We’re always looking for ways to save on meals and groceries, but have you ever thought about how the way you cook food could also save you money?
- How to Use an Instant Pot
- Hot Water Test
- How an Instant Pot Saves You Money
- How to Clean Your Instant Pot
- Tips and Tricks You’ll Want to Know
How Does an Instant Pot Work?
An instant pot is basically the modernized version of a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker uses high pressure to cook the food inside. A pressure cooker is a pot that you use on the stove top, but the instant pot is an electric pressure cooker, so it doesn’t go on the stove top, it plugs into an outlet. It uses a strong clamp-down lid to seal in the contents of the pot and the heat, for some fast, efficient cooking. Now your water can boil at even higher temperatures because less heat is escaping into the air. The steam and building pressure inside the instant pot can also help your food get more moist, tender, and full of infused flavors.
In a really simple form, you can think of it as a crock pot, or a slow cooker. You put the ingredients inside, close the lid, and punch in your settings. But instead of letting your food stew in the crock pot for 4 to 8 hours, you can put ingredients inside the instant pot, close the lid, set the settings, and have your food ready in just 15 to 30 minutes.
When your food is done cooking there are two ways to release the steam inside. You can use a quick release by turning the valve at the top manually and letting all the steam out right away or you can let it go, and the steam will naturally release over time. You’ll want to use the quick release when your food is done cooking, and the natural release when you want your food to keep cooking a little longer while it cools down.
How to Use an Instant Pot
- heat up the pressure cooker
- place the food inside
- seal the lid
- set your pressure level and your cooking time
- release the pressure when the time goes off
- wait however long the recipe says for the pressure to release
- thoroughly clean the pressure cooker after your meal and put it away for next time
Hot Water Test
Understanding how an instant pot works is important if you’re going to start cooking with one. It is a different type of cooking since you aren’t just using heat from the stovetop or oven, you’re using pressurized heat and steam. Because of this instant pots come with their own science of cooking that you’ll want to become acquainted with before you begin using your new instant pot.
To help you understand what happens inside your instant pot while it’s cooking you can do the hot water test. The hot water test will show you how the pressure cooker works, and how much water evaporates as it cooks. Depending on what you’re cooking inside the pot, you will probably need less water than you’re used to.
- pour 3 cups of water into the instant pot
- close the lid
- in your settings select simply steam or pressure cook
- set the timer to 5 minutes
- when the timer goes off, turn the valve to release the pressure
Now you can see what happened to the water. Measure it and see for yourself how much water evaporates in a pressure cooker as opposed to a pot on the stovetop.
How an Instant Pot Saves You Money
Have you ever felt the struggle of wanting to eat well, but not having the amount of time necessary or the energy to spend cooking healthy, real meals every day? We know that eating healthy has so many obvious, long-term benefits, but in our busy day-to-day lives, it can be a real struggle to eat right. Money and time constraints get in the way and we end up buying another frozen pizza or eating out again. Thankfully, with the instant pot, eating right doesn’t have to take more than 20 minutes of your time.
By eating healthier every day you’ll have better health. Staying in good health can really save your wallet. Being healthier means you’ll feel more energized, get sick less often, avoid missing work, keep your medical bills low, and keep the doctor away, as the saying goes.
An instant pot can help you save while stocking your pantry as well. Cooking with the instant pot can bring you back to cooking basics, helping you eat simpler, more satisfying meals. You can easily and quickly cook rice and even dry beans! Eating this way is also ultimately cheaper. It’s cheaper to keep your pantry stocked with the basics (like rice, beans, potatoes, seasonings, and sauces etc.) that you can use to make many different kinds of meals throughout the week, rather than pay for a full meal at a fast food place.
If you need any help with the food bill this week while you wait for an inconveniently placed payday, you can always get a Check City Personal Loan to tide you over.
- Miss work less often
- Spend less on medical bills and doctor visits
- Spend less time cooking meals and more time on other pursuits
- Spend less on groceries
How to Clean Your Instant Pot
After eating your yummy, healthy, homemade meal, it can be tempting to leave the dishes undone and move on to other things. But try and not wait too long after using the instant pot to clean it out, because letting thing crust over will only make it harder to clean later.
- Take it apart
- Hand wash the outer lid and instant pot with warm soapy water. The inner pot and accessories can go in the dishwasher
- let white vinegar sit in the instant pot for 5 minutes to remove stains
- Use a small brush to get in between spaces
- Steam clean it, 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, lemon slices, on the steam mode to get rid of smells
- Dry and put back together
Tips and Tricks You’ll Want to Know
- Replace sealing rings
- You can get accessories like a glass lid so you can see inside
- Bring your instant pot camping or on vacation, all it needs is a power source to cook
- You can cook freezer meals
- You can make popcorn
- Get meal Tupperware and prep your meals for the week ahead of time
- Reheat in the instant pot instead of the microwave using the warm setting
- Use the rack to cook 2 things at the same time, like meat and veggies, or do pot-in-pot cooking
- Use the curved end of the ladle to safely turn the release valve without getting your hands too close to the steam.
- You can rest your lid upright by putting the handle of the lid into the rectangle opening of the handle of the pot.
- To cook even faster, use already hot water in your instant pot so it comes to pressure even faster
- Make a tin foil sling to put under the pot your putting in the pot so that you can easily lift your pot out
- Get more than one stainless steel insert
- Use some handy time-table charts to know how long things should cook
- You can turn the instant pot onto saute mode before you put your ingredients inside in order to get it heated up and cook faster
There are some warnings to be careful of when working with an instant pot. There are also some things you just can’t do with a pressure cooker, but don’t worry. What you can do with a pressure cooker still far outweighs what you can’t.
- Be careful you don’t overheat it
- Be careful of the steam
- Keep it off of hot surfaces
- Don’t put the appliance in the dishwasher
- Don’t fill it more than 2/3
- Don’t open the lid until it’s completely depressurized
- Don’t make fried foods in a pressure cooker
- Milk will curdle in the pressure cooker
Read more about how to save money on groceries, “How to Save Money on Food Costs.”
Find some great basic instant pot recipes, “6 Basic Instant Pot Recipes.”
Read more about Instant Pot hacks by reading the following articles: