How to Save Money with an Instant Pot


You’ve probably noticed your grocery bills climbing recently. Buying food for yourself and your household can be expensive. You know what else is expensive? Your time. Research shows women spend two hours more per day doing chores than men. That includes cooking. Is there a way for you to save money on your food budget while also saving time in the kitchen? Depending on who you talk to, your salvation may just be the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is not your grandmother’s stovetop pressure cooker (which was kind of scary). Instead, this whizbang gadget can help you cook tons of different recipes quickly and easily, saving you loads of time. For women on a budget, the Instant Pot may also be able to save you money.

What Is an Instant Pot?

Before we dig into all the ways an Instant Pot can save you money, it helps to know what an Instant Pot is. That is, in case your friends haven’t already been raving about theirs. An Instant Pot is the brand name of a product that can perform the jobs of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and even a yogurt maker. (Some newer models also offer air frying attachments.)

You can find devices similar to the Instant Pot under different brand names, (including Cuisinart, Gourmia, and Breville), but Instant Pot is the most popular. In a nutshell, you can plug an Instant Pot into an outlet (no stovetop needed), add in your ingredients, close the lid, program the pot, and essentially walk away. The Instant Pot will do the rest. Most models include a dozen or more pre-sets.

How Does an Instant Pot Work?

This handy machine works in different ways depending on what you’re making and the setting you choose. One of the most popular features of an Instant Pot is its pressure cooker mode, where it creates heat under a seal. The steam created in the pot can’t escape and helps cook the food more quickly and evenly.

What Can You Make in an Instant Pot?

It’s almost easier to list what you can’t make in an Instant Pot rather than what you can make. With an Instant Pot and the right accessories, you can:

  • Make rice, beans, and other staples
  • Cook meat
  • Make soups, stews, and chilis
  • Make pasta dishes
  • Cook or steam vegetables
  • Bake potatoes
  • Make hardboiled eggs
  • Make pancakes
  • Make lasagna
  • Make cupcakes and other desserts (with special accessories)

Getting the picture? If you dream it, you can probably make it in an Instant Pot.

You Said Something About the Instant Pot Saving Money?

Yes, we certainly did! The Instant Pot can save you money in three very important ways.

1.    Make food at home rather than eating out

One of the simplest and easiest ways to save money on food is to cook at home rather than going out to eat. The blog Money Under 30 claims that the average cost of a commercially prepared meal is $13. Compare that to around $4 for a meal made at home. That means every time you cook a meal at home, you can save $9.

Saving $9 may not seem like such a big deal, but a family of four will save $36 for every meal they cook at home. If you tend to order out for food three times a week, that’s a savings of $432 every month. Not bad! Now, consider making lunch at home, too, and your savings can explode. These are the little steps that can lead you to financial freedom.

The Instant Pot makes it easy to cook at home rather than order out. All you need to do is collect a few Instant Pot recipes, (we’ll help you with that below), buy the ingredients, and then set it and forget it. After a long day when you might otherwise be tempted to order a pizza, you can toss a few ingredients into the Instant Pot instead and have dinner ready in 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the recipe.

Instant Pot Batch Cooking

One way to make cooking from home fool-proof is to batch cook. That means cooking a few recipes at a single time, then dividing them out into meals across the week. You won’t have any excuse to pick up takeout for the family on the way home when you have meals already saved in the fridge.

The Instant Pot is your all-in-one batch cooking tool. It is great at making batch cooking favorites, like:

  • Soups and stews
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Beans

It can also cook large portions of meat, including roasts and full chickens, that can then be divided up over the coming week. You can even make your favorite soups and stews and freeze them for the future.

2.    Lower your grocery bill

Not only can the Instant Pot stop you from eating out, but it can also shred your grocery bill in a number of ways.

First, cooking soups, stews, and chilis in the Instant Pot is much cheaper (and healthier) than buying these items by the can. Do you need a daily yogurt hit? Those individual servings really add up over the month. Make your yogurt in your Instant Pot instead.

