Tag Archives: frugal

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 Garden 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 Healthy Living Bundle and the Ultimate Herbs and Essential Oils bundles flash sale December 28-29, buy one for $29.97 and get the second for $15!

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

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

{This post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own.}

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 that was 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!

4 Strange Ingredients for Your Next Cup of Coffee

4ingredientsforyournextcupofcoffeeOh, 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 coffee 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 coffee concoction is the best with a sprinkle of cinnamon and the tiniest splash of vanilla extract.

2. Coconut oil

Like butter, adding coconut oil to coffee 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!)

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 to your coffee 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. Check out this post by Elizabeth at Living the Nourished Life to learn more. 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 of the coffee. Add in some cinnamon and cloves for an eggnog-like drink!

{This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

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

get-the-most-out-of-your-holiday-budget

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 Get What You Want…FOR FREE

How to use what you have to get what you want for free. Frugal and creative living at its finest!

Okay okay, so there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But have you ever thought about bringing back the barter system?

I absolutely love bartering. If I have something that you need, find useful, or believe is beautiful, it makes sense to trade! Money is tight for many of us, and the thrifty home manager finds creative ways to stretch a dollar. Bartering is a way you can live “for free,” since the exchange of money is not involved and uses only what you already have.

Last summer I traded a gallon of Tropical Tradition’s coconut oil for several pounds of meat for my family. Read about it on my MoneySavingMom.com reader tip.

In December I was able to trade again. We had been talking about getting a toy chest for Tristan’s ever-growing toy population, and I happened to see a friend (who actually lives in the same neighborhood) put a large toy chest on the local buy/sell/trade site for $60. I knew we wouldn’t spend $60 on a toy chest but I also knew she had been wanting a few essential oils for awhile. So I messaged her and asked if she would consider a trade and she agreed! The following weekend she brought over the toy chest and I gave her three bottles of essential oils ($60 worth) I had purchased with free product points. It was a great trade!

What do you think about the practice of bartering? Have you bartered before? Tell me in the comments!

Cloth diapering: Pros and Cons

Why our family loves cloth diapers and you should too!

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. Obviously pictures like this are pretty convincing. 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 this one. And this one. And this one. Yes they are all Harry Potter related. 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 another friend sold us her Thirsties cover and it fit him so well it was quickly my favorite!
  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 (thank you friends!). 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

If you're on a budget, you are eating as cheaply as you can. Bananas are a great addition to a healthy frugal diet because they are very inexpensive and high in Vitamin B6, the energy vitamin!

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, like this woman did. 

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?

Cheap and Healthy: Lentils

Cheap and Healthy foods: first up, lentils! These tiny legumes are very under appreciated, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch!

For the next few Mondays I will be sharing some of my favorite healthy basics and a few ways to eat them. Enjoy! 

Lentils

Lentils are technically a legume, and they are a very common ingredient in middle eastern dishes, mostly curry or stew, or served over rice. High in zinc, iron, and phosphorus, with a solid 26g protein per 100g raw, they are an excellent addition to anyone’s diet, but especially pregnant women and people with anemia.

There are many different colors of lentils. The yellow and red hold together during the cooking process better and are good for stews. The brown tends to turn mushy and is used as a thickener for soups. Personally, I use brown most often and serve it over rice.

The lentil is particularly appealing because it cooks very quickly, somewhere between 10-45 mintues. However, to maximize the nutrition value it is recommended that you soak lentils for a prolonged period of 8 hours. Sprouting the lentils is another way to get rid of the enzymes that inhibit digestion and release all those minerals and delicious protein.

My all time favorite recipe is to cook them with wild rice in a mushroom broth with onions and garlic. Back when I was especially strict with my diet, this meal was a staple both for price point and nutrition. Lentils tend to take on the taste of whatever they are cooked with, so they are wonderful used to extend meat in chili or tacos. A local restaurant here in town is known for their lentil burgers. It’s an extremely versatile food and definitely a staple in healthy frugal eating!

Do you eat lentils? What is your favorite recipe? If you leave a recipe in the comments I might just try it and feature it in a future post!