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How to Use an Instant Pot to Save You Money

use an instant pot

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 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
  1. heat up the pressure cooker
  2. place the food inside
  3. seal the lid
  4. set your pressure level and your cooking time
  5. release the pressure when the time goes off
  6. wait however long the recipe says for the pressure to release
  7. thoroughly clean the pressure cooker after your meal and put it away for next time

 
instant pot cooking
 

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.

  1. pour 3 cups of water into the instant pot
  2. close the lid
  3. in your settings select simply steam or pressure cook
  4. set the timer to 5 minutes
  5. 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

save 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.

  1. Take it apart
  2. Hand wash the outer lid and instant pot with warm soapy water. The inner pot and accessories can go in the dishwasher
  3. let white vinegar sit in the instant pot for 5 minutes to remove stains
  4. Use a small brush to get in between spaces
  5. Steam clean it, 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, lemon slices, on the steam mode to get rid of smells
  6. 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

Warnings

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
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:

11 Clever Hacks That Will Make You Love Your Instant Pot Even More

20 Instant Pot Hacks Every Cook Should Know

16 Genius Instant Pot Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind

Saving by Purchasing Generic Brands

Each time you go to the supermarket you’re faced with a choice, should you buy the product with the bright, colorful packaging, or the boring generic packaging. We obviously know that buying generic brands can save money but there is always the unknown factor of quality. Can we trust these spin-off brands or are they creating products that just don’t fit the mold? These are questions that every consumer has but here are some must-knows about generic brands.

In this post we’ll cover some of the top reasons you should start buying generic whenever you have the choice. As you read through these points it’s important to remember that for many people simply switching to generic brands whenever possible can mean the difference between staying within your budget for the month and needing to dip into emergency cash.

Sometimes Expensive Means Lower Quality

Whether you’re shopping for sugar cereal or even beauty products and sunscreens sometimes going with the big brand isn’t the best option. Why is that? Well sometimes companies spend so much money on brand management, marketing, and flashy bottles, and put less emphasis on the actual ingredients. This can lead to you paying more for a lower quality product.

Doctors Don’t Care

Doctors are doing it so why shouldn’t you? The interesting thing is that most consumers think that the brand name means something special with certain medication. Doctors and Pharmacists will buy the generic brands because they know that they have the same ingredients. Sometimes they just aren’t as flashy though so we have to wonder if it is alright to use them. It is important to think about what you are buying. We are talking about over-the-counter drugs here, so you can be assured that they have passed all of the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration. This is the same when it comes to buying baby formula or other nutrition based supplements.

Generics Typically Perform the Same

This is true with many things. Batteries for instance, have the same chemical make-up and will last about the same amount of time. Forget the commercials, sometimes you just have to realize that they are just the same thing, just with a fancy brand label slapped on top of them.

Does that Name Brand Water Really Taste Better?

When you are getting bottled water, you can expect that your bottled water tastes like water. That is, that it is tasteless and really the same as other bottled water. Some people get lost in the brand names though and start thinking because it comes from a famous mountain peak or lost river in the middle of who-knows-where, that it deserves more attention. The honest truth is that there are industry standards that have to be met and everyone is reaching that same standard or they aren’t hitting the market. So if you need bottled water go cheap and easy. Your wallet will thank you in the end.

What About the Chefs?

Sometimes we get this ill-conceived notion, that chefs and great cooks only buy the most expensive brand name items. This is far from true though. When it comes to getting most of the kitchen staples like flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda, chefs go generic just like your local market.

So the next time you go out to get your ketchup, mustard, or even your cereal. Remember that you are paying a lot for the label and not getting much added value in return. Don’t feel guilty for buying generic brands. All this says is that you are thrifty and have done enough homework to know that generic doesn’t necessarily mean that it is junk.

Save Money Food Shopping This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only days away and for many people that means huge grocery bills. While food shopping is a necessity, it can get quite expensive, especially with increasing food prices. Although it may seem that you’re simply destined to continue paying lots of money for your groceries every week, and especially around the Holidays, there are things that you can do to reduce the cost of your food shopping. Read through this list of pointers to start saving during your trips to the supermarket.

Plan It Out

The reason why a large number of people find themselves spending way too much at the grocery store has to do with a lack of planning. While it’s always fun to go to the supermarket and indulge your hunger curiosities, this can quickly add up. Smart people refuse to go grocery shopping while hungry to ensure they only buy food they’re going to need and use. Even though you think you might not need one, take the time to write up a grocery list before you go and stick to it during your shopping.

