I was folding the laundry and putting away the day’s school papers one lovely afternoon. The kids were all off doing their own thing and the toddler was playing with trains as the baby babbled and practiced his pincer grasp on some bits of cereal. Suddenly my son burst in the front door, all rosy-cheeked and loud, and ask-yelled “What’s for dinner, Mom!”
Doh! I smacked my forehead and realized that, once again, I’d forgotten to thaw the chicken.
This is not a rare occurrence in my home. I mean, not to brag on my homemaking skills or anything, but I have the local pizza delivery guy on speed dial for just such occasions.
I forget to thaw the chicken
I forget to turn on the crock pot
I forget to do the meal planning
I forget to go grocery shopping
I forget they need to be fed every. single. day.
I am always on the lookout for ways to save time and energy in the kitchen and cope with my mom-brain. I have become quite the master of coming up with the quick dinner or just pulling a lazy-mom maneuver and pouring cold cereal.
C’mon. You’ve done it too.
One day I was at a family event and my sister started talking about her new favorite kitchen toy, the Instant Pot. My mom chimed in and said she had one too and loved it. They said it made rice. I nodded and smiled. They said it was a slow cooker. I perked up. They said it was a pressure cooker and could even make yogurt. I wrote down the name and snuck off to look it up on my phone.
BAM! Here’s my Instant Pot! THIS, my friends, is now MY new favorite kitchen toy. I still love my crock pot, although it doesn’t get as much love as it used to.
What is the Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker that combines several features in one great appliance. There are a few different models available, but I’ve been using and loving the 7-in-1 6-quart Duo.
You can do everything you’d do with a slow cooker / crock pot, pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté pan, and warming pot. That’s a lot of functionality for the price and it doesn’t take up nearly as much space! The best thing is that you just set it and forget it.
What I love about the Instant Pot:
- It bails me out of dinner time crises, no speed dial delivery required
- Easier yogurt-making and dry bean cooking
- I now have a rice cooker (hooray!)
- Stainless steel insert (no iffy coating)
- Nifty pre-set buttons and controls
- Safety features that eased my fear of pressure cooker
- Combines several appliances in one (space saver!)
- Speeds up cooking 2-6 times
- Preserves more vitamins and nutrients in pressure cooking
- Produces tender meats, well cooked beans and grains, and more
- Quiet, easy to clean, and compact, with a pleasant design
- It does my taxes and tells me I’m pretty (ok, not really)
Instant Pot Action at My House
So how does a domestically challenged mommy-brained busy homeschooler like yours truly make good use of the Instant Pot? If I forget to thaw meat, throw it in the pot! If I forgot to meal plan, make something in 25 minutes!
Let me show you a recent meal plan with some notes on extra things I used the Instant Pot for that week.
Monday – Pressure cook a whole chicken with root veggies (35-50 min depending on chicken size). Add a side salad for dinner. Use the chicken bones and make broth in 30 minutes, dividing finished broth into three portions. Then rinse and soak dry black beans overnight.
Tuesday – Pressure cook black bean soup with homemade broth (15 min – I’ll post the recipe next week!). Add a side of bread for dinner. Rinse out pot and make a batch of rice in broth for future meals.
Wednesday – Pressure cook chicken curry and serve over leftover rice (20 min) Rinse out and make a batch of yogurt.
Thursday – Pressure cook frozen chicken breasts with Italian dressing (15 min) Serve with bread and broccoli. Rinse out and soak pinto beans overnight.
Friday – Pressure cook soaked pinto beans in broth for burritos (25 minutes).
Saturday – Pressure cook hot chicken wings and serve the kids burritos again (10 minutes – muahaha gimme all the hot sauce)
Sunday – Enjoy glorious leftovers.
If the plan breaks down and I forget to soak beans or make rice… no problem! I just work a little more time in before dinner to do a 1-hour boiled water soak (more on that next week) or make rice before the main dish.
A Few Things to Note
Different Diets and Meal Types – My meal plan is a pretty standard family-friendly one, but many MANY folks do gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo, vegan, and other kinds of meal plans very successully with the Instant Pot. There are quite a few healthy-living books and sites that love the Instant Pot. I also didn’t venture much into the super-fun recipes like baby back ribs (my parents love that IP recipe), artichokes, etc. You can make breakfast, lunch, and dessert too!
Learning Curve – There is a bit of a learning curve with the Instant Pot, but you will find the instructions and little recipe booklet helpful. For example, the times above don’t include the time it takes to come to pressure, so you need to account for that in planning when to start. Before you know it you won’t need to refer to it much.
Recipes and Support – For recipes you can check out the Instant Pot site. I also highly recommend joining the Instant Pot community on facebook! The files alone are a wealth of information, with links to great sites and books for recipes and tips that will really help you make the most of your appliance. The group is just hopping with newbies and experienced users alike all swapping tips and recipes. I am an avid lurker.
Adjusting Recipes – If you’re used to a stove-top pressure cooker, you may have to adjust the time a bit with the electric, usually increasing it. No biggie. I do recommend trying the minimum time expected first, because it’s easier to cook it longer than needed than to fix an overcooked dish. If you’re a slow-cooker gal like me, it just takes a bit of experimenting, keeping in mind to use the lower cooking time first and adjusting from there.
Go Pro – If you really want to go pro, you can do what my mom did and buy a second stainless steel insert so you can make a main dish and a side without too much cleaning. Many people just go ahead and buy two Instant Pots!