Lazy Budget Chef: 2019

Monday, December 2, 2019

Peppermint Gingerbread Cook Ball (Ebleskiver) Recipe and $175 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Two of my favorite Christmas season cookies are gingerbread and Danish pancake balls called ebelskiver (it is pronounced able-skeev-er and spelled three different ways in English – ebleskiver, ebelskiver, aebleskiver because Danes like to complicate things sometimes.)

There are many varieties and recipes for making ebleskiver. Since gingerbread is also a Danish Christmas tradition I'm going to combine the two and make gingerbread ableskiver!

With peppermint candy chips. Because peppermint candy makes everything Christmasy and better.

The only special skills you need to make this Scandinavian treat is a stove top  Danish Aebleskiver / Ebelskiver pan like this one. I use an electric cake pop maker similar to this one which makes it even easier! (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience)


peppermint gingerbread ebelskiver cookie ball recipe
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Gingerbread Cake Ball Recipe

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How to Make Dairy Free and Delicious Croutons!

One of my favorite dishes served with any chicken, turkey, goose, or duck dinner is the stuffing!
Which is actually dressing because I don’t cook it inside the bird. Stuffing = baked inside the bird. Dressing = baked inside of the bird. The more you know, right?

So I thought that my all time favorite side dish was safe from my personal Great Milk and Dairy Ingredient Purge when I was first diagnosed with being severely lactose intolerant. Until that familiar gut punch told me differently while I was making my way through a big ol’ pile of dressing on an evening out.

Turns out the dairy was in the croutons.

It wasn't until I went on the Great Dairy Free Crouton Quest of three grocery stores in one day that I realized that the only way I’m going to get a crouton for stuffing, salads, or to top a bowl of soup is to make it myself.

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Making croutons is so super easy I’m kicking myself for not learning how to make them sooner! It is a great way to use extra, old bread or bread crusts! Here’s how.

A Quick and Easy Crouton Recipe

Thursday, November 7, 2019

How to Cook an Acorn Squash in an Instant Pot in Six Minutes or Less!

Stuffed acorn squash is one of my favorite fall dinner meals. After a few failed attempts, I discovered the trick to having the stuffing and the squash cooked equally in the oven (I can’t be the only person who dried out/singed the stuffing because the dense winter squash took longer to cook than the stuffing inside it, am I? ) is to pre bake the squash by itself for an half an hour or more before stuffing and baking the squash per the directions in the recipe I’m following.

Since my dinner meal planning usually goes along the lines of, “it’s dinner time and I need to make food immediately” I rarely cooked acorn squash in any way, shape, or form because of that pesky house long baking time.


quick and easy instant pot acorn squash recipe
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That is until one kitchen experiment later, I now know I can pressure cook a hard acorn squash in 5 to 10 minutes. Woo hoo! Acorn squash for everyone!

How to Make Instant Pot Acorn Squash the Easy Way

Friday, October 18, 2019

How to Pop Popcorn

After enjoying a bowl of popcorn during a home movie night there were quite a few unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl.

Normally I’d chuck them in the trash bin but there were about two tablespoons of unpopped popcorn kernels in the bottom of the bowl. (Tip: Once I started using a 1/4  measuring cup instead of eyeballing it when I pop popcorn, I now end up with one or two unpopped  kernels of corn.)


I looked at the unpopped popcorn kernels and remembered hearing a story about my grandmother repopping leftover popcorn kernals the next time they ate popcorn. Which in this house is alllllll the time.

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I figured I'd give repopping unpopped popcorn kernels a try. And you know what? It worked!

How to Pop Popcorn


Monday, October 7, 2019

The Best Pumpernickel Bread Machine Recipe!

When the weather starts to cool it is all the incentive I need to make my favorite comfort food dinner - 16 bean soup with homemade pumpernickel bread.

 It is also one of my favorite quick and easy dinner ideas to make when time is short because I use a dried 16 bean soup mix (you can find it here.  I suggest going with a mix that includes the seasoning) in the slow cooker and when paired with pumpernickel bread fresh from my bread machine it makes a filling meal just waiting for you when you get home from work, school, or busy fun activities. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)


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Quick and Easy Dairy Free Pumpernickel Bread Recipe

Thursday, September 19, 2019

5 Quick and Easy Frugal Way to Save $500 On Clothing This Week

This week the majority of my savings came from repairing something I was convinced we needed to replace (and I admit to using it as an excuse to replace it with something I like better just for the sake of liking  it better) and a surprise shopping spree for necessary items at the cheapest high quality store I know of – my house.

