It has been many years since the Instant Pot, a Canadian invention, was first introduced. And it remains as popular as ever. I can’t believe I bought mine almost five years ago, but I can confidently say that I still use it almost daily. Whether it’s for making my son’s school lunches in the morning, cooking dinner, reheating lunch using the air fryer lid, or prepping a big side dish for a gathering, it is one of the best small appliance investments I ever made. The Instant Pot has truly changed my daily cooking routines in so many ways.
Thinking of grabbing one of your own? We cover some great Instant Pot tips and tricks in this article, but here are some of the ways I have personally found the Instant Pot has helped change my cooking routines.
Get meals on the table quickly
Whether it’s a rapid lunch for me while I’m working from home, a quick packed lunch in the morning for my son to take to school, or a fast dinner on nights when we’re pressed for time, the Instant Pot makes it possible for me to make quick meals that are actually healthy and nutritious versus frozen packaged goods. Using an Instant Pot, and particularly using one with the Air Fryer Lid, I can get food on the table faster. It might be a pasta dish that is done in less time since there’s no wait time for water to boil, chicken breasts to shred for fajitas, or delicious smoked meat for sandwiches. There’s no preheat time like with an oven (though you have to factor in time to come to pressure) so I can often get a full dinner done in half an hour. From the perspective of being a parent, the Instant Pot and Air Fryer Lid has changed my son’s school lunches dramatically, since I’m more inclined to send him to school with hot lunches. From frozen chicken nuggets to mini pizzas, quesadillas, or even steamed perogies, he appreciates the break from the usual cold soy butter and jam or ham and cheese sandwiches.
Multi-tasking is possible
Typically, cooking requires your full attention, whether it’s tending to an item on the stovetop, like boiling water or searing pork chops, or keeping an eye on the time so the food in the oven doesn’t burn. With the Instant Pot, I can truly set and forget. The Pot turns off once the food is finished and with the Keep Warm function, food will keep warm inside for hours. There are times when I have left food slow cooking all day, like flank steak for taco night. If we’re running late to get back home, there’s no worry since I know the food will stay warm and there’s no large appliance running without being monitored. Overall, using the Instant Pot has allowed me to be more productive because I can “cook” dinner while still working away on my computer, folding laundry, running errands, or spending quality time with my son.
Make big batches of food in the Instant Pot
It’s easy to not only cook but also make big batches of food in the Instant Pot. Sometimes, I pack meals in individual foil containers for freezing to take over to my elderly parents so they have reheat and serve healthy home cooked meals. From sauces to chili, beef stroganoff to tuna casseroles, I have made plenty in the Instant Pot in large batches for gatherings or freezing for quick reheat lunches at home, too. You can use every inch of the 6 or 8-quart pot to make multiple servings, thus providing a week’s worth of meals in one cook. With enough freezer space, this ends up being both cheaper and healthier than store-bought boxed microwave dinners. And it means I not only spend less time cooking, but can cook less often as well while still enjoying home-cooked meals.
Use less electricity and air conditioning
It sounds strange, but yes, using the Instant Pot can reduce your electricity and air conditioning usage and bills. By cooking in the small pot more often, you’ll end up using the stove and oven less. There’s no preheating time with the Instant Pot like there is with a stove. And it uses less electricity overall.
When cooking in the summer months, opening and closing the oven door adds heat to the house, which might cause you to crank up the air conditioning higher than needed in order to regulate the temperature. With an Instant Pot, while it releases steam for certain dishes when you manually do so, you won’t get the same level of heat generation you would with an oven. So, the temperature always remains in the same in the kitchen. Thus, my cooking routine no longer includes cranking the AC in the summer when I have four burners and the oven going to ensure I’m not sweating up a storm.
Cook right from frozen in the Instant Pot
There are many times when the dreaded “what should we have for dinner” conversation happens only to find that there’s nothing in the fridge. There might, however, be tons of meat and poultry in the freezer. But there’s no time to thaw overnight in the fridge, and even using a sink full of cold water to defrost takes upwards of an hour. There’s always a microwave, but that can impact the flavour and texture of the food. With the Instant Pot, you can grab a few chicken breasts or sausages and pop them in with all of your added liquids and spices. Cooking from frozen requires the same cook time as fresh, but the Pot takes a bit longer to come to pressure. This has helped me use up frozen foods more often, since I tend to be forgetful and don’t take the meat or poultry out of the freezer the night before. It also ensures frozen meat and poultry doesn’t accumulate and overload the freezer, and I save money by buying them in bulk.
Experiment with creative dishes
Many of the Instant Pot models have a feature for making yogurt, and while it requires a ton of time and a number of steps (I’d recommend trying this on a weekend when you have a full day), once you make your first batch, it will become like second nature. Grab mason jars or re-use old glass containers and make your own yogurt with various toppings and flavours. All you need is a starter, a spoonful of yogurt (use your homemade yogurt for the starter going forward once you make the first batch) and a litre of whole milk. You can make it as creamy or solid as you like and it’s an affordable and delicious snack or quick breakfast that will save you money.
There are many other ways you can experiment with the Instant Pot, whether it’s making cheesecake (really!), boxed cakes, hard-boiled eggs for the week, and more. My cooking routine has become far more creative since using this wondrous Pot.
Change your cooking routines with the Instant Pot
Overall, I have found that the Instant Pot helps me adjust my cooking routines so we’re ordering in less and eating healthier meals when there would otherwise not be enough time to get them prepped and on the table. Making big batches means I can grab something from the freezer and reheat it for lunch or make my son something quickly for dinner when we need to rush out the door. When entertaining, I don’t have to worry about pre-cooking or finding a way to keep cooked dishes warm since the Instant Pot provides another appliance I can use to cook along with the oven, stovetop burners, and even the barbecue. If we forget a side dish, I can have something done in 10 minutes or less in the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot really has changed my cooking routines, and it can change yours, too. I have the older model Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 which I love, but there are plenty of newer Instant Pot models from which to choose, many of which you can find at Best Buy Online.