I Cooked with an Instant Pot for a Week (and Actually Ate Healthier)

The hype is real, folks.

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December 03, 2018

For months my sister-in-law raved about her Instant Pot, urging me to invest in one, too. While I understood the appeal for her — a busy mom of two toddlers — I honestly couldn’t imagine adding yet another appliance to my apartment’s itty bitty kitchen. Plus, I absolutely adore my slow cooker and as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Flash forward to becoming a proud owner of a multi-cooker (I also love this version by Crock-Pot) and let me just say, I’m hooked! The multifaceted machine has revolutionized my meal prep; helping me save time, money and, believe it or not, counter space. (That’s right, I officially pawned my beloved slow cooker off on a friend because I no longer need it!) For one week, I recruited my pressure-cooking sous-chef to make everything from frozen meats to oatmeal. Here's how it went.

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Meal prep. Stack of home cooked roast chicken dinners in containers ready to be frozen for later use.

Photo by: Caymia

Caymia

I actually meal prepped. Confession: Unlike the typical fitness professional, I rarely meal prep. I have quick bites between clients down to a science and prioritize making my grub fresh, given my love for cooking. But with a pick-up in my schedule and the holidays in the midst, I’ll be honest, I haven’t had as much time to prepare my typical dishes. My multi-cooker has been an absolute game-changer for make-ahead meals to store in the fridge and freezer for those in-a-pinch situations! Oh, and given its ability to sauté, steam and more, clean-up is pretty effortless.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

It cooks beans in a flash. Being plant-based translates to always have a variety of beans on hand to top salads, toss into stir-fries and everything in-between. The only problem? I hate stocking up on canned varieties. They take up a ton of space, are pricier than buying their dried counterparts and are often loaded with sodium. The only problem is cooking dried beans has been a total time-suck — until now! Moving forward, cooked-to-perfection chickpeas, black beans and lentils will be a pre-made, additive-free staple in my refrigerator (stored in stackable glass containers) with less prep time and hassle versus soaking, boiling and simmering for hours. PSA for fellow legume lovers: This Instant Pot Black Bean Soup was beyond yummy!

Frozen meats are made in a snap. My carnivore of a hubby loves topping rice bowls, nachos — okay, anything — with shredded chicken. And don’t get him started on Ree Drummond’s Beef Tacos. (They’re a highly-coveted Tuesday night tradition!) Cooking for just one meat lover has been tedious and borderline wasteful in the past, but now it's a cinch. Pro tip: Load up on that buy one, get one sale and pop that extra chicken breast/ground beef in the freezer. Frozen meat in the multi-cooker can be ready in 20 minutes or less, no defrosting necessary. Bonus points: Add extra stock or sauce to the pot. No dry leftovers here!

Weeknight Cooking_ Instant Pot

Weeknight Cooking_ Instant Pot

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

Entertaining is easy, breezy and crazy-flavorful. Despite striving to be Giada’s mini-me, I have yet to truly nail serving sizes and meal timing when hosting. With my 6-quart cooker (there’s an 8-quart option, too!), I am able to keep things warm before serving a big group of friends … while still having enough for seconds! I found, as did my full-belly friends, that pressure cooking really locks in flavor. (Even on some of my go-to slow cooker recipes.) That’s why Instant Pot Salmon with Garlic Potatoes and Greens is next on my to do list. I mean, how good does that sound?!

Food Network Kitchen’s Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Hard-boiled eggs are fuss-free! Thanks to this fool-proof recipe, I’m able to prep a dozen hard-boiled eggs a week in four minutes. (Yes, you read that right!) The shells peel off with ease and the yolks come out creamy and perfectly set time and time again. I’m officially topping everything with an egg now. Bring on the egg salad!

Food Network Kitchen’s Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Grains are a go! Creamy oatmeal, sticky rice, fluffy quinoa — words I have never paired together while sporting my chef hat. Hence why I typically buy my grains frozen or microwavable, which is just spendy. With a pressure cooker, your grains are perfectly prepped and restaurant-quality with a hands-off approach (no more hovering over the stove!) Humble brag: I have never been able to successfully make amaranth until recently, thanks to my new cooker. This little nutty-tasting nutritional powerhouse is a great gluten-free grain option, packed with plant protein and tons of good-for-you minerals. I’m trying teff next!

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