Eat Healthy

Although healthier food has a reputation for being more expensive, eating healthy will actually end up saving you money. While it might seem cheaper to by the less expensive soda rather than juice, keep in mind that a lot of cheap, artificial foods contain empty calories, and little or no fiber, vitamins, and nutrients (the things your body needs to function). So it’s the continued purchasing of healthy foods that will actually give your body what it needs, making you less hungry in the long run.

Know Your Seasons

You can save big when buying produce if you are knowledgeable about when it is in season. For instance, fresh corn ears are usually much less expensive during the summer than they would be during the winter months. Knowing what types of fresh produce are cheapest during the various seasons can keep you from buying overpriced food.

Use Those Coupons!

While reality TV producers have been sensationalizing individuals who have honed their couponing skills into a powerful cost-reducing force, don’t let their skill level intimidate you. The truth is that anybody can start benefiting from coupons by simply looking through their Sunday newspaper. Be aware of the sales and promotions that your local supermarket is having by staying informed, and you’ll find that you are often able to buy food for a fraction of the regular listed price if you are adequately vigilant.

Buy In Bulk

Getting a membership at a bulk shopping franchise like Costco or Sam’s Club can go a long way towards helping you save on your grocery purchases. Buying in bulk results on lower individual prices for each item, which will be easier on your wallet as long as you make sure that you use all the items that you buy. Cooking in bulk and then freezing the leftovers for later is also another handy tip for keeping your costs down.

People often find that there is no one way to save money on your food shopping, but rather it’s a combination of strategies that will result in a significant difference in the amount you spend each week. So take the time to experiment with these suggestions and figure out what works best for you.

7 Proven Tools to Help You Get Out of Debt

A mountain of debt is nothing to scoff at. It’s a huge financial burden to have a 30-year mortgage, car payments, and a few short-term loans, e.g. payday loans, title loans, etc., demanding attention every month. If there was ever anything that made you feel like you never see your paycheck, it’s paying off debts.

For that reason, many are looking to dig themselves out of the mountain of debt that builds up well above their heads. The following are 7 tools that have been proven effective at helping families get out of debt.

First, if you can afford it, pay more than the minimum payment each month. Every extra penny you put towards paying off your loans brings the end of your debt a little closer. For a short-term loan, you can decrease the term of the loan by a month or two. For a mortgage, you could reduce the term by a year or two. The latter would take considerable effort, but if you worked efficiently through the following tips, you could make it happen.

Second, make more money every month. Easier said than done right? Digging out of a sticky situation is never easy though. It requires effort. The best thing about this effort is that it improves your overall financial situation for the day you finally do dig yourself out. You can make more money by seeking a raise, promotion, alternative or additional work, or starting your own business. If you don’t go for the raise/promotion, this may mean that you put in more hours at work with the other options. A nice alternative to the extra hours is when a spouse agrees to work as well (assuming that they’re not already). Sharing the load can help get you out of debt quickly.

Third, spend less in your day-to-day life. Reduce your food expenditures by cooking at home more. Reduce your grocery bills by planning meals around coupons. Cut down on your vehicle maintenance payments with carpooling, public transportation, and selling an extra car (that you could live without). Sharing gas, using public vehicles, or getting rid of an extra car each come with significant financial gains to your budget. You spend more every month on driving yourself to work every day than you’d expect. There’s something in every aspect of your life that you could label as excess. Find those points and replace them with cheaper alternatives or save all the money by cutting them completely. You’ll save a ton of money that you could put toward debt payments this way.

Fourth, avoid replacing your debt with more debt. Taking out a second loan to pay off your first one just puts you in a hole for longer.

Fifth, refinance a loan if at all possible. After a long period of good behavior, you can approach your lender for some leniency. They can take a look at your loan again to reevaluate the situation. If you meet their requirements, you can get your interest rate reduced. In terms of a mortgage, that could mean several thousand dollars less you owe the bank. Every scoop your lender can dig off for you is a win. Seek a refinance when it’s possible.