Here are this week’s money saving hacks  that saved me a surprising $500 dollars this week!

five easy ways to save five hundred dollars in a week

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5 Frugal Things: How I Saved Money This Week

Monday, September 9, 2019

Quick and Easy Mix and Match Granola Cereal Recipe

I’ve always been more of an oatmeal for breakfast kind of gal. If I indulged in cold cereal it was the oaty hippie kind but not very often because it is usually more expensive. When I discovered milk solids added to my favorite store bought cereal, I figured it was time to learn how to make my own. (grumbles at food intolerance)

Making a granola recipes is very, very easy and affordable! Especially when you make it with things you already have on hand in the kitchen. The way I do that is with what I can this Mix and Match Granola Recipe.

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I call this cheap and easy baked granola recipe Mix and Match because it is very versatile. All you need is a neutral tasting cooking oil, oats, a sweetener, and dried fruit, nuts, and other add ins if you wish, or in my case, chuck that last little bit of whatnot into the a granola recipe because I need to use it up.

How Not to Burn and Ruin a Baked Granola Recipe

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Five Frugal Things – Quick and Easy Ways to Save Money with Cheap and Easy Home Maintenance

When we bought our house, the salesperson suggested we change the filters in our heating and air conditioning system every month on the first of the month to keep it from working too hard trying and using a ton of expensive energy to suck air though a dirty filter. Doing so also helps extend the life of the unit which saves a lot of money compared to buying a new filter every month.

I don’t have kids in school but I still keep an eye on the Back to School shopping sales because it is a good time to get a deal on office supplies, small appliances (think items you use to cook in a college dorm) for early holiday shopping, and clothing – especially if it involves an end of summer clearance sale.

Of course I will save even more money if I don’t go shopping at all and most of the time I do but it’s also nice to check something off my wish list at a deep discount for some up coming events.

Here are five tips I used to save money this week.


5 quick easy cheap ways to save money every month
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Monday, August 5, 2019

How to Freeze Green Beans

Last weekend my husband and I visited his parents to help them pick and preserve the homegrown bean explosion in their garden.

You can preserve fresh green beans by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. Although I’m not personally a fan of the taste of rehydrating dehydrated green beans (though Lacey is) I didn’t even give dehydrating a thought. I don’t know how to pressure can and since I was there to do this for my mother in law instead of her doing it while I watched and learn  we were all in agreement that freezing is the way to go.


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Besides we were all in agreement that we like the taste of frozen green beans better.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Five Frugal Things – How I Saved Money on Food This Week

Most bloggers write and post their little posts on how they saved money here and there on Fridays. Which is great but honestly most of time I end up doing those little frugal hacks on the weekends when I have more time to do them. I’m trying something a little different and writing my five frugal things tips about how I saved money in big and small ways during the previous week.

Clear as mud?

Good. Let’s go!


5 frugal hacks to save money
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

12 Ways to Reuse and Recycle Can Koozies

I never really thought much of that first promotional can koozie (can Koozies look like this for reference) my husband and I got from a street festival. I chucked it into the could be useful but I doubt it we’ll use it cabinet and forgot about it until years later when I pulled a wet soda can out of a cooler with melting ice and the hostess tossed me an insulated can holder to keep me from dropping the slippery can. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links to the items I use for your convenience.)

It kept me drink cold longer in the searing heat that day too. What a concept!

After that I searched the cupboard for those two now deemed useful coolies and found that left unsupervised they multiplied like bunnies into a nice free promotional big beer cozie* family.

*Or coosie (cozy, cosie.) Or huggie. Or bottle hugger. Or beer sleeve. Or bottle jacket. Or the so awesome I can’t decide which name is my favorite: coldy holdy or the Australian stubby holder.

Whatever you call them, I have a bunch of ‘em.

And believe it or not can Koozies are extremely useful beyond their intended purpose of keeping drinks in cans, bottles, or mugs (with a little scissor surgery) hot or cold!!


12 hacks to reuse and recycle insulated bottle and can insulated bottle jacket, koozie, coldy holdy, stubby holder, cozy,
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12 DIY Can Cooler Hacks That Save Money


Friday, June 21, 2019

Pineapple Spoon Cake Recipe

I usually wait for an invitation to a cookout, BBQ, or party to bake. It’s not that baking is hard. It’s more eating one piece of homemade cake and sharing it with friends and not the entire cake by myself!

