protein is easy to digest, making it a powerful choice for improving your gut health.


4. Raw Eggs

Don’t knock it ’til you try it, raw eggs are amazing in coffee! Eggs are rich in protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and good cholesterol. To make my egg latte, I first blend one or two eggs in the blender and then use a small amount of coffee to temper the eggs before I pour in the remainder. Add in some cinnamon and cloves for an eggnog-like drink!

Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Budget: Part 2 – Earn gift cards with Dealspotr

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Part two of our frugal holiday series brings me to my latest exciting discovery – Dealspotr!

I am a big fan of Swagbucks, a search engine where you can earn points towards gift cards. Those gift cards were a lifesaver in our early marriage, and we used most of them to pay for groceries.

There are many deals I want to share with you readers. I struggle with sharing deals because I never wanted this blog to become a “deals blog,” partly because that’s not my passion and partly because that’s an awful lot to keep up with. Occasionally I will post deals related to natural living, but that’s about it.

Enter Dealspotr! With Dealspotr, I earn gift cards by posting thrifty deals I find. I also have my own profile “feed” where I share deals I believe my followers will be most interested in. I’m especially excited about this feature, since I can share my favorite deals with you all without changing the focus of my blog.

I’ve been able to play around with how everything works, and I’ve already earned a $20 gift card! This will definitely come in handy this holiday shopping season, as I have some things on my list that can only be ordered online.

Pros: 

  • Using Dealspotr makes it possible to earn gift cards fast! I like Swagbucks, but it takes awhile to earn gift cards without spending money on the shopping or deal features.
  • Are you ready to make a purchase but want to make sure you’re getting the best deal? Be sure to check out Dealspotr for any coupon or promo codes – if it’s out there, it’s posted and available for you.
  • I can post my favorite deals on a feed for my followers, which is great for deals that I want to pass on but aren’t necessarily in line with the “voice” I want for this blog.
  • I can add affiliate links to the deals I share.
  • I can insert specific Dealspotr deals into blog posts (with affiliate links if I have them!), and if that particular deal expires, it is automatically replaced with a similar product. This way I don’t have to go back and change my posts and links, they stay evergreen.
  • Gift cards are offered in the form of Amazon gift cards or Paypal. I am especially fond of using my Amazon Prime membership to order things with gift cards, so I’m thankful to have another avenue to earn ways to purchase things I want but don’t want to use our regular family budget to purchase.

Cons:

  • It took me awhile to navigate the website for the first time and post my first few deals. Once I learned how, it was much easier. It could just be me and my inability to learn new websites quickly. As a bonus, I’m now thoroughly comfortable with how to screen shot deals on my computer.
  • Adding affiliate links to any deals I share is time-consuming. I generally spend 5-10 hours a week on the blog between writing, marketing, and working on various projects “behind-the-scenes” that no one necessarily sees. I love that I can just earn points by scrolling through and liking/sharing new deals on my Dealspotr feed, but if I want to work on increasing my affiliate income, it’s a bit tedious and time-consuming. I also don’t like that if I share deals with my affiliate links, I don’t earn points towards gift cards like I would without the affiliate links.

Conclusion:

Dealspotr isn’t just for bloggers, everyone can sign up with a profile and earn gift cards! There is huge opportunity to earn lots of free or discounted products using gift cards and shopping through rebate websites! I would highly recommend it as another gift card source.

 

{This post is sponsored by Dealspotr and contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation in the form of products or money, but all opinions are completely my own. Please read my full disclosure for details.} 

NEW EBOOK – and a cook-along!

Dirt Cheap Nutrition - get the best tips for stretching your dollars and improving your nutrition!

Monday was a huge day for me – I launched my first ebook!

This book is special for me. I had been thinking about it for a long time and finally decided that it wasn’t going to ever be written if I just sat and thought about it. So even though I was super busy with multiple things, I still made it a priority to sit down and write a little each day. I spent my usual veg-out Facebook time reading articles about writing ebooks and publishing options and marketing. Finally, on Monday, I was able to release it to the internet.