Sixth, put a little away every month into a saving’s account. Even $20 a month will go a long ways in a year. Every little bit helps. Put away money as a buffer for upcoming payments and as a safeguard for your family. If anything were to happen to your job, you would be immediately hard put to pay off your debts, otherwise your lender could walk in and take back the value of your loan. In some cases this could mean your home, leaving you penniless, homeless, and a hundred thousand dollars poorer with nothing to show for it.

Seventh, make a budget. If you have one already, reevaluate it. Once it’s built, don’t spend a penny more for anything that’s not enumerated in the budget. Make the budget a law that you live by. If you do this, you can keep your spending to predictable amount, allowing you to save more money to pay off your bills.
As you apply these seven principles, you’ll be able to chip away a bit more at your mountain of debt. Become proactive in your debt management. The sooner you do, the sooner you can declare yourself financially independent. Once you reach that point, you can finally reap the benefits of a healthy paycheck.

How to Save Money on Food Costs

On average, American families spend just over ten percent of their yearly income on purchasing foods. If the family has a tendency to eat out, the total percentage of the cost of food for a family skyrockets.

But it does not have to be this way. With careful budgeting, planning, and a few tips on how to save on food costs, a family or an individual will be able to save thousands of dollars per year on food. The first way that a person or a family can save on food costs is by budgeting for the expense. At Check City we know that the vast majority of customers that use are payday loan services have had an expense of some sort come up unexpectedly. By implementing the concepts in this post you’ll be able to begin the process spending less on your food and being able to start setting that extra money aside incase your family finds themselves faced with an unexpected expense.

Budget For Food

Budgeting one’s income is always a smart financial move. With budgeting, an individual or family can see exactly where their money is being spent and where they can make cuts in expenditures.

This rule of smart budgeting likewise applies to the family’s food budget. By setting a limit to the overall cost per month that an individual or family is willing to spend, can afford to spend, or wishes to spend on their food costs, they will be able to begin saving money immediately on their monthly expenditure on food.

Plan Out Your Meals

After setting a budget for the money that one can afford to spend on food costs, they can begin to plan the meals around that budget. Planning the family’s meals every week will allow a provider to determine what food is being bought and at what price.

By planning out the meals for the week according to what food the family already has and by planning future meals that can all be made with similar ingredients, a family will be able to use purchased food and other ingredients to supply multiple meals. For example, the same core ingredients of that one might use to make spaghetti sauce can be used as filling for a casserole.

Make One Trip to the Grocery Store

In this way, a single trip to the grocery store can yield food stuffs that can be made into multiple meals, feeding the family for the week or until the next trip to the grocer which translates into fewer errands for food which directly translates into lowered food costs. Planning meals ahead of time also allows a family to use local grocery store coupons to direct their purchases and meal plans.

By planning for meals using the deals and coupons offered by the stores in the area, a family can create a meal plan for the week according to what food items are on sale, which will immediately cut food costs. Budgeting and planning the family meals ahead of time around local grocer deals are both ways that a family can start to save on food costs.
But those are not the only ways to cut down the food bill. Shopper tips and techniques can likewise be used to great effect by the family or individual who is consciously striving to save on their annual expenditure on food.

The first and biggest tip that experienced shoppers have learned is to avoid purchasing the big name brands of food. Choosing to buy the popular or most common food brands exposes the food shopper to sometimes incredibly high mark ups on items.

Save Some Money, Go Generic!

Even small mark ups on food items can be avoided by simply choosing to go with the generic brand over the name brand. The same can of soup with a generic label may cost ninety cents while the name brand cost a buck fifty.

This is not a huge mark up in straight dollar amount, but percentage wise it is enormous. The same high percentage mark up for things such as meat and poultry, on the other hand, can cause the unaware shopper to spend literally hundreds of dollars more per year on their protein selections.

Buy In Bulk

Another smart shopper technique that has been proven as a money saver is to buy some food items in bulk. Buying food stuffs in bulk where practical can save individual or family massive amounts of money over the course of a year on the food items they consume regularly.

For an example of how buying in bulk can save a family money, consider the price of the common staple of rice. Rice is used by many households in many different meals and can be bought in a bulk bag of over twenty pounds for as little as ten dollars where a one pound bag of rice at the same store may be marked at three dollars.

Buying in bulk on the common food items that a family uses regularly and shopping the off brands are just two ways that a food shopper can save themselves money. By budgeting a set cost for food, planning out meals and using money saving practices while shopping for food, an individual or a family can begin to cut into the ten percent of their income that they spend on food costs.

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