Within comic folklore exists Bizarro, the evil twin of Superman. Imagine every heroic trait of the Man of Steel twisted to a polar opposite-that’s Bizarro! (I learned of this from an episode of Seinfeld.)
I am the Bizarro of Betty Crocker.
My poor mother tried. She would call me into the kitchen in hopes of domesticating me.
“Heather, come see how to make a pie crust!”
“I’m studying now, Mom!” I received high marks in school, but never really learned how to cook (or sew for that matter). It is a miracle that Billy married me lol.
About 8 months ago, Billy had “the talk” with me.
“Heather, I think we need to look into companies that can deliver pre-made meals.” The truth hurt. I knew I had to do something to save my marriage. My family. (Please note the use of hyperbole.)
I remembered my friend Tonya had posted about her new-fangled kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot. She excitedly shared all the features of her model, and she proudly posted pictures of her easy, delicious Instant Pot mashed potatoes.
I was intrigued. I began reading online reviews and asking friends to see who knew about this Instant Pot. Then I joined the FB group the Instant Pot community. What an eye opener! This community boasts over 600,000 members, who share their Instant Potting adventures. After reading multiple posts about how this kitchen appliance was literally changing lives, in February, I opted to buy one myself and to put it to the test.
What I have learned about the Instant Pot:
1. You must get past your fear of using your new Instant Pot.
The box that it comes in is huge and somewhat intimidating. Even the manual is a bit thick. DON’T (and I repeat) DON’T let it sit on your counter. Procrastination is not your friend in this situation. I know people who have let their Instant Pot “marinate” in the box for a year or more.
*Realize, this isn’t your mother’s or grandmother’s pressure cooker. It will not blow up. There are safety features to avoid this.
*It is super-duper user friendly, thus all of the You Tube videos of pre-teens using it (supervised).
If you just can’t bring yourself to do the initial water test (the recommended test to ensure your IP is able to come to pressure), watch this Youtube video about how to do a Water Test Demo , ask a friend to “be there” while you conduct the test, or contact me for IP (Instant Pot) support! You are missing out on precious Instant Potting moments the longer you let it sit. Pull off the Band-Aid!
2. You must have realistic expectations. It’s not called the Miracle Pot.
The beauty of the Instant Pot is its convenience and multiple features. It can replace several other kitchen appliances: pressure cooker, rice cooker, and slow cooker. You can cook everything from healthy to comfort foods; meals, desserts, sides, dips, soups, eggs; meats, pastas; every type of ethnic food; yogurt; cheesecake; and more! You can cook multiple items at one time. You can prepare meals for that day or to freeze. YOU DON’T HAVE TO “BABYSIT” IT! Set it and forget it! It is also very easy to clean.
Now, the time factor. I’m going to be real. You see those insanely short cook times, and you wonder, “Does it really only take 5 minutes to make hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot?” Not exactly. The recipes can’t factor in the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure. Every Instant Pot varies a little. It is important to realize that even though it will save you time when cooking a lot of things, it won’t on some things. Sometimes it will take the same amount of time. Especially if your pot is very full. Also note that some recipes require the pressure to be released “naturally,” and this takes a little more time as well.