It has been SO fun getting texts and pictures from people who have read my book and followed the outline to change their grocery budget. In fact, I have enjoyed it so much that I’m going to document a batch cooking session next week, starting on Thursday. Pictures will be taken and uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #dirtcheapnutrition

Will you join me? I would love to see everything you create for your family!  There are  2.5 things you need to do:

  1. Buy my book! It’s only $2.99!
  2. Begin a sourdough starter (directions in the book) if you don’t have one going already.

2.25 – Leave me a comment that you will be joining me next Thursday!

2.5- Upload your own pictures and use #dirtcheapnutrition

Thank you all for your support of this project. It’s completely overwhelming and I’m so grateful to you all!

 

{This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

How to Feed a Hippie

Feeding a family on a budget is difficult enough. But add in specialty diets and it can be pretty impossible depending on where you live. We are pretty lucky because we live in a rather ritzy college town (which seems so silly, a ritzy college smack dab in the middle of Iowa, but whatever, I’ll go with it), so there is a small family-owned grocery store that carries more organic and otherwise healthy options. Apparently the college has a lot of vegetarians and vegans, so they have a good place to shop.

But food deserts are a reality and many people don’t have the access to quality foods that we have. So for you (and in case you were curious about good places to shop), here’s a run-down of some places that I have personally shopped at and recommend:

Thrive Market

I posted about them last week. Thrive Market is the online convenience of Amazon, featuring Whole Foods products at Aldi prices with a Costco membership. Make sense? I love that I can order hemp hearts and sprouted quinoa, as well as the basic healthier foods and good dark chocolate. Plus, my membership fee pays for two memberships: on for me, and one for a qualifying low-income family. Shipping is always free with orders of $50 or more. Oh, and did I mention they almost always have a free gift with purchase?

Zaycon Fresh

This is basically a co-op for farm-fresh meat products. The meats are sold in bulk by the case, so either go in with a friend or enjoy stocking up on meats for up to 25% off grocery store prices. Since the meat comes straight from the processor, the taste is amazing compared to store-bough meat.

Azure Standard

The only thing I don’t like about Azure Standard is the minimum of $50 order. They are a bulk co-op in several cities, and you have to coordinate with a drop manager to know when your order will be delivered. When we lived in St. Louis, our drop was a K-Mart parking lot, and there were a good 50 families participating. This was where I first bought a gallon of coconut oil, and another time I purchased a 22 pound bag of sea salt (I’m pretty sure we will be using that salt for the next 10 years. It’s been two years already and it looks like we’ve barely touched it). Azure Standard is awesome for bulk purchases, especially for harder-to-find things like organic wheat berries for my friends who have enough time to grind their own wheat for their homemade bread. You can’t see prices unless you’re a member, but it’s free to join.

Tropical Traditions

Known for being the best coconut oil in the world (and truly, it’s delicious), this stuff is worth the investment. It goes on sale pretty regularly and there are deals for buying multiples, so go halvsies with a friend or two for the best savings. Or do what I did and buy a 5 gallon bucket.

Amazon

Not everyone knows about the best (in my opinion) feature of having an Amazon Prime membership: the Prime Pantry. Basically, you fill a box with whatever food/household items your little heart desires for the flat shipping rate of $5.99/box. These are BIG boxes, friends. One time we got a $50 gift card for participating in a survey and we were able to stock up on groceries and a 24-count package of toilet paper. Not only do they have plenty of organic or health-conscious items, and if you happen to like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, I would recommend using this feature (sign up for Amazon Prime here if you don’t have an account yet).

I do a lot of our shopping online. Now that we have a more flexible food budget (and I have found creative ways to supplement it), I’ve been able to slowly transition. One of my goals for 2016 is to make about 95% of our non-perishable purchases online with money I’ve earned through writing articles or swagbucks gift cards and getting to use our grocery money on fresh produce. The more I can provide quality nutrition for myself and my men, the happier I am!