I wanted to make a cake that is so delicious that my friends at the cookout and BBQ party wouldn’t realize that it is dairy free so I can enjoy it too. Generally I just swap out the cow milk with almond milk until I remembered someone with a nut allergy was going to be there as well as someone with an egg allergy.

Can you make a crowd pleasing cake that is also dairy, egg, and nut allergy friendly? Yes you can if you make my pineapple spoon cake recipe! 


This cake recipe is perfect for potlucks because it also travels well especially if you use a glass baking dish with a lid like this one that way you don’t have to worry about the glaze leaking out from under plastic wrap that doesn’t stick to anything but itself. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links to the items I used for your convenience.)

best potluck BBQ cookout party dessert pineapple coconut cake recipe
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How to Make Dairy, Egg, and Nut Food Allergy Friendly Pineapple Spoon Cake Recipe


Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Best Baked Sweet Potato French Fry Recipe You Will Ever Make!

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by The Spice House, however, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. #ad #SummerGrilling #TheSpiceHouse

What is a grilled burger without French fries?

Lonely. That’s what.

best baked sweet potato french fry recipe
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Saturday, May 11, 2019

How to Grill Steak for Beginners

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by Hamilton Beach, The Spice House, and BBQGuys however, all opinions are my own. #ad #imabbqguy #HamiltonBeach, #TheSpiceHouse  #SummerGrilling

One of our oldest and dearest best couple friends are moving out of state to start a new adventure. As I was running Saturday errands, I got a text that they sold their house.  I decided to throw them a dinner party to celebrate that evening.

“What? Are you nuts?!” you say. No, not this time because I had an ace up my sleeve. My secret fancy but easy dinner party weapon was already in an reusable insulated shopping bag in the trunk of my car – steak.

I don’t eat steak or, red meat for that matter, very often but when I do it is grilled.  Growing up on Ohio’s North Coast, it was common for dads to trudge outside to grill steaks in the winter snow because, “steaks were meant to be grilled.”

how to cook steak the easy way
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Friday, May 10, 2019

Spicy Lentil Hummus Recipe

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by Farmer’s Pantry and Joy Jolt  however, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. #ad #SummerGrilling #CornbreadCrisps #joyjolt


Homemade hummus is one of my summer party go tos because it withstands the summer heat longer on a buffet or side table than cream based dips. I will let you in on one of my secrets to serving dips like hummus  that look super fancy with barely any effort:
Martini glasses.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Easy Grilled Maple Asparagus Recipe

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by Hamilton Beech , and The Spice House, however, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. #ad #SummerGrilling #HamiltonBeach #TheSpiceHouse

When it comes to cooking a asparagus as a side dish, I want to do something to bump up the flavor beyond salt and pepper. More often than not, I stare at the spices in my door length spice rack and get overwhelmed when it comes to combining them. That’s when I grab a spice blend like the those found in  The Spice House Best Sellers Collection because I know every spice in that bottle tastes good together and is measured in the proper amount so one spice doesn’t over power another.

Not to mention, my meal planning is usually goes like this: Hey, it’s almost dinner time and I really need a quick side dish. Better throw some vegetables on the Hamilton Beach® Indoor Searing Grill!

Because planning a recipe 2 to 3 minutes before the rest of the meal is ready is how I roll.

easy grilled maple asparagus recipe

Quick and Easy Grilled Maple Asparagus Recipe

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Blueberry Basil Martini Recipe

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by Torani and Joy Jolt, however, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. #ad #joyjolt #ToraniFlavor #SummerGrilling

One of my summer patio garden must haves is basil. It is easy to grow and versatile, which comes in handy when all of my basil plants decide they need harvesting at the same time. That’s why one my favorite summer cocktails to make is a blueberry basil martini.

The thing is, I don’t make it as often as I like because muddling blueberries is messy and fresh blueberries almost always start to go bad the second I bring them home from the store. Fortunately, there is an easy no mess solution to that – use Torani Blueberry syrup and serve it in a sturdy Joy Jolt martini glass!

Because the other reason I don’t make martinis more often is that I am terrible about accidently breaking the thin stems of my martini glasses, which isn’t an issue with the thick base of my Joy Jolt Carre glasses. See?

easy blueberry basil martini recipe
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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Grilled Garlic Salmon Recipe

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by Hamilton Beech, BBQ Guys, and The Spice House, however, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. #ad #SummerGrilling #HamiltonBeach #imabbqguy #TheSpiceHouse

One of my favorite quick and easy healthy meals to make is fish, even better when I can grill it, which up until now, I’ve had to wait until summer and hope it doesn’t rain. Thanks to our sponsor Hamilton Beach® Indoor Searing Grill (you can learn more about it here) I can now grill indoors year round! Let’s do this!

