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Pressure cookers and pressure deals

June 6, 2010

Our new pressure cooker is giving me a lot of jollies on the frugal front.

Pressure cookers save power. Maybe only a few cents, but it adds up, you know?

And pressure cookers save a lot of time. Since the cheapest tasty protein is mostly legumes and tough meat, it makes a big difference to a busy person if you can get them cooked more than twice as fast. For example I’ve found so far that 35 minutes — five minutes to come to pressure, 20 minutes at pressure, 10 minutes to release pressure — is enough to render beef shin totally tender, and 25 is enough for dried beans (albeit with a soak first). Those are both things that previously I would only have had time for on the weekend, but which are now feasible on a week night. I also foresee a lot of soups made from odds and ends.

And this pressure cooker was cheap. About $30 I think, on one of those websites that have deals for just 24 hours. Kathy PM’ed me and said “do you want a pressure cooker for $30?” and I was all “I am hella keen on pressure cookers” and she was like “that’s good cause I got us one.”

Yet this bothers me.

Those sites are a nasty play on our psychology. We are hard-wired to take up opportunities that look as though they are about to vanish. That is the basis of all “limited time only” deals — to give an extra tweak to an offer that will make you more likely to buy. The “one day only” sites are particularly bad because they encourage you to check every day, or even to sign up to be alerted every day. And sometimes you get something great, so there’s also intermittent positive reinforcement, which is the most powerful kind for forming habits.

In my experience, usually those great deals can be had elsewhere without the pressure if you are prepared to look around. And sometimes if you check the specs of what’s on offer, you realise that the deal isn’t even that great. The price looks cheap for the product, but the product itself is inferior. Over time, this has to be a recipe for spending money you didn’t mean to spend on stuff that isn’t the best stuff you could have for that money. Those sites may have bargains, but spending lots on crap, no matter how cheap, is not frugal.

In this case I feel we definitely won, but we’ve got to stop checking those sites. Pretend I wrote a really good moral using the metaphor of pressure and contrasting good and bad here.

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3 comments

  1. Don’t forget opportunity cost – you may well have found a fine old pressure cooker at a church fair for 5 bucks but that might have been 2 or 3 car trips and 2 or 3 hours of looking.
    Don’t beat yourself up over the $30 outlay – surely the point is using your assets in a frugal manner?

    I agree re the pressure deals so that’s why I heart the magic “unsubscribe” option.

    Any taste advantages over slow cooking?


    • Hmmm, that’s true. I guess I just don’t really want to keep exercising the self-control necessary to restrain impulse spending.

      Apropos the taste vs slow cooking — pressure cooker results are definitely “brighter”. I think aromatic seasonings get boiled off with slow cooking, which is why I tend to season lightly if at all in the beginning, and season near the end with slow cooking. It’s also possible I suppose that the pressure is actually extracting more. I don’t know.


  2. “10 minutes to release pressure” — you can bring that down to 15-30 seconds by holding the pressure cooker (just off the stove) under cold tap water for about that long, and voila, rapid de-pressurization!!



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