Guest blogger Liz is sharing how she uses the Instant Pot to simplify dinnertime – be sure to check out her favorite recipes at the bottom of the post!
The Daily 5pm Scramble – What’s for Dinner?
I started my blog, FI with Kids, to record our journey to financial independence, which for our family, will give us more options to spend time together. Our family of five saves money towards this goal by cooking and eating almost all of our meals at home. With two working parents though, getting dinner on the table every night can be stressful.
For years, I’ve attempted to use a slow cooker to help with dinner. We have a couple of tried and true recipes that work well, but for us, we find most of the food doesn’t do well with all day cooking. Or spending 10-15 minutes in the morning to set up the ingredients in the crock pot was more time than I had to spare.
We commonly fell back on to go meals from Panera, Chipotle or Chick fil a to feed hungry kids quickly. Fortunately, we rarely eat dinner out at a restaurant, since with three small kids it’s not the most relaxing and fun way to have dinner. Enter the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot is the latest cooking device trend. It’s an electric pressure cooker that can be easily programmed through its 12 pre-set functions and manual settings. Since food is cooked under high pressure, it significantly reduces the cooking time. After a month of cooking with it, I have discovered you can have a tasty, hot meal in less time than it would take to order and pick up takeout food. It saves money and helps you eat healthier.
What I Love about the Instant Pot
- One pot cooking – only the insert bowl and lid to clean afterwards
- Fast – risotto, one of our favorite meals, but famously finicky, preps and cooks in 10 minutes
- Flexible – braise meats, steam veggies, cook rice or even make yogurt
- Money-saving – allows you to make basics like dried beans and stock quickly and easily
Is the Instant Pot Better Than a Slow Cooker?
As one of its gajillion functions, the Instant Pot also has a slow cooker setting. Even better, it solves the common slow cooker problem of having to brown meat or saute vegetables before placing them in the crock pot. With the Instant Pot, it truly makes for one pot meals. Just select the “saute” mode for whatever pre-cooking is needed and then switch to “slow cook” mode when you are ready.
One thing I will still use my crock pot for is baking potatoes. I wrap sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in foil with a little bit of olive oil and salt and cook on low for 8 hours in my slow cooker. The potatoes turn out perfect every time.
Our Favorite Instant Pot Recipes
Now that we have our Instant Pot, I can come home, do five minutes of prep, dump everything in the pot, and 10-20 minutes later have a homemade dinner ready for everyone to eat. Below are some of our favorite recipes. Many of these also produce leftovers for the next day or to freeze.
- Easy Mushroom Risotto
- No-fry “Refried” Beans
- Honey Bourbon Chicken
- Homemade Applesauce
- Beans, Greens and Bacon
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