I used to always say that I would never get an Instant Pot. I would read blogs about how much people love them and would think “What is the point in this expensive gadget if I still have to brown the meat?” I’m a busy mom and barely have time to prepare a 30 min dinner when I get home from work! This clearly isn’t like my trusty crockpot that will cook for me while I’m out of the house. Well, I gave in, and let me tell you that I am now in love!
The Instant Pot will never produce such miracles as frozen chicken breast + a jar of salsa + a packet of taco seasoning in the morning = taco Tuesday 8 hours later! However, I’ve found several amazing “dump” style recipes that are not only easy, but also affordable, delicious, and have seriously upped my cooking game. The five recipes below are on regular rotation in our household, and I usually make at least one of them each week. If you, too, are skeptical of the Instant Pot’s powers, trust me and just try these five recipes and I promise you’ll be a believer! I’ve also included my tweaks, plus my estimation of price per recipe (please note that I shop at Sam’s Club A LOT) for your reference.
- Instant Pot Smoked Sausage, Green Beans, and Potatoes (by 365 Days of Slow + Pressure Cooking): $10
This was the first Instant Pot recipe I ever made, and we were immediately hooked! This recipe is soooo good! The only tweak I made (other than not really measuring the smoked sausage, green beans, or potatoes) was that I used sweet potatoes. You can get all ingredients anywhere, but I’ve found that if I buy from Sam’s Club I can make this dinner 2x (no shame in repeating a recipe a week or two later when it is this good!). Cutting the cost in half to account for 2x, it would come out to less than $10 total ($3.50 sausage + $3.00 sweet potatoes + $3.00 green beans) and would easily feed a family of 4.
- Instant Pot Million Dollar Spaghetti (by 365 Days of Slow + Pressure Cooking): $7
I’ll be honest… this could probably just as easily be made on the stovetop, but I do find that the added convenience of it all being in a single pot is really nice! I think that the spaghetti cooks a minute or two quicker in the Instant Pot, but it’s just so nice that you brown the meat in the pot first, then add the sauce and uncooked spaghetti and pressure cook it all together. You could stop there, but why would you when you can add cream cheese to it all at the end?! The only tweak here is that sometimes I use ground turkey instead of ground beef. I usually shop at Sam’s Club (surprise!) for my ground turkey (I get the 5 lb pack, so cost for 1/5 of the pack would be $3. I have a heavy hand when it comes to adding the meat, though, so likely add more than a pound), Prego (it comes in a pack of 3 and I use 1/2 of a jar, totaling about $1.50), and cream cheese (which comes in a pack of 4, so one brick is about $1.50), and go to Kroger for my whole wheat thin spaghetti ($1). So, this meal is less than $7 for the entire family! You’ll likely have plenty of leftovers, too.
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken (by Little Sunny Kitchen): $13
We love Indian food in this house, but right now isn’t the best time for going out with two small kids, so we’ve started making this at home and it hits the spot! If you don’t normally cook Indian food, you will need to either make your own or invest in the garam masala. I purchased this one from Amazon and love it. For the sake of the exercise of estimating the cost of ingredients for each of this recipe, let’s just say that it will make 9x of this meal, but it will actually be much more than that ($1). You likely have the garlic and all the other spices at home, so I’m not going to include them in the cost. A pack of boneless skinless chicken thighs at Sam’s Club will make 2x the recipe ($6), and it never hurts to invest in the case of tomato sauce cans from Sam’s either ($0.50). I have been burned by not using the huge carton of whipping cream in enough time from Sam’s Club, though, so learn from my mistakes and just buy a bunch of the little bottles from Kroger ($2). We serve with Jasmin rice from Sam’s Club ($1) and Naan from Kroger ($2.50). An entire Indian meal for the family for $13?!? Yes, please!
- Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese (by Pressure Luck): $6
OK, so this isn’t an entire meal but you can easily throw some frozen fish (would you be surprised if I told you that I get a bag of delicious breaded flounder that makes at least 2 meals from Sam’s Club for $13 total?) in the oven and a steam bag of broccoli (a 4 pack of steam bags that have really nicely sized florets from Sam’s is $6) and call it a night! I pretty much follow this recipe exactly, though I don’t really measure the cheese. I just use whatever I have on hand and add to it until I like the texture. I think you likely have most of the spices and twists for this recipe on hand. With noodles from Kroger ($1), shredded cheddar cheese from Sam’s Club ($4), and a jar of Better than Bouillon Chicken (you get so many meals out of that tiny jar! to be conservative, I’ll say that the breakdown is $1 for this meal) you’re looking at only $6 for this huge pot of delicious and creamy mac & cheese!
- Instant Pot Sausage Gravy (by Sunday Supper): $8
This was so easy and delicious! I’m sure sausage gravy on the stovetop isn’t hard (I’ve never really tried), but I have to think that 15 minutes to make it in the Instant Pot must be quicker. I had to purchase the Chicago Steak Seasoning ($3) that they mention in the recipe as well as the sausage ($3) from Kroger, but had most everything else on hand. Serve it on top of canned biscuits ($2) and you’ve got yourself a breakfast (or “breakfast for dinner!”) for the whole fam for only $8!
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Instant Pot possibilities! I’ve just recently started using the sous vide feature (goodbye Starbucks egg bites, hello homemade!), and would really like to try some frozen meal prepping recipes. I hope that sharing my five favorite recipes will inspire you to give the Instant Pot a try if you haven’t already!