You Finally Bought an Instant Pot! Here Are 10 Tips on How to Use It Properly
Perhaps your Instant Pot has been sitting in the box for six months, you just brought it home, or you’re seriously thinking about making the investment. You know it’s different from slow cookers and traditional pressure cookers, and it definitely comes with a set of instructions all its own. The thing has 16 buttons to learn, after all! Settle in, and take a look at the 10 tips you need to know about working your Instant Pot safely and successfully.
1. You’ll rely on pretty much one button. Sure, there’s a poultry button, a rice button, and a multigrain button, but the one you’ll use most often is manual.
2. Don’t ignore the sauté function. Unlike a slow cooker, which cooks food through prolonged indirect heat, the Instant Pot has the ability to sauté and sear ingredients for optimal flavor. If you’re cooking something like skin-on chicken thighs, you’ll start with the sauté function to sear the meat, then add your cooking liquid, lock the lid, and use the manual button to finish out the cooking process.
3. There’s more than one way to relieve pressure. You can release pressure from the Instant Pot in two ways. There’s the natural release method and the quick release method. Once your timer goes off, you can allow it to sit and depressurize naturally, which takes approximately 10-30 minutes depending on your amount of liquid. The more liquid content, the longer it takes. The quick release method is used by manually turning the steam release handle to the “venting” position to let the steam out of the cooker for faster cooling. This method takes about 1-2 minutes to depressurize and you’ll actually see the steam releasing from the vent.
4. You always need liquid. At least one cup, to be exact. Too much liquid will weaken the flavor of your dish, and increase both the pressure release time and the amount of time it takes to get to pressure.
5. Beware of over-filling the Instant Pot. The lines on the inside of the bowl indicate how much the Instant Pot can safely hold when using the sauté function only.
6. Don’t force a locked lid. When the Instant Pot is finished depressurizing, it will automatically unlock to indicate that it’s safe to open. There’s a floating valve on the lid located by the venting knob that will drop when all of the pressure has been released.
7. Your 10-minute recipe may actually take 30. The time indicated on most recipes refers to the time it takes for the dish to cook once the Instant Pot comes to pressure, which could take 10 minutes depending on the liquid content. By the time your Instant Pot comes up to pressure, cooks the food, and then depressurizes, you’re looking at tripling the time the recipe typically says. The good news is that there’s little effort involved, and that dish may normally have taken an hour on the stove.
8. Play with the adjust function. If you want to go back and forth between functions, the adjust button will be your best friend. For example, if you’ve been cooking something on the slow cooking function for several hours and you want to bring it to a boil at the end, press the adjust button whenever you’re ready, and then push the boil button to start that process.
9. Start simple. Don’t unbox your new Instant Pot and then try to make the most complicated thing you can think of. Start with something basic like rice or hard boiled eggs to get your feet wet and get used to the venting process. Then, you can move on to fun things like beef bourguignon.
10. Invest in a few accessories. Your Instant Pot will come with a few basic accessories, but there are all kinds of goodies you can get to make your cooking process more fun and simple. Stackable metal containers will allow you to cook multiple dishes at one time, large steamer baskets accommodate eggs and veggies, and springform pans are great for lasagna and cheesecake.
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(Photos via Instant Pot)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com