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Five of My Favorite Frugal Instant Pot Recipes


A few months ago, right around the holidays, several of my favorite personal finance bloggers took to Twitter to announce that they were the proud new owners of Instant Pots - high-tech pressure cookers that are all the rage in the cooking community. (I'm making that up. I know nothing about the cooking community. The cooking community may, in fact, harbor a deep resentment towards Instant Pots.)

I've been an Instant Pot fan since we purchased ours three years ago while living in an RV, and I enthusiastically replied to my blogger friends to let them know that I'd share some recipes with them.

And then I... shared nothing with them. I'm a slacker.

But! Now that I have a few days off (to, you know, manage my mental breakdown), I've decided to share five of my favorite Instant Pot recipes. 

These recipes are:
  • inexpensive!
  • fast!
  • healthy!
  • vegan/vegetarian!
  • great for leftovers!
  • easy to make while you're also trying to get other things done!

They're also not fancy AT ALL, so if you're looking for that... you might want to find a real food blogger.

The five recipes I'm sharing today are:
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Spicy Rice
  • Garlicky Black Beans
  • $76K Soup (aka vegetable soup with rice)


Disclaimers



My Instant Pot is three years old. It's possible that yours is newer and better and has a slightly updated design. ALSO: Instant Pots are easy to use, but they create high pressure and steam. Both can be extremely dangerous. It's up to you to know how to use your Instant Pot safely. For example, sticking your face right over the steam vent when you release it is a terrible idea. Don't do that. Read the user manual if you're setting up your Instant Pot for the first time. 

Also, if you're scrolling through this post and thinking, Damn, 76, these pictures are shit... Well yeah. I'm not a food blogger or a photographer. My phone camera is about five years old and the lens is damaged. Remember, we're aiming for frugality here! 

Lastly, you'll note that I don't give serving sizes. I'm basically sharing the amounts that I make for my own 3-person family. My husband is a big guy, my kid is a ravenous pre-teen, and I have the appetite of a linebacker. We like to eat, so what we consider one portion size is probably larger than what many other people consider one portion size. Whatever. If you end up with extras, stick them in the fridge and eat them as leftovers.


What if I don't own an Instant Pot?



If you read this post and get inspired to buy your own Instant Pot (you should, it's awesome), consider purchasing one via this link. This is Frugal Pharmacist's Amazon affiliate link. Frugal Pharmacist is a blogger, pharmacist, and mom whose little boy Uriah is currently undergoing treatment for a rare childhood cancer (you can read his story here). The personal finance community is using her affiliate link as one way to help show support for her family. For additional ways to donate, check out this page


Tools of the trade



You'll need an Instant Pot, obviously. For some recipes, you may also need a steamer basket or a steamer rack:


For the recipes shown here, you'll mostly be using the Manual button (on newer models, the equivalent button is the "Pressure Cook" button):


The other thing to keep in mind is that the valve on the top of the Instant Pot needs to be sealed for all of these recipes. You'll unseal the valve to vent steam. If you don't put the valve in the sealed position, the steam will just vent continuously. That means pressure won't build up, and your food won't cook. (Note that not all recipes call for the valve to be placed in the unsealed position - it just depends on what you're cooking and how quickly you want to cook it.)

Valve in sealed position:


Valve in unsealed position:



Let's get cooking, shall we?


Steamed Broccoli



What you'll need:
  • Steamer basket
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 heads of broccoli
  • Salt and/or pepper to taste
Time needed: ~10 minutes 

How to make it:

1. Separate the broccoli florets into bite-size pieces (whatever that means for you).
2. Cut the broccoli stems into ~1/2-inch slices.
3. Place the steamer basket into the Instant Pot. Place the broccoli into the steamer basket.
4. Add the 1/2 cup water.
5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Make sure the valve is in the sealed position. Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" depending on your Instant Pot model.
6. If you like your steamed broccoli pretty crisp, bring the time down to 0. If you like it a little softer, bring the time down to 1.
7. Let the Instant Pot do its thing. It won't take long at all, so don't wander off too far. Wait until it beeps to indicate it's done.
8. Stand back and use the end of a wooden spoon to release the vent valve. This will release A LOT of steam.
9. When the Instant Pot is done venting, open the lid.

Recommendations: Add some salt and pepper and eat the broccoli as a side. I also like to slice up some veggie sausages (of course, you can use carnivore sausages instead), fry them up, and mix them with the steamed broccoli for a protein- and veggie-rich meal.

Before:


After:




Mashed Sweet Potatoes



These are the best things EVER. Super fast, super easy, and they never fail to impress. Here's a preview:


What you'll need:
  • Two medium to large sweet potatoes 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup milk or milk alternative (I like to use almond milk)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Steamer rack
Time needed: ~35-40 minutes 

How to make it:

1. Wash the sweet potatoes. Leave the skin on.
2. Cut the sweet potatoes crosswise. Then cut each piece once along its length. Here's how they should look (sort of - I was using the wrong knife, so I really bungled this... But guess what? It doesn't matter! It still works!)


