Why I Love My Instant Pot


instant pot, pressure cookerKail bought me an Instant Pot — a “multicooker” that is a combination pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker, and electric steamer, among other functions — for  my birthday last year. I dabbled in pressure cooking a few times — experimenting with turning some of my favorite slow cooker recipes, like butter chicken, into pressure cooker recipes — for the few weeks I was in Jordan before leaving on Medevac to have Piopio. But I didn’t really get into my Instant Pot until we got back, Piopio in tow.Parenting an infant has changed the way I cook (and do everything else in my life for that matter). I’m not exaggerating when I say that I make three-quarters of our meals in my Instant Pot. (The rest of the time we’ll have salad or something easy like tacos or a meal we made and froze in advance. And usually one night we’ll order takeout as a treat.) On the weekends, I’ll usually make one non-Instant Pot meal since Kail is home and can watch Piopio. But weekdays? Instant Pot all the way.instant pot, instant pot recipes, black dal, black lentilsI’ve made a lot of soups, stews, and former slow cooker recipes: butter chicken, Cincinnati chili, Thai green curry, and others. Smitten Kitchen’s black dal recipe is among our regular rotation. I pressure cook, shred, and freeze shredded chicken breast to use in chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, and other pulled chicken recipes.instant pot, instant pot recipes, black dal, black lentilsI’ve used the slow cooker function on the Instant Pot a handful of times, but most of the time I pressure cook because it’s faster. After using my Instant Pot for a couple weeks, I finally got rid of my old Crock Pot.instant pot, instant pot recipes, mushroom risotto, instant pot risottoOne revolutionary (and tasty) shortcut has been risotto. Risotto! No more standing at the stove, adding liquid in tiny increments and stirring for an hour. Even for our salads, we use the Instant Pot to make a bunch of hard-boiled (or I guess hard-cooked, since they’re technically pressure cooked, not boiled) eggs in advance so we have them for the week.instant pot, instant pot recipes, instant pot eggs, pressure-cooked eggsThe New York Times has some good ideas on last-minute weeknight meals: Toss some chicken, coconut milk, diced tomatoes and garam masala in for a few minutes for a pretty tasty curry. Or some honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic for an Asian flavor. It’s easy to prep some quinoa or brown rice on the stovetop and microwave steam a side vegetable while the Instant Pot does its thing.instant pot, instant pot recipes, black dal, black lentilsAs great as the Instant Pot is for the spontaneous chef, I am not one of those. I’m a planner, through and through. I’m getting better at being able to improvise and not follow recipes, but I cook best with some preparation.Bullet journal, dot journal, leuchtturm1917, journaling, planner, calendar, diary, tracker, meal plannerI use my dot journal meal planner spread to sketch out the week’s lunches and dinners based on Kail’s work schedule and any social activities we have planned (hint: not many in the evenings thanks to Piopio). It inevitably changes, but knowing I’m prepped for a handful of different, easy-to-make meals means it’s easy to be flexible.instant pot, instant pot recipes, mushroom risotto, instant pot risottoI usually prep everything (chop protein and vegetables, measure out spices, etc.) some time during the day while Piopio naps (or, as is more often the case lately, fusses and cries in his crib during what is supposed to be naptime). If I need to make rice or sides, I’ll usually do that too and just stick them in the fridge to be reheated later. Then, once Kail gets home I throw everything into the Instant Pot before we start Piopio’s bedtime routine. By the time he’s bathed, fed, and put to bed for the night, dinner’s ready.It’s nice to have a couple hours to ourselves to enjoy dinner and relax before we get too exhausted to be awake anymore. (For me, this is often embarrassingly early — like 9:00 p.m. OK, I sometimes start my bedtime routine at 8:30 so I can be getting into bed to read around 9:00. Babies are exhausting!)What are your favorite pressure cooker (or slow cooker) recipes?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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