As the old slogan says, “Set it and forget it!” The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. Whether you’re running around with your kids, running around with your pets, or running because that is your chosen form of exercise, it feels like there are truly never enough hours in the day. Sure, your favorite local restaurant delivers, but there’s no beating a comforting homecooked meal. The average commercially prepared meal costs $13, while on the other hand, the average homecooked meal costs $4.
Now, it’s true that not everyone enjoys cooking or considers themselves that good at it. However, you can make delicious, cheap, and easy meals with an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker! We’re all about making your life easier, and so we here at Sierra Pacific, wanted to share some of our favorite recipes. With each recipe, we’ll give you a way to dress it up, as well as a way to cut some costs.
For this set of recipes, we’ll be using an Instant Pot. It can do it all, from sautéing, pressure cooking, and everything in between. If you don’t have one, they are regularly on sale and come in various sizes. If this is your first time using an Instant Pot, be sure to read the instructions carefully.
White Chicken Chili
Creamy, hearty, and comforting, this recipe is a new take on a classic chili. If you aren’t a bean fan, feel free to cut back on the specified amount or omit them completely. Serve this chili with tortilla chips for a completely Southwestern meal.
2 Large Chicken Breasts
15 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
15 oz can white kidney beans (drained)
1 medium red onion, diced
15 oz can of corn (not drained)
10 oz can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilis (keep juice)
½ cup chicken broth
1 ½ tsp chili powder (you can use less if you want to cut down on spice)
2 tsp cumin
Ranch dressing packet
8 oz package of cream cheese cut into six pieces
- Place all of your ingredients into your Instant Pot bowl in the following order: 2 chicken breasts (uncooked), your drained black and white beans, chopped onion, undrained corn, undrained Rotel, and ½ cup chicken broth.
- Add 1 ½ tsp Chili Powder and 1 tsp cumin, as well as ranch packet. Stir everything to combine. Be sure to lift the chicken breasts slightly so that some of the juices will get underneath the chicken.
- Place your cut cream cheese dotted across the top of your chili. Place the lid onto the Instant Pot and seal.
- Cook the chili for 20 minutes on manual high pressure. Once the cooking is done, allow the Instant Pot to de-pressurize naturally for 10 more minutes. Then, completely release the pressure.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the mixture and shred them. PRO TIP: You can easily shred cooked chicken by placing it in a bowl and using a hand mixer. Before putting the chicken back into the chili, stir the chili. Once everything is combined, return the chicken to the chili. You’re now ready to serve.
Tip: If you want even more spice, add a diced jalapeno to your chili mixture. For more spice, use more seeds.
Money Saving Tip: If you don’t use much Cumin, buy a packet of taco seasoning. You’ll be ready for tacos and won’t have to spend money on a spice you rarely use.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing
Even if it isn’t Thanksgiving, there is something soothing about a good stuffing. (You may prefer the term dressing, but that’s an argument for another day). The good thing is, it pairs just as well with chicken as it does with turkey. And with a recipe this easy, you can have it any time of the year! This recipe takes minimal effort and will make your home smell AMAZING. Note: for this recipe, you can use an Instant Pot or a traditional Crock Pot.
14 oz bag dried seasoned stuffing mix
1 sweet onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 10 oz cans of cream of chicken and herb soup
½ cup chicken broth
1 tsp ground sage
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper to taste
- Spray your Instant Pot or slow cooker with non-stick spray.
- Add the chicken broth and stuffing mix to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the sage over the top.
- Lay your chicken on top of your stuffing mix and season with salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 hours and 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and shred, cube, or serve the breasts whole.
- You’re ready to eat!
Tip: Sage is what will give this meal a holiday flavor, but if you aren’t a fan, you can substitute for rosemary.
Money Saving Tip: Both recipes so far use chicken broth, buy a large carton of chicken broth. It will go a long way and will keep for quite some time.
Instant Pot Spaghetti
This is the ultimate in ease. You cook everything in your Instant Pot. From the noodles to the sauce. Not only that, but this is a supremely versatile dish. You can add as many veggies as you want or take out any of the veggies listed in the ingredients. Of course, you’re going to want to serve this spaghetti with garlic bread (with cheese for a real crowd pleaser).
1-pound lean ground beef
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon Onion Powder
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
1-pound Spaghetti noodles
24 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
5 Mushrooms, diced
36 ounces of water
1 can of crushed tomatoes
- Turn on the Instant Pot to the sauté setting and add the ground beef. Sprinkle in the garlic powder, onion powder, Italian Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook the meat until completely browned, breaking up any large chunks. Once the meat is cooked, you may want to drain any excess grease.
- Break your spaghetti in half and place it on top of your meat. Pour over the spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes, water, red pepper flakes, and mushrooms. Make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the water.
- Seal the Instant Pot and cook for 8 minutes on manual high pressure. When the time is up, manually release the pressure. Once the pressure is released, open the Instant Pot and stir.
- Serve immediately.
Tip: If you aren’t the biggest beef fan, you can easily substitute Italian sausage for beef.
Money Saving Tip: Pasta is essentially universal, save yourself a couple of bucks and buy generic.
There you have it. Three meal ideas that won’t break the bank and don’t require a Michelin-Star chef to prepare. When it comes to cooking at home, just get started. Not every meal will be perfect, but the money you save will be worth it (pun intended).