How my Instant Pot saves me time, money, and stress
Have you ever been afraid to try something new or not wanted to take the time to learn how to do something? My answer to both these questions is yes, especially when it came to owning an Instant Pot. I had heard of the Instant Pot, and actually bought one for my sister-in-law for Christmas. But, when it came to investing in one for myself it took me awhile to take the plunge. I gave excuses, “it’s kind of expensive”, “I have a crock pot why do I need this”, and “I don’t have time to learn something new”. Finally, I was out of excuses and came up with more reasons to need an Instant Pot than to not get one. After a few months of learning curve my only question was, “what took me so long?”! That was the beginning of my love affair with the Instant Pot. And I’m proud to say it has continued to this day; which is why I want to share with you how my Instant Pot saves me time, money, and stress.
If you have never heard of a pressure cooker or maybe you’re a science nerd and want to know how the magic happens, here’s an explanation from Fine Cooking on how it works.
A pressure cooker looks like a regular pot but has a modified lid that locks on over a rubber gasket to create a seal. The cooker works by raising the temperature of boiling water, thereby speeding up the time it takes to boil, braise, or steam. The trapped steam increases the atmospheric pressure inside the cooker by 15 pounds per square inch (psi), or 15 pounds above normal sea-level pressure. At that pressure, the boiling point of water is increased from 212°F to 250°F. This higher temperature is what cooks food faster. – David Joachim, Andrew Schloss, The Science of Pressure Cookers
Getting started with the Instant Pot
I remember when my Instant Pot arrived on the door step, it was like Christmas morning. It was all shiny and new as I took it out of the box. But, then sitting on the countertop it was so intimidating! What were all those buttons and knobs? And why does it have a warning that it could explode if not used properly and the pressure was too great? I’m here to tell you DON’T WORRY – YOU CAN DO THIS!
There is a learning curve to the Instant Pot just like any new kitchen gadget. And the Instant Pot isn’t like the electric pressure cookers your mom had, it has several new safety features that make it practically fool proof to use. But, do make sure you read the manual before your first time using it. This is important to know all the safety features and how to use your Instant Pot properly.
Next it’s time for a test run, but don’t worry you are just using water. You want to make sure your shiny new Instant Pot is working properly. Follow the instructions for the water test or initial test run. This will help you become familiar with some of the features you’ll use most. It’s also a chance to get over your fear of the quick release. Wait, what’s a quick release and why would you be afraid of it?? Each recipe will either have a quick release or a natural release. Quick release is when you manually release the pressure at the end of the cooking time, rather than letting it naturally dissipate and release.
With the quick release a lot of steam and sometimes water or cooking liquid will come out of the silver float valve. I recommend using a long pair of tongs to slowly push the pressure release handle from sealing to venting. This way you are far enough back to not get burned by the steam or liquid. Also it can be good to have a towel handy if you do get a little liquid spraying, but do not put the towel on top of the Instant Pot lid! Just use it as extra protection for your hand or to have for wiping the counter top. Tongs are also helpful to control the pressure release. DO NOT push the handle all the way open immediately. It’s best to slowly control it in case there is a lot of liquid spray, so you can slow down the release without a geyser of hot liquid in your kitchen.
SAFETY TIPS: When your turn your Instant Pot on, close the lid, and set it to pressure cook; steam can come out of the silver float valve next to the pressure release handle. So make sure the top of your Instant Pot is not covered or under a cabinet. Also make sure you alert everyone that the Instant Pot is running so they don’t reach over the top of it and get a steam burn!
For more tips and videos visit Instant Pot Resources.
Saving time with the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is the greatest time saver out there when it comes to cooking dinner. Not only does it cook foods faster, meals can be completely hands off. Rather than standing at my cook top and having to constantly stir, all I have to do is a quick sauté of some ingredients before putting the lid on and starting the pressure cooking process. Or sometimes a quick broil in the oven is needed to give that nice char on foods you may normally grill. Which, by the way, if you want to get that grilled flavor without a grill, get yourself some liquid smoke. I had no idea this ingredient existed until I saw it on the ingredient list for a recipe I was trying. It’s been my secret ingredient ever since for any foods that I want to have that smoky grilled flavor.
My mom has always made her pork country style ribs in the oven. Not only does it heat up the house in the summer, but takes over 3 hours. One time she forgot to get them started in time, spoiler alert: Instant Pot to the rescue! I found a quick and easy recipe for the Instant Pot. Allowing for time to come to pressure and then actual cooking time they only took about 30 minutes. Then we finished them with a quick broil in the oven.
Saving money with the Instant Pot
If you don’t already have an Instant Pot the number one money saving tip I have for you is wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Instant Pot has reliably had its best deals that weekend, and hopefully the trend continues. I got my Instant Pot on Cyber Monday for $74.95. Right now it is retailing for $119.95 on Amazon! I know it’s hard to be patient, but it is worth the wait.
Not only can you save money waiting for the right time to buy your Instant Pot, you can save money on a variety of meals and snacks. We eat a lot of hard boiled eggs at my house. One of the best things the Instant Pot does is hard-boiled eggs. Stop wasting time on making them on the stove top or buying them premade from the store where they often charge $1 per egg! You can often find deals to get a dozen fresh eggs for around $2. Then throw them in your instant pot where they take just about 15 minutes and come out perfect every time. Talk about long term savings. And they peel so easily for those picture perfect deviled eggs. I used to make hard-boiled eggs on the stove top and would struggle to get the peel to come off easily. Now with my Instant Pot the shell slides right off.
Another money saving strategy is to buy meat on sale and in bulk. My favorite entrees to cook in the Instant Pot are chicken legs, chicken thighs, and pork tenderloin. They come out so tender every single time. The chicken legs and thighs can even be partially frozen. I just stick them in the fridge to thaw overnight and even though they might be a little frozen when I go to cook I just add a minute or two and they cook up great. (Always use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is at the proper temperature). There are tons of great recipes for how to prepare these basic items, but they are almost fool proof. My experience with other proteins has had mixed results. My biggest challenge is chicken breasts; I always cut the recommended recipe time by a few minutes, but still find they tend to be a bit dry on occasion. You’ll want to do your own experimenting with your families favorites.
Less stress with the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot saves you time and money, so of course that is going to mean less stress. I know one of the things that can cause me the most stress is staring at my fridge not knowing what to cook for dinner, but make sure to always have some chicken in the freezer and you’ll be fine. I know I said chicken breasts can tend to get a little dry in the instant pot, but one thing that has saved me time and again is frozen chicken breasts. My favorite thing to make with them is salsa chicken and then use it for some quick tacos or on a tostada, and if you have a little extra – enchiladas.
Check out some of my favorite recipes and tips for using the Instant Pot here on Pinterest.
I’m exploring new frontiers with my Instant Pot, going beyond dinner. Baking your own bread at home can seem overwhelming, but checkout my experience trying it here for tips on how you can try it too. And I share my must have Instant Pot accessories here.
Stay tuned and I’ll update you when I try some desserts too! If you love saving time, money, and stress with your Instant Pot; share your favorite recipes in the comments.
THIS MOMMY TRIED IT AND YOU CAN TOO!