It hasn’t been that long since I got my Instant Pot, but I kind of feel like I’ve had it forever. Honestly, I’m not sure how I survived without it. I use it every week to make hard-boiled eggs and steel cut oats for the week ahead.
I’ve found myself using it a ton for the kids, too. I can make a batch of spaghetti with meat sauce (all in one pot) that will last for a week. If you do a lot of meal prep or batch cooking, the ease of the Instant Pot really can’t be beat (if you’re in the market or looking to add a second one, take a look at this size comparison).
Today I want to share with you my favorite recipes (kid-friendly, y’all…and easy to tweak for picky eaters) and tools for lunch meal prep with the Instant Pot. You can spend a few hours prepping these foods on a weekend and have meals for weeks!
>>> A note about this post – I totally intended this to be a post about meal prepping for school lunches, and it is exactly that. BUT…I realized that I ended up using all 21 Day Fix-friendly foods, so this will ALSO work for you Fixers out there! If you want to learn more about the 21 Day Fix, start here.
Tools I Use for Lunch Meal Prep with the Instant Pot
- First off, my Instant Pot. I use a 6qt and it is fine for my needs. Read this if you’re trying to decide if this one will be big enough for you.
- I use this silicone tray for making egg bites – you can also use it for making things like muffins and for freezing portions (as I write this, it’s full of chicken stock freezing in my freezer).
- Egg steamer rack (this is a nice accessory to have, but not necessary – you can just stack your eggs in the pot on the trivet and they’ll be fine)
- Silicone muffin pans – this won’t fit in your Instant Pot, but is a great way to freeze lunch-sized portions of almost anything! I actually use these ones that I’ve had around since the time I made Pokemon cupcakes…they’re so handy.
- Food storage containers (we have this exact set, but we bought it at Costco on sale for $18!). If you already have food storage containers, don’t feel like you need these to be successful. These are freezer-friendly, which is super helpful because I use the larger ones to store things like individually sized portions of oatmeal and pasta. They’re also great to use as lunch containers.
Here’s How I Prep Lunches
I use this for both the kids’ lunches, and my own. Since I’m home during the day, it’s easy for me to make my own lunch. But I need to prep the kids’ lunches the night before, and that’s mostly what I’m referring to here. This would also apply to anyone who has to take their own lunch every day.
I make this super simple. I make a few recipes and leave a couple days’ worth in the fridge and freeze the rest in portion sizes. I use the stuff in the fridge first, then get into the to frozen food once the fresh stuff is gone. I pack lunches the night before school, and I will usually pick one of the pre-prepped meals to send and then add in some fruit, deli meat, cheese/yogurt, etc.
And let me be very clear, lest you think I just have it all together all the time. Once a week, I send the kids to school with a Lunchable or have them buy lunch (Costco has an all-natural Lunchable, if you’ve got access to Costco!). Sometimes I send them to school with a lunch box full of crackers and applesauce pouches because that’s how life is.
BUT. Prepping a few meals, like I’m sharing with you here, means this happens less often than it used to. So, YAY!
I freeze everything in individual-sized servings (this is when those silicone muffin pans come in handy!). This goes for oatmeal, pasta, whatever! I freeze almost everything in the silicone molds. I stuff the mold full of whatever I’m freezing (pasta, oatmeal, soup), cover with foil, and freeze. Once frozen, I pop them out of the molds and transfer to a container. I will take the servings out of the container as the week goes one.
I try to prep fruits and veggies at the same time (washing and cutting, and sticking in a container in the fridge).
I make lunches the night before. I simply pull out the frozen food and stick in their lunch containers, and put everything in the fridge. It thaws by lunchtime!
Lunch Meal Prep Instant Pot Recipes (all 21 Day Fix-friendly, too!)
Here are some Instant Pot recipes that I make for myself and my kids:
- Hard-boiled eggs (I make a dozen almost every week – you can also turn this into Easy Egg Salad!)
- Peanut Butter Steel Cut Oats (the consistency can be pretty thick when it’s cold…if you don’t like the texture, you can use regular oats instead, but you’ll need to reduce the cook time)
- Spaghetti (this recipe calls for ground turkey, but I have substituted for ground beef – it’s great either way)
- Oatmeal jars (great for breakfast-on-the-go)
- Turkey meatballs (ok – this is the only one on here that’s not an Instant Pot recipe, but they’re so good! They freeze well, and everyone likes them)
- Egg bites (you can leave out the tomatoes if your kids are weird about them!)
- Buffalo chicken bites
- Sweet potatoes (send toppings on the side)
- Shredded Mexican chicken
- Mac & Cheese (this recipe is gluten-free!)
- Another Mac & Cheese recipe (not gluten-free)
- BBQ Turkey Sloppy Joes
- Beef Stew
- Apple crisp (for dessert, but…it’s healthy!)