Have you ever shopped at any of these places? What do you think?

For more tips on how to eat a healthy diet on a budget, grab my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for free!

 

{This article contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

The Basics of Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper basics, how to use cloth diapers, cloth diapering tips, cloth diaper pros and cons

We were graciously given a two-week supply of disposable diapers from some very generous friends, and so for the past week we have been using them. After months and months of cloth diaper laundry, it’s been very eye-opening for us to take a break and use disposables!

As a self-proclaimed hippie, it is to be expected that I am all about cloth diapering. As a new mom who is still sometimes having difficulty believing that this little person is truly mine and I’m not just babysitting for a really long time, I wanted to talk some brutal honesty about the differences in diapers.

First, the pros:

  1. The cost. I LOVE that I can use these diapers for any future children we might have. You definitely can’t say that about a disposable!
  2. The cute. Guys, cloth diapers are absolutely adorable. And on Etsy, they are even cuter. Like all the Harry Potter ones. I can’t help myself. I need them all.
  3. You always have them. You don’t have to run out in the middle of the night after realizing that you just used the last diaper.

Now the cons:

  1. It’s a lot of laundry. We do laundry 2-3 times a week, and you have to do a short cycle  first to clean off all the gross before adding in the other clothes (unless you have enough cloth diapers to fill an entire full load, we have about a half load’s worth).
  2. Sometimes it takes awhile to find a brand that fits your child’s specific build properly, and the process can be frustrating. When we first started cloth diapering, we were lent a bunch of cloth diapers by some friends, but they didn’t fit Tristan’s long skinny  legs very well. He was always leaking and we almost gave up on cloth diapering altogether until we tried a different style that was more customizable to thinner babies.
  3. If you’re easily grossed out, cloth diapers probably aren’t for you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to scoop mess out of diapers before I could put them in the wash. The pro for the disposable diapers is definitely that you only see that once.

Every once in awhile, it is very nice to have a break from tons of laundry. In general for our family, the pros of cloth diapering outweigh the cons. Though the investment seems like a lot, once you do the math and realize how much money you save by not having to purchase diapers regularly (especially if you have more than one in diapers at once!), the cost per diaper goes down drastically. Even for the Harry Potter diapers.

Cheap and Healthy: Bananas

cheap healthy food, healthy meals, budget meals, healthy budget meals, healthy food on a budget

See also:

Lentils

Zucchini

It’s banana day! This is particularly good timing since they are on sale at Aldi for $0.29/pound, and no that was not planned.

Bananas are technically a berry. The high amount of vitamin B6 in one banana makes them a great source of quick energy.

Growing up, I thought they had a weird texture and I went through a phase where I really didn’t like them. Tristan has the same texture issue so he just squishes it around his place at the table and doesn’t actually eat them yet. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate this odd fruit.

Everyone knows  you can either eat them plain or let them “go bad” to make banana bread, but they are actually quite the versatile fruit. Did you know you can use them as egg replacements? Use one ripe and mashed banana to replace an egg in a recipe. This is especially helpful if anyone is trying to “vegan-ize” old favorite recipes.

Mix a banana and an egg together for gluten-free pancakes and top with a berry compote or real maple syrup. For extra protein, add a scoop of protein powder to the pancake mix. Some of my friends use Juice Plus’ Complete protein (with nutrition from 24 different plants!) in their mix and they call them “plantcakes.”

Peel and freeze bananas and blend them with some berries and/or cacao/chocolate powder (or more protein mix) for some healthy ice cream, or add to your smoothies for added thickening, chill, and creaminess. My favorite smoothie is frozen banana, chocolate protein powder, a scoop of peanut or almond butter, and a splash of almond milk.

What are your favorite ways to eat bananas?

For more money-saving ideas, download my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for free!