The Instant Pot is a little bit of an investment. The DUO 6 quart model runs about $99 on Amazon though it will probably go on sale more frequently as we draw near to the holidays. The new ULTRA 6 quart model runs about $149 on Amazon. (I actually have the DUO and the ULTRA.) The money I have spent has been totally worth it! My Instant Pot has a permanent location on my kitchen counter, and I use it 3- 4 times a week. Sometimes I forget to defrost meat or we’ll change our mind about what we want for dinner. In the past, we would have to run and get take out. We would do that a couple of times a week! Now, I cook frozen meats, like chicken breasts, within 15 minutes. That saves us money! I’m also cooking with less processed and prepared foods, which tend to be a bit more expensive. Lastly, I’m not heating my whole house up as much, so I’m sure we’re saving a bit on the air conditioning. (Pictured below: the ULTRA)
3. My go to items and Instant Pot recipe sites are…
Our main staple is chicken! I like to make a few (frozen) chicken breasts at a time, and the sky is the limit for how you can use them through the week! On a pretty regular basis, I make hard boiled eggs for low cal egg salad and green salads. I also make brown rice to use through the week in my Asian and Mexican inspired recipes. I have started steaming veggies-carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, and zucchini. You may have read online about pressure cooking “depleting nutrients,” however I found a pretty credible article stating the opposite: that pressure cooking actually preserves nutrients. (I tried to find article I read the other night, but can’t locate it. Here is another Is Pressure Cooking Healthy? )
I have two go to FB pages that I find Instant Pot recipes: Pressure Luck and Adventures of a Nurse. I have to admit that I have tried more Pressure Luck recipes than Adventures of a Nurse, but I have never been disappointed with any of their recipes. They are super straightforward, easy, and delicious! There are other Instant Pot recipe bloggers who I have tried one or two recipes, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending them without trying more of their recipes. I have quite a few recipe bloggers I am currently checking out.
If I can’t find a particular recipe on one of my go to sites, I will inquire on the Instant Pot Community FB page, but I always ask for “tried and true” recipes. Sometimes you will notice weird cooking times in some Instant Pot recipes that just don’t make sense. I have tried to cross-reference, but that can be time consuming. Also check out Pinterest for lots of Instant Pot recipes!
I am learning how to create my own recipes by converting regular recipes to Instant Pot recipes, or combining a couple of Instant Pot recipes to better align with our personal preferences.
(At the end of this blog post, I will include links to some of my favorite Instant Pot recipes!)
4. The Instant Pot can help you lose weight!
Billy and I have lost a combined weight of nearly 50 pounds! You can probably see the various ways the Instant Pot has helped us lose our weight. First, we are eating out A LOT LESS. In addition to this, we are eating more healthy, whole foods. More veggies, chicken, vegetarian meals, and subbing spaghetti squash “noodles” in place of pasta. I also feel that dinner time is over a little quicker, and we have more time for bike rides, swimming, walks, etc. Yay, for more physical activity and memory making!
5. Be aware of the learning curve!
The more you use your Instant Pot, the more comfortable you will feel about using it. If you read over the manual, choose simple “tried and true” recipes, and even watch a few demo videos, you will experience more success in your kitchen. Keep in mind some things are a bit trickier to cook, but you will get the hang of them with practice. For example, I’m still trying to figure out poached eggs. There are quite a few Instant Pot methods, and since egg size varies, it isn’t super straightforward. Even with frozen chicken breasts, you need to ensure that the center is cooked. You may need to increase cooking time a little if the chicken breasts are thicker. Don’t give up if you have a couple of failed outcomes! Never, ever, ever give up!
The Instant Pot has not only simplified meal making in our home, but it has truly made cooking a more enjoyable experience for me. I no longer dread making dinners, nor am I intimidated to try new recipes. (Well, except yogurt lol. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to make it. Also, cheesecake, but that’s because of the calories lol.) I have a personal goal to try at least one Instant Pot recipe per week. It makes me so happy to prepare healthy, home-made meals for Billy and our son Liam. I never realized how rewarding that would be. I HAVE become domestic lol.
If you are considering purchasing an Instant Pot, and found this helpful, please let me know. Or, maybe you have an Instant Pot already, and still found this to be somewhat informative, humorous, or relate-able, I want to know! Have a question for me? I would love the opportunity to answer it! Never hesitate to ask… or to comment! I love feedback! I’m considering writing a part two to this blog post to expand even further on the Instant Pot. This was really more of an introduction.
The Instant Pot is just one of many tools/changes that Billy and I have made in the last seven months since beginning our “renovation.” Next week’s blog post topic will be a surprise.
Here are some of my favorite recipes… (This is the tip of the iceburg.)
Here’s an added bonus: Jeffrey of Pressure Luck’s “I Just Got My Instant Pot Now What?” tutorial. This is a must see for every newbie!