As a registered dietitian, I have a deep love for any kitchen gadget that makes my life easier or helps me get healthy meals on the table faster.
Let me introduce you to my latest love: the Instant Pot -- a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/searing pan, steamer and warming pot all-in-one.
And if you don't already have one, you need one.
After experimenting with mine for just a few weeks, I ditched my crock pot, rice cooker, and traditional stove top pressure cooker after it became apparent that the Instant Pot could handle their tasks and then some.
I love this little machine for many reasons, but here are 11 of them:
To say this pot is fast is an understatement. Here's what I mean: A pot roast typically takes anywhere from 6 to 8 hours in a crock pot, right? Well, it takes about an hour in the Instant Pot. I mean, come on. Who doesn't want that? Crock pot meals require a lot of planning and you have to know way in advance that you want to eat a particular meal on a particular day. Not so with the little magic pot. Side note: the Instant Pot can also be used as a crock pot if you simply despise fast cooking times.
In the time it takes for dinner to cook itself in the Instant Pot, you'll have time to do other things, like asking your kids how their day went, folding a load of laundry, doing a quick meditation, or just taking a moment to relax. I often use that time to tidy up the kitchen, so I'm left with cleaning just a few plates, glasses, flatware, and the pot itself after dinner.
If you use a lot of stock or broth, you’ll be happy to know you can easily cook a whole chicken in your instant pot in under 30 minutes. A 4-pounder has a cook time of around 20 minutes (plus the time it takes to come up to pressure, which is about 15 minutes). This leaves you with a ton of broth that you can refrigerate or freeze for later use. I love to freeze it in ice cube trays so I can easily measure out just the right amount when I need it.
It’s so simple to use that many people refer to it as the “easy pot” or “magic pot.” You literally dump in a bunch of ingredients, put the lid on and press a button. It doesn't get much easier than that.
I’ve personally owned a 3-quart and two 6-quart Instant Pots, and they’ve all been lovely. While the 6-quart is slightly bigger, they are both small enough to store easily in a kitchen cabinet, and they're much lighter in weight than a crock pot. Side note: The 3-quart size is great for just one person, but if you want leftovers or are cooking for more than one person, the 6-quart size is better.
Meats prepared in the Instant Pot are by far the most tender of any other cooking method I've used. Meat falls right off the bone. And if anyone in your household has difficulty chewing or swallowing, this can eliminate the problem of tough or chewy meats.
Unlike the pressure cookers of earlier generations, you can rest easy that the lid isn't going to blow through your ceiling. Modern safety mechanisms have come a long way.
Prices have come down substantially since the pots first hit the market, and in many places you can find them for under $40. Amazon* and Walmart seem to have the best prices from what I've seen recently.
Unlike the oven, which can heat up a room in a jiffy, the Instant Pot doesn’t generate a lot of external heat. That can be a game-changer in the hot summer months.
Meals that used to require a lot of planning an preparation now require very little effort. Once you toss your ingredients into the pot and press a button, you're good to go. And no more thawing or soaking ahead of time, either. With the Instant Pot, you can use frozen meats and dry beans. Simply amazing.
Packaged convenience foods are rarely cheap or healthy, and in most cases they don't really save you as much time as marketing campaigns lead you to believe. For example, boxed foods are typically highly-processed and contain large quantities of sodium, fat, sugar, calories, colorings, preservatives, and other synthetic ingredients. With the Instant Pot, you can easily control the quality and quantity of ingredients, which helps you stay on track with your health goals. And let's not forget: when you're healthier, you spend less money on healthcare. If you don't already have an Instant Pot and you struggle with getting healthy meals on the table consistently, you might want to consider one of these little magic machines.
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