Thanksgiving – Dinner for a Dollar Style
Can you believe Thanksgiving is this month???? It’s no secret that Black Friday and Thanksgiving have become inextricably connected. So, I felt like Thanksgiving would be remiss without mentioning Black Friday. We are a pretty low consumer house, but we do love our deals – so we make lists throughout the year of the things we are going to seek out on Black Friday. A lot of times, you really can score the best prices of the year, by grabbing them the weekend after Thanksgiving. Personally, we are not willing to deal with the crowds, but with online shopping, we can now catch all the sales and skip all the lines. Winner winner, chicken dinner. Oh wait…this is November….it’s turkey this month. Got it.
In every Mom group, frugal food group, and personal finance group I am in, there is 1 question that comes up over and over throughout the year. This is it – tell me if you have seen this question asked:
Is the Instant Pot really worth it? Should I get one?
This time of year, with Black Friday right around the corner – this question really ramps up. People want to know if buying one is worth it. I have seen some of the lowest prices of the year during Black Friday, so I thought I would take time now to answer this big question.
If you are a “just the facts – cut to the chase” kind of person – I will say, the short answer is… YES!!! Buying an Instant Pot is totally worth it. You should definitely save up and buy one. If you want to know why…. read on.
I have 2 Instant Pots and love them to death.
I use them all… the… time. If you popped over to my house right now, you would see 2 pots hard at work on my counter. Marinara in one, and spaghetti squash in the other. My Instant Pots are at the center of simplifying my food routines and reducing my time spent in the kitchen. Over time, I have learned that the main way I can reduce my eating out is by simplifying my day to day cooking. If I have to spend too much time in the kitchen, I will be tempted to pick up more take-out and blow my budget.
I started out with one Instant Pot – I bought it a couple of years ago on Black Friday for a fire sale price. I fell in love, used it all the time and constantly felt myself wishing I had a second. But, no sales were anywhere on the horizon and a second Pot wasn’t really in the family budget, so I did a giant kitchen purge and sold all the extra things I wasn’t using. I saved up until I could buy a second one. I PAID FULL PRICE for my 2nd pot and have never regretted it!!!! If you have been around these parts for any length of time, you probably know by now that if I paid full price for something, (especially a duplicate) it must yield me a tremendous benefit.
So, you are probably wondering why I love my Instant Pots so much?
I thought you would never ask…
#1 – It reduces my eating out budget.
The number 1 reason that I love my Instant Pot– by far – is that it helps me reduce my eating out budget. With my IP, I can create a wide array of meals in under 60 minutes. There are a lot of things I can do in 30 minutes. It takes me 30 minutes to pick up take-out. So, anything that helps me create dinner in the same amount of time it takes me to pick up take-out, is a huge blessing in my life.
#2 – Everything is hands-free.
This is a HUGE deal for me (and I imagine it would be for many of you). There are **a lot** of things that take just as long to cook in the IP as they do by cooking traditional ways. But with rare exceptions, I don’t have to monitor the things I cook in my IP. I can throw a whole chicken in the pot and go run some errands and come back to a fully cooked chicken. Even though it takes just as long for me to cook a whole chicken in the IP as it does in the oven, I can’t go run errands while I have a chicken in my oven. A pressure cooker has the hands-free features of a crockpot, but much faster.
#3 – It dramatically reduces cooking time.
For some of my kitchen staples, I was spending way less time preparing our food. Here are my favorite examples:
- Dried Beans: about 60 minutes – Pre IP, I soaked dried beans for 24 hours and then cooked them for 24 hours in my crock-pot. That means I had to think about beans 2 days in advance. Ummmm… can anyone spot a problem here? My chances of cooking dried beans go up drastically when I can cook them in 60 min vs 2 days. Use those cooked beans to make my favorite ham and bean soup!
- Bone Broth: about 6 hours – Previously, it took 24 hours in my crockpot. I would seriously buy an Instant Pot just to be able to turn out gelatinous bone broth in 6 hours’ time. This comes in handy when illness strikes our home. If someone gets sick, I go and grab my pot and put on a pot of bone broth. 6 hours later, I have nourishing and comforting bone broth to serve my family. If you are wondering what on earth bone broth is and why I would want to serve it to my sick kiddos, check out this post here.
- Steel Cut Oats: about 10 minutes – 3 cheers for 10-minute hands-free steel-cut oats!!!
- Homemade Marinara: under an hour – that tastes like it has been simmering on the stove all day long.
- Frozen Food: about 60 minutes – This is perfect for us #forgottotakethemeetoutofthefreezer moms. Don’t raise your hand if that is you… we can’t see you, and it will just be awkward for those around you.
- Perfect Rice: every time, faster than my rice cooker did. When my rice cooker died, I didn’t replace it.
- Spaghetti Squash – under 30 minutes- that you don’t have to cut before you cook… in less than a half-hour… that is all….need I say more?
#4 – Some stuff, it just does better.
Here are my favorite examples of the stuff my Instant Pot does better than any other method I can find:
- I can make hard-boiled eggs that peel flawlessly. 3-year olds can peel them independently. 3 more cheers for food-independent 3-year-olds!!!
- It makes the tastiest refried beans I have ever had – with only 5 ingredients. I could eat them by the bowl-full.
- It takes cheap meat and renders it tender and tasty (stew meat, I am looking at you).
- For smaller families, you can cook multiple items in one pot – for instance, rice, beans, and chicken all in one pot for a delicious Burrito Bowl menu. For our family of 6, this doesn’t work well, but I know others really enjoy 1 pot meals.
***All times listed above are approximate and include the time it takes to come in and out of pressure. When singing the praises of the Instant Pot, a lot of writers merely state the cook times and conveniently exclude the time it takes the machine to come in and out of pressure. This drives me batty!!! And is one of the primary complaints I see online from people for whom the IP didn’t work. As a favor to the human race, all my IP cook times will always include coming in and out of pressure. You are very welcome…
A tool that works for me…
I use my Instant Pot for other things, but I just highlighted the major ones above. I am pretty sure you can see why I ended up with two. I am not one to be easily swayed by kitchen gadget fads. But, I can say without a doubt, my Pots have been a blessing to me – reducing my overall food budget and simplifying the time and energy I spend in the kitchen. Is it perfect? Nope! Did It have a fairly large learning curve? Yep! Did it replace all my kitchen appliances? Nope! It’s a tool. A tool that works for me. If you’re currently jammed every day at 5 pm wondering what in the heck you are going to make for dinner and you’re not able to switch that habit around other ways, it may be worth it to consider getting a pressure cooker.
You’re probably wondering… do I really need an Instant Pot or will any electric pressure cooker do?
Personally, I have never used any other brand of pressure cooker, so I cannot compare the Instant Pot to other pressure cookers. My only experience is with the Instant Pot brand pressure cooker. If you are interested in learning how the Instant Pot compares with other pressure cookers on the market, check out this blog post.
If you want to buy new, consider buying through my Amazon affiliate link here. When you purchase through this link, Amazon pays me a tiny percentage, which I appreciate, but there is no added cost to you. Please know that I have been recommending the Instant Pot to everyone for 2 years now – long before I had an affiliate link. You can be assured that I will only ever recommend things that I think will support you in your frugal, whole food journey.
What is your favorite thing about your Instant Pot?