25 Cheap Instant Pot Meals: Eat Well on a Budget

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If you haven’t discovered the wonders of the Instant Pot yet, you’re missing out!

I bought one over a year ago and it took me a few months to work up the confidence to use it regularly.

What seemed like an intimidating appliance has now become one of my absolute favorite tools for quick + outstanding meals!

Sure, you might feel like you’re cheating on your Crockpot at first.

And it’s true that I’ve used my slow cooker a little less since getting hooked on the speed of the Instant Pot.

Slow cooker meals still have their purpose in my life, but I am just thankful to have options!

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Benefits of the Instant Pot

If you haven’t already taken the pressure-cooker plunge, you might be wondering what’s so great about them, anyhow?

I remembered the old days of pressure cooking which pretty much turned food into a boiled mush if you weren’t careful.

But today’s digital method is much more precise and produces meals infused with so much flavor, in…an instant (almost).

Just a few of the things that make the Instant Pot a wonder-machine:

  • It produces the most tender cuts of meat (not boiled mush!)
  • Drastically cuts down on cooking time (versus stovetop/oven/slow cooker)
  • Reduces dependency on the microwave (healthier method)
  • You can use the sauté function for one-pot meals with one-pot cleanup (quickly pre-sear meats, then switch to pressure cook function to finish. Easy!)

Read next:

• How to make Pork Chops with Apples in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Green Beans with Bacon Recipe

What type of Instant Pot do you need?

The main thing to consider is your family size. For our family of 6, I opted for an 8-quart Instant Pot.

The average family can probably get by easily with the 6-quart version, however.

Although I use and trust the Instant Pot brand, I have also heard rave reviews about the Ninja Foodi pressure cooker.

Recommended tools:

Favorite Instant Pot Meals (on the cheap)

These are some of the best frugal Instant Pot meals I’ve found that are easy to make.

You’ll want to work them into your meal rotation and save time in the kitchen!

1| Instant Pot Ham and White Bean Soup

ham and white bean soup

We’ve made this white bean IP recipe over and over this fall and winter. It’s a flavor-packed and almost like vegetable soup meets ham & beans.

The best part- this recipe does NOT require you to soak the dry beans ahead of time! No stressing when you forget to do this the night before (like I always do.)

We used leftover ham from holiday dinners, but using the ham bone would be even better if you want to try it!

2| Instant Pot Hamburger Soup

economical hamburger soup recipe

Since we’ve started buying a 1/2 beef and filling our freezer instead of buying it by the pound, ground beef is a very economical staple at our house!

Hint: veggies like carrots and celery can be chopped and frozen ahead of time to make dinners like these even faster.

3| Instant Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup

Instant pot stuffed pepper soup

I’m thinking this would be a great way to use our abundance of bell peppers from the summer veggie garden.

Doesn’t it look delicious?

4| Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

chili with ground turkey and sweet potatoes

Healthy and kid-friendly; a delightful twist on classic chili. I love the idea of serving it over rice, too.

5| Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

easy tomato soup with diced tomatoes

I was excited to see that this recipe uses diced tomatoes, because it’s one of my pantry essentials I always stock up on when it’s on sale.

6| Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup meal

A hearty comfort food in a bowl – one of our family’s favorite meals.

You could also substitute turkey for the chicken. Turkey and noodles is the perfect way to use up the rest of the Thanksgiving leftovers!

7| Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

cheap instant pot BBQ chicken

Instant Pot BBQ chicken would be great served on our honey wheat buns!

8| Cheesy Ground Beef and Rice

frugal ground beef and rice dinner

This recipe takes 30 minutes or less and is simply a bowl of cheesy goodness. It’s a filling meal by itself or you could also serve on tortilla chips.

printables and checklists for meal planning

9| Ham with Veggies

ham and veggie meal

Precooked ham makes a time-saving and dollar-saving dish alongside flavorful root veggies.

10| Chicken Fried Rice

chicken fried rice in instant pot

Fried rice was one of the first dishes I learned to make as a newlywed on a tight grocery budget! Making in the Instant Pot gets dinner on the table fast.

11| Chicken Gnocchi Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)

chicken gnocchi soup with instant pot

This creamy restaurant-inspired dish can be made at home for a fraction of the restaurant price tag.

12| Broccoli Cheddar Soup

broccoli cheddar soup recipe

One of my children begs for brocolli cheese soup almost weekly. This version uses simple ingredients including my favorite Better than Buillion and matchstick carrots which make prep work so easy.

13| Beef Stroganoff

simple beef stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a classic family-friendly meal and goes well with almost any veggie or even a side salad.

14| Minestrone Soup

minestrone soup-low cost instant pot meal

Minestrone soup is one of my all-time favorites! The butternut squash gives it a nice twist on the classic, and another great way to use up extra garden veggies.

15| Stuffed Bell Peppers

stuffed bell peppers

By cooking stuffed peppers in the Instant Pot, there is no need to brown the meat ahead of time. One of our favorites!

16| Chicken Stew

Simple chicken stew

A hearty stew with minimal fuss. We almost always have a stash of frozen chicken from Butcherbox for meals like these.

17| Cheesy Potato Soup

cheesy potato soup with garnish

You can’t go wrong with potato soup in all its melty cheesy goodness.

If you cook batches of bacon ahead of time and freeze, you can get out small amounts at a time for recipes like these and save even more time.

18| Italian Sausage and Shells

Italian sausage and shells dinner

There are so many layers of flavor to this beautiful dish, and it only takes around 30 minutes from start to finish!

19| Egg Roll in a Bowl

instant pot egg roll recipe

Cabbage is a well-known frugal dinner staple, and this idea is just brilliant! The egg roll “chips” are so fun and unique as well.

20| Philly Cheese Steak Meatballs

philly Cheese Steak meatballs

I love making meatball sandwiches when we need a quick dinner; it’s simple and satisfying.

21| Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)

chicken with rice in digital pressure cooker

Seasoned rice, veggies and chicken make for a warm and tasty supper-in-a-bowl.

22| Vegetable Chow Mein

veggie chow mein

If you really want to save money or eat more plant-based foods, choose a few meatless meals per week like this vegetable chow mein – a Instant Pot meal you can make in 15 minutes.

23| Black Bean Pasta

pasta with black beans, cheese and veggies

Black beans are a great source of protein. Garnish this pasta with some fresh veggies for a complete and colorful plate.

24| Vegetarian Chili

meatless vegetarian chili

We are huge chili fans at our house, and this meat-free version includes my favorite seasoning (chipotle powder) AND cocoa powder for a rich flavor you have to try for yourself.

25| Tilapia with Vegetables

fish with vegetables steamed in instant pot

Who doesn’t love a dinner that takes 5 minutes’ cooking time? Flaky fish and fresh steamed veggies create a healthy, one-pot delight.

With an Instant Pot, cheap meals don’t have to be boring!

I hope this list inspires you to dust off that Instant Pot you got for Christmas and put it to work! It really is worth the learning curve.

You can eat well and feed your family satisfying foods, and these low-cost instant pot meal ideas prove how easy it can be.

You might also like:

• 20 Quick Dinners (that hardly need a recipe)

• Cheap lunches that kids love

• The BEST Instant Pot Green Beans

• Rosemary Pork Chops with Apples- in the Instant Pot

• Our Favorite Freezer-to-Slow Cooker Dinners

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