Can you save money using an Instant Pot? Does it help you cook frugally while eating healthy? I put my Instant Pot through 9 months of testing before I gave this honest review. From Cheapskate Cook

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Did you jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon yet?

Every single time I hop on Pinterest I see a post about “200 Best Instant Pot Recipes” or  “75 Whole30 Instant Pot Meals,” or “50 Ways to Eat Vegan with the Instant Pot.”

Honestly, I didn’t want an Instant Pot. Posts like that overwhelmed me – I never want to scroll through 200 recipes for one appliance.*

It felt like a First World frenzy. People raved about this hot new kitchen tool, and when they finally got their $100+ appliance they were too intimidated to use it.  

However, 9 months ago, I mysteriously received the Instant Pot Ultra 6-quart, 10-in-1 (affiliate link) in the mail (go here to see the unboxing video). There was no hint about who sent it – only a note that read: “I can’t wait to see what you make!”

Challenge accepted.

Now I had an Instant Pot, and I knew it could make at least 325 meals. But could it help me keep my kitchen frugal?

Githeri (Kenyan Corn & Beans) - In America, it’s easy to feel discouraged about healthy, frugal eating. Our classic cheap food consists of macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and freeze-dried ramen noodles. But look outside our borders and you’ll find an endless supply of flavor town. This East African inspired dinner is frugal, easy to prepare, and loaded with real food. It's also vegan, vegetarian, freezer-friendly, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

3 Goals

When it comes to our food at home, I have 3 goals:

1. Health

Does this recipe/tool/whatever help me cook food that’s going to help us live well?

2. Frugality

Will this help me make good use of my resources – money, time, energy, etc?

3. Taste

Because if it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t matter.

Big Concerns

Programmable pressure cookers concerned me for several reasons:

Can You Cook Frugally?

Most of the IP recipes I saw on Pinterest were for Mongolian Beef, ribs, or other meat-heavy meals. Could I cook flavorful meals that were loaded with vegetables and other frugal real foods?

Does it Really Save Time?

Sure, you only have to set it for 2 minutes to steam carrots, but it takes at least 15 to preheat and 10 more to release the pressure. That suspiciously adds up to the same amount of time without a pressure cooker.

Can’t I Just Use the Slow Cooker?

I mean, it accomplishes the same task – I just have to start it in the morning, right?

Mixed dry beans

Testing, Testing

Over the coming months, I used the Instant Pot constantly.  I’ve tried all kinds of recipes with it – meatless, paleo, frozen meat, whole chickens, yogurt, etc.

I know every other blogger is talking about the Instant Pot, but I didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon. You are trying to save money and eat healthy. That’s why you come to this website. I won’t recommend a pricey appliance if it’s not going to make a huge difference in your wallet or your kitchen life.

Here are My Conclusions:

Can You Cook Frugally?

YES. In fact, we’ve eaten more plant-based meals in the last 9 months than ever. And many of the frugal real food staples – bone broth, beans, yogurt, and whole chickens – are a snap with the Instant Pot. We’ve never eaten so well and so frugally.

Does it Really Save Time?

Absolutely. Bone broth used to take me 12 hours to make in the slow cooker or stove top. Now I can start it in the morning and serve soup for lunch. Dry beans used to take 5-24 hours (including soak time). Now I can cook them in an hour without even soaking.**

Even more appealing to me than saving time, is saving brain-space. Once I press “Cook”, I don’t need to think about dinner again until the pressure cooker beeps. Nothing’s going to burn. Nothing’s going to boil over. I’m DONE. So I guess I have some time to scroll those 325 recipes on Pinterest.

Can’t I Just Use the Slow Cooker?

You can, but I like the way food tastes when it’s pressure-cooked rather than slow cooked. My chicken has never tasted so tender and perfect.

The Instant Pot is also type-B proof. I know in my head that if I just start dinner in the slow cooker in the morning, I’ll have a meal at dinner time. And that works, sometimes. But most mornings… no. Just no.

Granola with yogurt

More Ways the Instant Pot Saves me Money:

More Meals at Home

Because it’s the ease of the slow cooker at the speed of light, I can make simple one-pot slow cooker dinners without babysitting the stove or oven. Between work, school, painting our new house and packing the old one, this is a game-changer. 

More Meatless Meals

Like I said, beans and bone broth are easier to make than they’ve ever been. As a result, we eat a lot more of both.

How to Convert Your Soup Recipes to the Instant Pot

You might like this video I made about how you can convert your favorite soup recipes to work in the Instant Pot!

An Important Note:

Do you NEED an Instant Pot to cook frugally, get dinner on the table, or make beans from scratch?

Absolutely not. People have been cooking real food from scratch for thousands of years. However, we have other demands on our time now. We have different expectations than our mothers did. The Instant Pot helps me bridge the gap between good food made from scratch and my modern work-at-home-homeschool-mom life. A programmable pressure cooker won’t do that for everyone. Do what works for you!

If you think the Instant Pot can help you save money and eat healthy, you can get it here (affiliate link)!

Can you save money using an Instant Pot? Does it help you cook frugally while eating healthy? I put my Instant Pot through 9 months of testing before I gave this honest review. From Cheapskate Cook

*Thumbing through a beautiful cookbook is different – I read cookbooks like novels.

**Some people claim that you should always, always soak beans. Baby steps, guys. I’m just happy dinner is on the table.