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Quick and Easy Grilled Garlic Salmon Recipe




Monday, May 6, 2019

Summer Grilling Week: Pistachio Moscow Mule Recipe

Today's #SummerGrilling recipe has been sponsored by Torani however, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.  #ad #ToraniFlavor  #SummerGrilling

Summer is my favorite season to entertain because I can easily double the space in my condo for guests by opening patio door. And since we’re all standing around outside, I might as well fire up the grill. Grilling is my favorite (lazy) way to make dinner for dinner parties!

All this week we will be sharing amazing summer grilling recipes, and our readers have a chance to win some amazing prizes from our generous sponsors.  You're not going to want to miss a single day!


summer grilling recipes and giveaway

#SummerGrilling Week


This week, we're sharing the best grill recipes and celebrating the start of summer with an amazing giveaway, sponsored by BBQGuys, Farmer's Pantry, Hamilton BeachJoy Jolt, The Spice House, and Torani.

Pistachio Moscow Mule Recipe

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

5 Easy Frugal Hacks that Saved $700 and Two Spectacular Money Saving Fails

I disagree with people who claim you have to work extra hard or give up things you like and use to save money. If you like watching cable TV/it is the only way you can stay connected to the outside world, depend upon that subscription meal box because you stink at meal planning (raises hand,) as long as you can afford it (or are willing to shift other things in your budget to keep it if things are tight,) there is no budget law that says you can’ t keep it.

Personally, I knew there were several of those habits and expenses I can afford but aren't using them, they didn’t fit anymore, or more realistically on the Someday We Need to Find a Better Option When We Have Time to Get Around to It list. Once I decided that today was Someday, I saved more money than I expected that I can happily put toward other things I like, want, or need.

5 Simple Ways I Saved Money Without Really Trying


Consider this a list of budget trimming ideas and not absolutes. If you disagree or have a better money saving idea share them with us in the comments below!


5 easy ways to save money
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Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Make Dried Tuna Fish Cat Treats

The prettiest little ginger kitten walked into my friends’ backyard last winter and told them that they are her people now. She is a very talented cat because she turned two hard core Dog People into head over heels Cat People.

I completely understood how the minute Goldie jumped into my lap and wrapped her tail around my waist. My heart both melted and exploded with joy with one little tail hug.

Or she might have figured out that I was the one responsible for her new catnip toys on my previous visit.

Quick, Easy, and Healthy Dehydrated Tuna Cat Treat Recipe


I’m having a dinner party for Miss Goldie’s parents and I do not want her to miss out on the all of the fun (although who knows what kind of secret pet party she might throw when her parents aren’t home) and decided to make her homemade cat treats. Nom! Nom!


how to make quick and easy tuna fish cat treats

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You will need these ingredients:


A can of tuna

A dehydrator with a temperature controller – I have this dehydrator and can’t recommend it enough!


Dehydrator liner trays like these are extremely helpful otherwise as the tuna dries it will fall through the trays

Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.


Step by Step How to Make this Recipe:


1. Drain the water from the can of tuna

2. Carefully flip the can onto a lined dehydrator tray and spread the tuna with a fork.


how to make dried tuna fish cat treat recipe

Try to keep the tuna fish flakes as intact as possible the best that you can. I squeezed the smallest fish flakes into a ball like shape above before I dried them. Goldie doesn't want you to waste any of that delicious tuna!

3. Dry the tuna at 160 degrees (F) for two to ten hours or more depending upon the thickness of the slices.  To be safe I let the dehydrator go overnight.

4. When the tuna is completely dehydrated, store in a covered container and treat your kitty right!

If you’d rather buy than DIY, check out the following options – and more! – below!

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Monday, March 11, 2019

How to Make Rainbow Tie Dye Cake Balls

I like my Dala horse shaped cake pan but given the limited space in my kitchen, I wanted it to make more than horse cakes. When I saw this tie-dye cake mix from the coolest and most talented cake baker in the history of ever, it came to me to use it to make a rainbow unicorn birthday cake.  (Disclosure: I am including some big bold affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)


how to make tie dye rainbow cake
Eat the rainbow!


