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 [Credit Union Name], 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.
Take some time to look at the grocery store circulars or online deals to see what is on sale for the week. Once you know what meats and seasonal fruits and vegetables are being offered at a good price, you can research recipes to maximize your meal planning options for the season. These prices tell you how much they are by amounts so you can compare with your recipes to determine your budget before you’re in the store.
Check out meal planning resources via a Google search and on sites like Pinterest. There are meal preps and plans available from home cooks and more popular sources like Food Network. Be willing to try new recipes and look into meat-free recipes to conserve your funds. There are plenty of cost-effective options that can be a good source of protein.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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