One reason that people have trouble transitioning to “reduced-waste” (let’s not even go for zero-waste yet) living is the convenience factor. Take beans, for example. Many of us have gotten used to the convenience of canned beans. Need chickpeas on a salad? Open a can! Making five-alarm chili? Open a few cans!
A can of beans costs about a dollar to a dollar and a half, so why bother buying beans in bulk, even though they are a little cheaper? While the aluminum cans can be recycled in most communities, there are questions about the future of aluminum recycling, including its environmental impact. Additionally, the cans are just unneeded, extra packaging.
However, cooking dried beans, while not difficult, is time-consuming. Most cooks recommend soaking beans overnight before cooking to reduce cooking time and to help with digestion. But even after soaking, most beans need to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour or more. Again, not difficult—but not as easy as opening a can. Our household consumes a lot of beans, so we easily go through 4-6 cans a week.
All that changed for us a few months ago when we bought an Instant Pot! This multi-cooker has a pressure cook function that turns dried beans into delicious (not canned-mushy) cooked beans in just 30 minutes.
I admit to being scared to use a pressure cooker at first—many people have documented Instant Pot purchases that sit in the box for weeks or months because of this same fear. But once we tried it, we were amazed at how easy and safe it is. While we have used it to cook a variety of meals, my favorite use is to cook beans. It is quick, stress-free, and the texture is great. You can even season the beans as you cook them just like you would if they were simmering on the stove.
So if you bought an Instant Pot during a sale-frenzy but have yet to try it out, now is the time! While you are enjoying your chili or hummus or lentils, you can also enjoy the fact that you are reducing waste.