3. Place the sweet potatoes on the steamer rack flesh side down.
4. Add 1 cup water.
5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Make sure the lid is in the sealed position. Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" depending on your Instant Pot model.
6. Adjust the time to 10 minutes.
7. Let the Instant Pot do its thing. When it beeps to indicate it's done, ignore it. Let it sit for 10 more minutes.
8. After the 10 minutes are up, release the valve. Very little steam should emerge at this point.
9. Open the lid. The sweet potatoes should be fork tender. 
10. Peel the skin off. Yep, it'll come straight off, like so:


11. Place the peeled sweet potatoes in a bowl. Mash them with a fork. Add the salt and almond milk. 


12. Mash it all up a little more, and... done!

Recommendations: Add more or less salt and milk to taste. You can let these cool and store them in the fridge for later. They heat up nicely in the microwave or on the stove.


Spicy Rice




You can make perfectly cooked, tasty rice in about 30 minutes using the Instant Pot. For flavoring, you can use a bouillon cube OR a little salt OR some salsa (shown above - salsa's great if you want a kick). Regardless, it's super easy.

What you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups dry brown rice
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube OR 1/2 cup salsa OR salt to taste
  • Water:
    • 3 cups if you're using a bouillon cube or salt
    • 2.5 cups if you're using salsa
Time needed: 40 minutes

How to make it:

1. Dump the rice into the Instant Pot.
2. Add the salsa or bouillon cube.
3. Add the water (see above for amounts).
4. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Make sure the lid is in the sealed position. Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" depending on your Instant Pot model.
5. Adjust the time to 23 minutes.
6. Let the Instant Pot do its thing. When it beeps to indicate it's done, ignore it. Let it sit for 10 more minutes.


7. After the 10 minutes are up, release the valve. Very little steam should emerge at this point.

Recommendations: Use this for rice and beans, tacos, rice casserole, whatever you usually use rice for. The rice stores very well in the fridge. Make a big batch on Sunday, and eat the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.

Need to adjust the amount of rice you're making? No problem. Just maintain a 1:2 ratio between the rice and the liquid. For example, if you measure out 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups of liquid (salsa counts as part of the liquid in this recipe).


Garlicky Black Beans



Canned black beans are inexpensive, but I'd argue that they're not as tasty as black beans made from scratch. This recipe cuts the cooking time - from dry beans to ready to eat - to about an hour and a half.

What you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups dry black beans
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups water
  • Optional: hot sauce of your choice

Time needed: 80-90 minutes

How to make it:

1. Rinse the beans and remove any rocky bits or weird-looking pieces (occasionally you'll find little pieces of gravel in a bag of beans - totally normal).
2. Chop the garlic into little pieces.
3. Add the beans, garlic, and bouillon cube to the Instant Pot. Pour in the water. Add a few splashes of hot sauce if you're into that.
4. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Make sure the lid is in the sealed position. Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" depending on your Instant Pot model.
6. Adjust the time to 60 minutes.
7. Let the Instant Pot do its thing. When it beeps to indicate it's done, ignore it. Let it sit for 15 more minutes.
8. After the 15 minutes are up, release the valve. Very little steam should emerge at this point.

I don't know how to make beans look attractive in a photo, but they taste good.


Recommendations: I like to serve these with Spicy Rice or quinoa or in Buddha bowls (basically a bowl of rice or quinoa plus a variety of veggies and protein). The beans store well in the fridge and make great leftovers.


$76K Soup




What you'll need:
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 12 new potatoes (new potatoes = small potatoes)
  • 1 cup of dry brown rice 
  • Hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 8 cups of water
  • Handful of chopped kale or spinach (optional)

How to make it:

1. Wash the carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes.
2. Cut the carrots into thin slices. Cut the potatoes into 4 quarters. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Chop the garlic.


3. Dump the veggies into the Instant Pot. Add the rice.
4. Drop in a bouillon cube. Add a few splashes of hot sauce, if desired.
5. Add the 8 cups of water.
6. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Make sure the lid is in the sealed position. Select "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" depending on your Instant Pot model.
7. Adjust the time to 30 minutes.
8. Let the Instant Pot do its thing. When it beeps to indicate it's done, ignore it. Let it sit for 20 more minutes. (A lot of water = a lot of steam, so I like to give soups some extra time to simmer down - HA! - before releasing the valve.)
9. After the 10 minutes are up, release the valve using the end of a wooden spoon. Be prepared for some steam.
10. If you're adding kale or spinach, toss it into the soup and latch the lid back into place for two minutes. The heat will wilt the greens so that they're tender enough to eat.
11. Add additional salt to taste.

What's your favorite Instant Pot recipe? 

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4 comments:

  1. Whenever I come across posts like this, I always hope my Crockpot finally dies. ;) Thanks for sharing. I'm filing this away for future use!

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    Replies
    1. We had a Crockpot for years and loved it - I think it does a little better than the IP with low-temp, slow-cooked stuff.

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  2. We don't have an instant pot but I sure find the things interesting. I convinced Mrs. Done by Forty that we should get a sous vide cooker a few years ago so I think I need to wait a bit longer before bringing a new appliance into the kitchen...but when I do, maybe it'll be the IP. :)

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  3. We were given an IP and we love love love it! Use it basically every day. Since having a baby it has been a lifesaver, we cook everything in it.

    ReplyDelete