Yea, yea I know. I usually bake cakes from scratch but in this case, it is a dairy free cake mix with vibrant colors I can only get if I buy an army of  cake coloring gels like these. I really wanted to focus on turning the horse shaped cake into a unicorn using licorice laces like these for the tail and a twist lollipop like this one for the horn.
Not to mention, I would really be nice to be able to eat a food allergy friendly cake at a birthday party – something I don’t get to do even on my own birthday. *sad face*

How to Fix a Broken Birthday Cake

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Best Ever Seasoned Salt Recipe!

It wasn’t hard to figure out that the secret to my favorite local Greek restaurants amazing French fries is that they salt the fries with seasoned salt instead of regular. So good!

Naturally I started keeping a bottle seasoned salt in my kitchen and used it to make baked French fries. Seasoned salt quickly became one of my favorite ways to flavor grilled and sautéed fish, burgers, and in recipes when I got stuck for a seasoning idea.

Until I read the ingredient label on a bottle of seasoned salt and found it loaded with an obscene amount of salt and MSG, depending upon the brand. Fortunately, with a bit of experimenting, I made a seasoned salt recipe with less salt in it that store bought, tastes just like Lowry’s Seasoned Salt (my favorite brand,) and is a whole heck of a lot cheaper to make.

Seasoning Salt Recipe


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Monday, February 11, 2019

14 Ways to Reuse Old Toothbrushes

Dentists recommend you change your toothbrush when the bristles start to bend, which means you’re going to replace your toothbrush about four times a year. That quickly adds up to a lot of toothbrushes – made from plastic or even bamboo – that you’re throwing away a year.

You’re also throwing away money because those dead toothbrushes can be useful around the house for cleaning things besides teeth.

14 Toothbrush Hacks that  Save Money and Reduce Waste


14 Toothbrush Hacks that  Save Money and Reduce Waste
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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

11 Quick and Easy Recipes that Save Money When You are Broke

My family’s cooking style evolved from the traditional American big hunk of meat main dish with little sides of vegetables and potatoes to a formula of lots of vegetables, a starch, and a protein as more of a condiment than the star of the dinner recipe show. We started with Asian flavored stir fry meals being heavily influenced by my trip to Japan and Hong Kong and grumbling bellies demanding a quick dinner ASAP after getting home from work.

We quickly learned that by just switching up the spices and often the starch (rice noodles like these cook in 5 minutes flat!,)  brown and white rice, regular and whole wheat pasta, sweet and white potatoes) we could travel the world through our dinner tables using the same main ingredients. Cheaply and healthy and getting a gold star from my doctor when I gave her my food diary. (Disclosure: I am including some affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)

Not to mention, just using a handful from several bags of fresh and frozen vegetables in a stir fry makes them last longer than dumping the whole bag in a pot and serving it as a side dish (although I still do that from time to time.) The same thing goes for meat – or if you’re running low on meat to make a full meal for a group you can always add beans, nuts, or tofu to bump up the protein content, serve it on a bed of rice, and Bob’s your uncle.

I accidentally started saving more money on our grocery bill when I started reading the weekly grocery sale flyers like a magazine each week and buying my fresh fruits and vegetables according to what is on sale which is - guess what! – shopping and cooking according to the national growing season and super cheap.



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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mix and Match Instant Pot Minestrone Soup Recipe

The first meal I made in my Instant Pot was soup. (I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)  It really hits the spot on a cold day and is a fantastic way to stretch your grocery budget by using up all of those little odds and ends in your kitchen cupboard that aren’t quite enough to eat as a full meal on their own.

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Making minestrone soup is the perfect recipe for that!

This minestrone soup recipe is very forgiving if you don’t have or don’t like to eat some of the ingredients I have listed here. Traditionally minestrone soup was made in Italy with in season summer vegetables. During the winter I usually have a cupboard full of dehydrated vegetables (the downside to having almost no longer term storage space in my freezer) that I forget to soak before I can cook with them, which makes using them for Instant Pot minestrone soup ideal – no soaking necessary!

The same goes with dried beans. Thanks to my lovely electric pressure cooker (you can find more affordable options here if the Instant Pot price is out of your budget range) I stopped buying canned beans as a backup. I pretty much never pre soak dried beans either. I just chuck them in the Instant Pot and let them pressure cook with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe.
The only exception to not pre soaking dried I’ve found to that is dried chickpeas. Soaking chickpeas in water first means I can use the 30 minute Bean setting once instead of twice.

How to Make a Cheap Eats Minestrone Soup Recipe