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Nutrition on a Tiny Budget


by schefflera

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This article is a guide to feeding your Neopets well on a limited budget, whether you want to conserve Neopoints to save up for something or simply because you don't have very many. Some people are under the impression that you have to spend a lot to keep your Neopets well fed, and that operating on a smaller budget is cruel. They are wrong.

This is definitely not going to be an article on how to starve or neglect your Neopets, or on how to make them miserable. I will not tell you to sell all your daily freebies without buying replacements or to provide a diet of Gross Foods, even though I have no idea why Tuna Porridge is considered a Gross Food and a Dung Muffin is not. (If your Neopet likes Gross Foods, go to town, but at that point you probably know more about how to find good deals in that category than I do.) I've seen a guide to becoming wealthy on Neopets that starts out by claiming you have to learn to neglect your Neopet, and I was shocked. That's not just cruel, it's utter nonsense.

You and your Neopets, whether by design or by hashing out an agreement, should have at least some level of agreement with regard to your goals. There should be a mutual understanding that the goals you're pursuing are desirable -- after all, most of them involve the Neopet as much as they involve you, or even more. You may want plenty of Neopoints for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you just want a comfortable cushion in case of emergencies or impulse buys. Perhaps you plan a change in color or species -- I would certainly hope that's something your Neopets agree to. Perhaps you want to improve your Neohome. Perhaps you want to take up investing (in the stockmarket, in rare or retired items, in restocking), and while your eventual goal may be to be able to buy whatever you want without thought, you need starting capital. Perhaps your Neopet is a battler and you need Neopoints for training and weapons. Perhaps there's a gallery collection you want to complete. Perhaps your Neopet is interested in books... or even in gourmet foods. Even in this last case, there comes a point at which buying more gourmet foods may require eating inexpensively the rest of the time.

Anyhow, there are many reasons you might want to stick to a limited food budget, and your reasons are your own business. I'm just here to tell you how you can do it, without worrying that your Neopets are suffering from malnutrition or boredom.

Neolodge

I don't actually recommend this if you're on a really tight budget, unless you also are very short on time. True, as far as I know, even the least expensive option will keep your Neopet fed for only 5np per day, and if you have enough, you can go ahead and sign up for up to four weeks at a time. But there are two problems with this. First, do you really want the cheapest option? Cockroach Towers? Ugh! Unless your Neopet is an insectivore by preference or really enjoys being grubby, which I admit may be entirely possible, this may not be the best move. Second, with a little more time invested, you can feed your Neopet for less than five Neopoints per day. Most of my recommendations will start with foods you can get for 1np if you try hard enough and under 5np even if you don't.

I use the Neolodge myself, but only when I don't feel I'm going to want to sit down for a family dinner, so to speak, and am willing to pay a little more in order to get out of doing the work myself. I like the Mountain Lodge (30np per day before amenities) for longer-term stays -- not too expensive, nice scenery, comfortable without being so fancy they can't romp. I do run into the problem, however, that with them all stuffed to the gills on the hotel food, I can't give them spontaneous treats!

The Soup Kitchen: Liquid Assets Limited

The Soup Faerie will only feed Neopets whose owners have an upper limit of 2000np, so she's not really a useful option if you're trying to save up for something. If you just bought it, however, or if you haven't been able to save up much to begin with, visit her. Some of the options are a little strange, and soup with a lump of dung floating in it is rather disturbing... but considering you can buy a Dung Cookie at the Bakery and Dirt Pie at the main Food Shop, and that Ants on Ants, a Dung Slushie, and Edible Tar Pizza are considered "gourmet," her offerings are clearly in line with standard and even ritzy Neopian fare.

Omelettes and Jellies: Daily Free Food for All

I would assume that nearly everybody already knew about this option, except for two things. First, surely not all the people whining about how they can't afford to feed their "dying" neopets are just trying to get donations. Second... er, to be perfectly honest, when I was a new player, it took me a while to get around to trying out the Explore map.

Once a day, you can go to the Omelette on the Tyrannian Plateau and acquire... well... an Omelette. This may be plain egg or contain some of a variety of fruits, vegetables, or meats. Each is actually three big bites and may be shared among multiple Neopets or given to one particularly hungry one. Most of these sell for fairly low prices in user shops if you look around a bit; a few of the rarer varieties, though obtainable for free if you're lucky, are worth quite a bit on the open market and should be sold instead of eaten. For some reason -- I can only guess that more people sell them whole than partly eaten -- 1/3 or 2/3 of an expensive variety of omelette may be priced higher than a whole one. Whether anybody buys these I have no idea, and if they do, I can't explain it. Anyway, check the Shop Wizard if you get anything you think might be unusual. If you want more than the free portion, buy them up -- you should be able to get a whole omelette of several varieties for under 15np (5np/portion), though it's rare to get them for 3np (1np/portion).