If you tend to buy premade desserts or meals at the grocery store, you’ll save a lot by switching to your Instant Pot.

One of the biggest grocery savings you can snag with the help of your Instant Pot is through purchasing cheaper cuts of meat. The pressure cooker or the slow cooker setting of the Instant Pot can both turn tougher cuts of meats juicy, tender, and delicious. Top meat choices for Instant Pots are:

  • Shoulder roasts
  • Bottom round roasts
  • Chuck roasts
  • Chicken thighs
  • Top blade roasts

3.    Use less energy

Along with food prices, energy costs also continue to climb. Cooking from home may sound like a great cost-savings strategy, but using your stove, oven, and dishwasher to get your meal on the table and all the pots and pans clean afterward can cut into those savings.

The Instant Pot can save you money in this regard as well. According to Constellation, a company that provides energy-saving services, the “electric crockpot” (a category that includes the Instant Pot) is the second most energy-efficient cooking appliance in your kitchen. This energy efficiency is possible because the Instant Pot is very good at retaining heat within its seal. This means it needs to use less energy to heat the food it cooks.

Additionally, that heat stays trapped inside the Instant Pot. If you’ve ever had to crank on the air conditioning because your oven and stove were turning your kitchen into a broiling swamp, you’ll recognize even more cost savings on your next energy bill. Finally, the Instant Pot saves you from loading your dishwasher with lots of pots and pans.

4.    Bonus: more time

You’ve heard the saying. Time is money. Another way of thinking of this concept is that your time is valuable. In this regard, the Instant Pot can offer huge savings. It can take an hour or more to cook a traditional meal at home, and that doesn’t even count all the prep. While you’ll still need to chop and dice ingredients for the Instant Pot, one of the biggest benefits of the device is that it does all the cooking for you.

That means you can spend that extra time exercising, pursuing a hobby, playing with your kids, focusing on your career (which could result in more money), or just plain relaxing. Having more time will help you lead a happier and healthier life, which will pay dividends in many different ways.

Where to Find Instant Pot Recipes

Ready to try saving money with an Instant Pot? You’ll need recipes. Sure, you can find all sorts of cookbooks dedicated to Instant Pot recipes, but there’s no reason to pay for a cookbook when Instant Pot recipes abound across the internet. A simple Google search can introduce you to thousands of Instant Pot recipes, including low-cost Instant Pot recipes. Looking for vegetarian, Paleo, vegan, or gluten-free Instant Pot recipes? You can find those, too.

To get you started, here are three great sources that cumulatively offer hundreds of recipes for the Instant Pot, including everything from white rice and baked potatoes, to breakfast pastries, chocolate cheesecake, honey popcorn chicken, and so much more.

Our favorite Instant Pot recipe sources are:

 

Where to Buy an Instant Pot

Are you ready to embrace the Instant Pot lifestyle to help you stay within your food budget? Step one is obtaining an Instant Pot. Fortunately, you can find them in many popular retailers, including:

Do your research before buying an Instant Pot, and don’t forget to consider other brands that do the same thing. Pricing will depend on the size of the Instant Pot you choose, along with the features you want. It is important to note that Instant Pots can be a little pricey, ranging from $80 for basic models, up to $200 for top models.

Of course, who says you have to pay retail price? Try searching for used models on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or other local marketplaces. Many people love the idea of an Instant Pots, but then never end up using theirs. On local marketplaces, you can find barely used Instant Pots anywhere from $25 to $75. Don’t forget to haggle for a better deal!

Should You Buy an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot can save you lots of money… but only if you use it. An Instant Pot is not for everyone, and if you end up just stashing yours in the attic or garage, then it could end up costing you money. If you think you might want to use an Instant Pot, see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member for a week or two. (That friend who can’t stop raving about her Instant Pot should be happy to share.) Try some recipes, learn how to use the device, and take a look at your grocery bill. If it seems like the Instant Pot is a good fit for your life, then make the purchase and watch the savings roll in.

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