I am lumping these two appliance together because most of the time I use them together.
Yes, I can make beans and rice and the stove. And yet, my electronic pressure cooker (actually an Instant Pot) and rice maker have paid for themselves and then some. Indeed, even though I have have one electronic pressure cooker and one rice maker bite the bullet (both after more than 10 years), their replacements have already paid for themselves.
People who are afraid of pressure cookers may want to look at the electronic models available now. They are foolproof and very safe. As a bonus, I can set mine and leave the house. Yes, I can leave the house with a pressure cooker on!
That feature, as well as the timer feature on the rice maker, is why these two appliances have saved me so much money over the years. Whenever we have to be out all day but will be home in the evening I put pinto beans in the pressure cooker and brown rice in the rice maker so that we have a hot meal to come home to, ready to dish up and eat as soon as we walk in the door (I will have made a simple cabbage salad and put it in the fridge so that we have a vegetable).
Going to a race all day? Come home to rice and beans. Spending the day visiting family? Come home to rice and beans? Going on a field trip? Volunteering at the train museum? Hanging out at the beach with friends? Come home to rice and beans! We have eliminated the on the way home meal stop that used to make our budget bleed. Since we don't eat fast food we would spend at least $25 to get food out, and often more like $40 - $50.
I estimate that these on the way home meal stops were costing us about $80 per month (probably more), based on two per month, whereas a meal of rice, beans, and cabbage costs us under $2 to feed all four of us. Let's call it $2 including electricity and figure that our savings is $76 per month. My Instant Pot was $120 and my rice maker was $155. Even if I only valued them based on their ability to prevent the one the way home meal stops these two appliances paid for themselves in just over 3.5 months.
I also use the pressure cooker and rice maker when I am home; they use little electricity and don't heat up the house. They don't stop me from being able to leave to run errands or even just take a walk. The beans and rice come out perfect every time, too. Whenever I am stumped as to what to make for our main meal, whether from boredom or being low on groceries, I put on rice and beans, thus also preventing eating out.
These two appliances have many other uses, as well. In winter I put grains in the rice cooker at night and we wake up to hot porridge which is a very cheap and healthy breakfast. I use the pressure cooker for soups, including the best split pea soup I have ever eaten, so good that all my guests rave about it. Soups are very frugal meals!
For a family who eats rice and beans often these two appliances are at the top of my money saving appliances list. Even if all adults work outside of the home the appliances can be filled and the timers set, insuring a hot meal when everyone comes home.
Next week I'll write about the slow cooker and why I think the Instant Pot is a better choice even though it costs more.