I think the people who believe you have to neglect your Neopet to make Neopoints may be under the impression that it's a good idea to sell your free omelette portions. Unless they're rare, there really isn't that much point: you'd make more off a decent game of Pyramids. If they are rare, use a little sense: sell them off, buy something cheaper, and you've got food AND profit.

Omelettes are actually a pretty good staple option and provide a reasonable amount of variety in themselves, although the whole point of this article is that you don't have to stick to just one category. If you did want to stick to one category for some reason, omelettes might be a good choice. You can get meat, vegetables, or dairy free or at a low price -- in addition to the egg, of course, which is actually very nutritious as long as your Neopet isn't prone to high cholesterol.

Once a day, you cannot go to -blocked-, which according to TNT officially does not exist, and there you cannot visit the equally nonexistent Giant Jelly, and therefore you will not receive a dome-shaped two-serving portion of jelly in one of a variety of flavors. Oddly enough, most of these nonexistent items are also pretty cheap if you check the Shop Wizard. Sometimes you can even find a whole Glowing Jelly for 1np.

Although fruit-flavored jellies offer some important vitamins, I don't recommend feeding your Neopet a steady diet of them unless your Neopet thrives on... well... sugar and not much else. (Some Buzzes do best on a diet of sweets, so keep that in mind.) They make an excellent dessert, though -- sweet but not excessively rich.

Because of the variety of nutritious foods included in omelettes, you can stop here and feed your Neopets essentially for free if you collect the available free food every day. If you want more variety than that or if you don't always get around to picking up the free stuff (like me), however, read on!

A word of warning: Rotten Omelettes and Poisonous Jellies can give your Neopet a disease. Do not eat them. Well, you can keep a Poisonous Jelly around to replace a worse disease with a lesser one, but that's not really the ideal function of a food.

Fishing: New, Moist, and Refreshing

Fish is good for you. The Underwater Fishing game, which recently became available in the ruins of Old Maraqua, has the potential to provide several food items. You may not get one yourself if your Neopets go fishing, but you can buy some of them very inexpensively and some of those that are currently pricier may become a little more affordable until the supply reaches a steady state.

Scrawnyfish, Waterfish, Breadfish, Blandfish, and Lesser Spotted Fish are fairly easy to find at 1np, although you may buy the Breadfish at 2-5 if you're impatient. The Scrawnyfish doesn't look too appetizing, but is all right if your Neopet doesn't mind the bones. The Blandfish and Lesser Spotted Fish are satisfyingly meaty (although the Blandfish has an extremely mild flavor that is hard to appreciate for some Neopets), however, and the Breadfish is appealingly crusty. The Breadfish is quite nice by itself, but if you want to spend a bit more, a Butterfish (about 25np, sometimes less) makes an excellent complement. The Waterfish is less substantial than the other options, but very refreshing.

Some other options are also affordable; the Small Giant Squid may sell for 5-15np. Calamari!

The Rockfish is not edible for most Neopets, but may amuse a Grarrl or Skeith.

Tombola: Tiki Tack!

Some of the foods the Tombola Man hands out fall into the Gross Food category, but there are also several perfectly reasonable options, many of them canned, dried, or preserved. Some are healthier than others. You can get a Box of Wheat Flakes, Box of Trifle Mix, a can of Baked Beans or Musho Mushy Peas, a Can of Prune Juice, Dried Prunes or Dried Apricots, Homemade Marmalade or Homemade Gooseberry Jam, a Tin of Olives, a Scotch Egg, Brown Sauce, Semolina, Neoflakes Cake, a Tin of Olives or Tin of Sardines...

Some of these are hard to find for less than 5np, but you really shouldn't pay more than that. It may be advisable to make the fresher, sun-baked fruits, meats, and vegetables available elsewhere a larger part of your Neopet's diet than some of the greasier or more processed foods available from Tombola, but the Tombola options are certainly convenient. Besides, the homemade preserves are very nice (you may want to try the jam or marmalade on the Breadfish), and a few prunes now and then are good for the system. We have to keep up the Neopian dung supply somehow.

Desert Food: Not Just the Burnt Stuff

Burnt or otherwise damaged food is not the only inexpensive option in Lost Desert cuisine -- although it shouldn't actually be overlooked. Some of it certainly isn't very appetizing, but your Neopets' tastes may vary, especially on what actually qualifies as too "burnt" or "scorched" to eat. I know some people who don't regard certain foods as adequately cooked until well past the point where I'd consider them overdone. The Scorched Tut Trout is unpleasantly burnt to some; others quite like it (and Smoked Meridellian Fish, a considerably more expensive dish with an equally unflattering description). Some damaged fruits and vegetables may be quicker to spoil, but can still be tasty if eaten or cooked quickly.

