If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen your family and friends post pictures of their Instant Pot meals.
I’ve been using the programmable pressure cooker since the middle of last year and can say that it’s saved me a lot of time and money. The kitchen gadget is so easy to use that I don’t mind throwing together dinner after a long day.
Although I regularly use my Instant Pot already, I recently challenged myself to cook with it for two weeks straight.
Instant Pot challenge: What I learned from cooking with my Instant Pot every day for two weeks
There’s a bit of trial and error involved with pressure cooking, so I’ve decided to share my journey with you and hope that maybe it will help you prepare budget-friendly meals at home.
Here are seven things I learned from my Instant Pot challenge…
1. Skip the stovetop and use the sauté function
The Instant Pot is so much more than just a pressure cooker. It’s also a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer.
Aside from the pressure cooker function, I use the sauté button most frequently.
Several of the new recipes I tried required both the sauté and pressure cooker functions. I started by sautéeing vegetables in the pot, then added the rest of the ingredients and switched to pressure-cooker mode.
That means there’s just one pot to clean at the end of the night — the Instant Pot’s stainless steel inner pot.
2. You can cook pasta in a pressure cooker
I never really thought about making pasta in the Instant Pot until I saw this recipe for vegan macaroni and cheese.
If you like your pasta cooked al dente, this might not be for you. It turned out more on the well-done side after 10 minutes of cooking and a 10-minute natural pressure release.
The best part was not having to babysit the stovetop while waiting for water to boil. The Instant Pot makes it easier!
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DAY 6 📆➡️ MAC AND CHEESE 🧀 There's no need to stand around and wait for water to boil when you make macaroni and cheese with the #InstantPot! This is a #vegan version, but you can use real milk and cheese just as easily. The noodles take 10 minutes to cook, followed by a 10-minute natural release. Thanks to @detoxinista for the inspiration! 👇👇 Here's what you'll need for the vegan recipe 📝 ✅ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours* ✅ 4 1/2 cups water, divided ✅ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast ✅ 2 teaspoons fine sea salt ✅ 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice ✅ 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar Drain the cashews and toss them in a blender with 2 of the 4 1/2 cups of water & the other ingredients. Pour the other 2 cups of water in the blender, stir it around to get all the seasoning and add to the Instant Pot. Add the last 1/2 cup of water after the release. Time to eat! 😋 #clarkyourlife #macaroniandcheese #veganfood . . . . #goals #savemoney #moneymotivated #foodgram #food #mealprep #mealplan #healthychoices #eatwell #moneymotivated #healthyfood #deliciousfood #savings #budget #cash #savingmoney #success #motivation #mealplan #healthylifestyle #cookingathome #foodlover #healthymeal #veganfoodshare #healthyliving
3. Make use of the rice button
If you like to eat white rice, the Instant Pot’s rice program is your kitchen helper. I just put equal parts rice and water into the pot and pressed the rice button, which takes the guesswork out of setting the cook time.
You can manually set the time if you prefer, but the button is the easy way to do it — and the rice turned out so fluffy.
4. Pressure cooker soups are sure to be a hit
I tried a handful of soup recipes in my Instant Pot over the past two weeks and this lentil soup recipe from Pass the Plants was my favorite.
The soup cooks in just three minutes after it comes to pressure, so it took about 30 minutes including prep time.
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DAY 5 📆➡️ LENTIL SOUP: This one is a #winner! Two types of lentils, potatoes, spinach, carrots, onion, garlic and spices are the main ingredients. The best part? You only set the #InstantPot for 3 minutes on manual, followed by a quick release. Thank you to @passtheplants for the quick and easy recipe! #clarkyourlife #yum #healthyliving . . . . #goals #savemoney #tips #financialfreedom #moneymotivated #foodgram #food #mealprep #mealplan #healthychoices #eatwell #moneymotivated #healthyfood #deliciousfood #savings #budget #cash #savingmoney #success #motivation #mealplan #healthylifestyle #cookingathome #foodlover #healthymeal
5. Instant Pot oatmeal will save you time
It doesn’t get much simpler than this recipe! I put 1 cup of oats and 3 cups of almond milk into the pot, set it for four minutes and let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
By the time I was out of the shower, breakfast for the next few days was ready.
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DAY 7 📆➡️ OATMEAL: There are only two ingredients needed for this #InstantPot #recipe: steel-cut oats and almond milk or water. I put 1 cup of oats and 3 cups of almond milk into the pot, pressed the manual button and set for 4 minutes, followed by a 10-minute natural pressure release. Just add your favorite toppings and #breakfast is served! #clarkyourlife #yum #healthyliving . . . . #goals #savemoney #tips #financialfreedom #moneymotivated #foodgram #food #mealprep #mealplan #healthychoices #eatwell #moneymotivated #healthyfood #deliciousfood #savings #budget #cash #savingmoney #motivation #mealplan #healthylifestyle #cookingathome #foodlover #healthymeal
6. Homemade hummus just tastes better
Hummus probably isn’t the most expensive thing in your grocery cart, but you can still save money by making it at home.
I’ve tried to make hummus before, but it didn’t taste anything like this recipe from Instant Pot Eats. It’s the best hummus ever! You cook the chickpeas in the Instant Pot and use a blender to make a smooth, creamy dip.
If you’re having people over for the Super Bowl or any other occasion, you can’t go wrong with homemade hummus.
7. Don’t give up your regular slow cooker
I used the Instant Pot’s slow cooker function to make red wine hot chocolate for the challenge and it was delicious. But past experience taught me to keep my old Crock-Pot around.
I can’t explain why, but I think the Instant Pot’s slow cooker mode doesn’t work as well as a regular slow cooker.
If you’ve had a different experience or can do a better job of explaining the difference between an Instant Pot and Crock-Pot for slow cooking, leave me a comment below.
When I added up my receipts from the grocery store, I spent a total of $138.08 for the ingredients to complete my 14-day Instant Pot challenge — and I have plenty of leftover ingredients to follow these recipes again.
If you’re interested in any of the recipes, you can read more about what I made on Clark’s Instagram page:
- Day 1: Black Bean Soup (Recipe)
- Day 2: Rice
- Day 3: Steamed Broccoli
- Day 4: Purple Potatoes
- Day 5: Lentil Soup (Recipe)
- Day 6: Mac & Cheese (Recipe)
- Day 7: Oatmeal
- Day 8: Red Wine Hot Chocolate
- Day 9: Hummus (Recipe)
- Day 10: Butternut Squash Soup (Recipe)
- Day 11: Quinoa Burrito Bowl (Recipe)
- Day 12: Spaghetti
- Day 13: Split Pea Soup (Recipe)
- Day 14: Leftover Ingredients
If you’re someone who struggles with meal planning, a challenge like the one I followed can help you get in the habit of preparing meals at home, which is the real secret to saving money — not the Instant Pot itself.