Leaving the damaged desert foods aside, however, there are still several very affordable options.

The Bagguss, a curiously chocolatey fruit when deflated and sun-dried, may owe its low price in part to over-hasty individuals who have tried to eat it fresh-picked and got a faceful of gas -- but more pertinently, it's common and easy to grow. You can generally find several of these for 1np apiece if you shop around. I do have one Neopet who won't eat these, but there are always a few foods like that for any Neopet. At these prices, you can afford to experiment a little.

The Ummagine, a rich purple root vegetable, seems to be a favorite of local thieves... but this is no reason to deprive your Neopet of its fine flavor. I'm sure Ummagine consumption doesn't actually have any influence on morality. Crack the seeds between your teeth if you like, or spit them into your garden and see if anything grows. The description claims that Ummagines are rarely harvested because it's too much trouble, but perhaps there have been some advances in cultivation, as Ummagine prices run only a little higher than Baggusses. You can probably find these for 1np too, but may have to settle for spending 2-3np if you're in a hurry.

The Cheops Plant is also a little pricier -- 2-3np -- but very tasty if your Neopets like cherries. Just be sure they bite off the stem below the leaves; those are toxic. Tchea Fruit is also available for a Neopoint or two; it tastes like blueberry and banana... No, I have no idea why so many Lost Desert fruits taste like something else.

The Lost Desert practices its own unique methods of food preservation, and evidently they work fairly well against the ravages of time, if not of violence. A Mummified Pepper need not be cracked to be a good deal -- shop around until you get one for 1-2np. Be careful; these are hot peppers -- especially if they've been out in the Sakhmet sun.

Ptolymelons, by contrast, are not available preserved, and they spoil rapidly once cut in half. Why no one either mummifies them or even sells them whole is anyone's guess. You can eat the rind and collapsed fruit once they do spoil, but we were ignoring the ruined Desert Food options. Anyhow, in most markets these seem to be priced at 5np, but you can find them cheaper if you look. Just serve quickly.

A Grackle Bug on a Stick is a good, inexpensive source of protein with a convenient handle (which can later be turned into a convenient toothpick), on much the same principle as the far pricier Patrapiller and Honey or the Peppered Kersla Bug. The Grackle-Stuffed Turkey has some of the same flavor but is much more substantial; try it for a rather unorthodox Thanksgiving meal this month of Collecting or Storing, whichever is appropriate. On second thought, try it ahead of time and make sure you like the combination. A word of warning: since these foods are now recognizably a type of petpet, don't try them on particularly squeamish Neopets. Especially if you've given them a Grackle Bug as a petpet and they're very fond of it. (Same goes for Grackle Bug Steak, although that is at least fairly unrecognizable, and the pungent Grackle Bug Brew -- but they cost more.)

Avoid Pyramibread and Pyramicake if you want to keep under 5np a shot, unless you can find a particularly good deal or don't mind the ones discounted for overcooking. These are mainly baked for visitors; you can tell by the shape, as tourists are on average more likely than long-term residents to eat food shaped like nearby buildings. The fruit filling is also decidedly non-local -- raspberry for Pyramibread, Golden Juppie for Pyramicake. On the other hand, they're not that expensive as far as tourist traps go. If you feel you've saved enough elsewhere and your Neopet wants to try a bread pudding with a nice fruity center, indulge. Sutek Muffins are in approximately the same price range, as are Sphinx Links.

Other...

There are other very inexpensive options; you will sometimes, when searching for items commonly sold at 1np, find a shop that has just been stocked with several other items priced just as low, generally in an effort to attract quick custom. There are a number of relatively inexpensive items originating in the Haunted Woods, Meridell, or Tyrannia, though pricing can vary seasonally or apparently at random. Most of these you will have to work out by experience, as I've already covered the categories with the largest number of reliable options for feeding a Neopet at less than 5np per day. Besides, this article is getting a little long. You aren't bored yet, are you?

Summary

In short, Cockroach Towers is not the cheapest option for feeding your Neopets. It's true that feeding them a healthful and varied diet on less than five Neopoints per day takes a little work and time, and perhaps a few more page-loads than those with a slow connection would prefer -- but it's still easier than most people seem to think. You can readily provide your Neopet with plenty of protein, mildly exotic fruit and vegetable salads from the Lost Desert, and fresh seafood -- not to mention dessert. The rarest food group at these prices, curiously enough, seems to be grain, but you can fill that gap with the recently arrived and tasty Breadfish or spend a few of the Neopoints you've been saving on 5-10np baked goods instead of 1-5. If your Neopets are particularly fond of egg and jelly, you may never have to buy food... but be sure to keep an eye on their health. A balanced diet is almost always best, though the exact nature of "balance" may vary with species or even individual physiology.

Have fun shopping around!

 
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