Health · Nutrition · Recipes

Rana’s Guide to Meal Prep With the Magical Instant Pot

By Rana Wright

Is your schedule busy?

Do you feel like cooking healthy meals takes FOREVER?

Do you dread having to cook for an hour after you get home from work?

Would you LOVE it if dinner time was easier?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then I have THE BEST kitchen tool for you!

 

InstantPot
Let me introduce you to the magical unicorn of appliances: THE INSTANT POT!

Maybe you were one of the people who joined the Instant Pot craze on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and now have NO IDEA how to use it? Or maybe you are thinking you would like to invest in one but aren’t sure if you will enjoy it!

Have no fear!  Not not only will you enjoy it, you will LOVE IT!!  I am here to share with you some of my favourite ways to use this addition to your family of kitchen tools.

What Is an Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is a programmable Pressure Cooker. Unlike the pressure cookers of olden days 😉 (the ones you put on your stove top and they bubbled and boiled and the potential for an explosion was for real) this version of the pressure cooker is electric.  You plug it in and it works its magic!

What Can the Instant Pot Do?  

(The better question might be, what can’t it do?)

It can:

  • saute
  • sear
  • steam
  • slow-cook (Yes!! It’s also a slow cooker!!)

You can use it to cook:

  • soups/broths
  • meat
  • stews
  • beans/chili
  • poultry
  • rice
  • porridge
  • yogurt

Convinced you want one? Here’s…

How to Select Your Instant Pot

There are various models to choose from. So, take the time to do some research on the Instant Pot website to select the right pot for your needs.

I have the Duo 7-In-1, 8-quart pot.  I went with an 8 quart because it allows me to fit a whole chicken inside.  (Yep, you can cook a whole chicken in the instant pot.  In about 30 minutes!! But more on that later!)

Say good-bye to your rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt-maker, etc. and say HELLO to easy-peasy, stress-free meal prep and dinner time!

I got my pot in March, so I have used it to make Sunday meal prep 100 times easier.  Now that we’re into the winter months, I’m using it at lunch and dinner time to prepare hot, wholesome meals for my family.

Here are…

My 5 Favourite Meal Prep and Meal Ideas

  1. Hardboiled Eggs

Since we started cooking eggs in our instant pot, peeling a boiled egg is a breeze. Like seriously, gone are the days of frustration and tears of not being able to get the shell off OR having half the egg come off with the shell while trying to peel it.

The shell peels off so easily and the entire egg is intact.

Don’t believe me? Think I am a liar? Think again!!

RanaBoiledEgg
Behold!!! The Perfect Hardboiled Egg

Instructions:

  1. 1 cup of water in bottom of pot
  2. Put steam rack with handles in to pot (this is to keep the eggs from being right in the water)
  3. Put in eggs (we do 10 eggs at time)
  4. Put on lid and close up – make sure the lid is properly in place
  5. Make sure the vent handle on the top of the lid is in the sealing position (this allows the pressure to build up)
  6. Select the manual function and high pressure
  7. Adjust cooking time to 10 minutes
  8. Stand back and wait for the pressure to build up and the timer to go (takes about 5-7 min roughly)
  9. When the timer goes to indicate eggs are done, turn the vent handle to the venting position (steam will be hot coming out so stand back)
  10. When the pressure is released, you can open your pot up and gaze upon perfection

Store the cooked eggs in the fridge and use them for breakfast, lunches, snacks, or just to show off your mad peeling skills to friends and family when they come over.

  1. Spaghetti Squash

If you have ever cooked spaghetti squash, you know it can take a long time.  Usually about a 45 mins to 1 hour in the oven.  The Instant Pot takes 7 minutes! 7 MINUTES!

Instructions:

  1. Wash spaghetti squash
  2. Cut in half width wise and scoop out the seeds (as shown in photo)
  3. Put 1 cup water in bottom of pot
  4. Insert steam rack with handles
  5. Set squash in pot cut side up
  6. Put lid on pot
  7. Put Vent handle in the sealing position
  8. Select the manual function and high pressure
  9. Adjust cooking time to 7 minutes (if it is a smaller squash, you could set time for 5-6 minutes)
  10. When timer goes, release pressure by putting the vent handle venting position
  11. Open and take out immediately (use tongs it will be hot)
  12. Let cool and then scrape out the fleshy part

Serving ideas include – as is with a little butter and salt, turkey meat balls and sauce, chicken chili, etc. Let your imagination run wild.

  1. Potatoes (Regular and Sweet Potatoes)

I always have potatoes (regular or sweet potatoes) prepped and in the fridge.  We like to cut the cooked potatoes up into chunks and cook them to use as breakfast potatoes. They are also there ready to re-heat as a starchy carb for lunch or dinner. I like to use them for post work-out snacks sometimes too.

Instructions:

  1. Wash potatoes and cut off any brown spots (don’t peel completely, the skin has yummy nutrients)
  2. Put 1 cup water in bottom of pot
  3. Insert steam rack with handles
  4. Set potatoes on to the rack ( I usually cook 8-10 potatoes depending on the size)
  5. Put lid on pot
  6. Put Vent handle in the sealing position
  7. Select the manual function and high pressure
  8. Adjust cooking time to 7 minutes using high pressure (if it is smaller squash you could go 5-6 minutes)
  9. When timer goes, release pressure by putting the vent handle venting position
  10. Open and take out immediately (use tongs it will be hot)
  11. Let cool and store in fridge
  1. Shredded Salsa Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of a friend. I wish I could take the credit for it. It is so simple and delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Salsa of your choice (I use Sobey’s Compliments Medium Salsa because it doesn’t have sugar added to it and the taste is great)
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom)
  2. Place chicken breasts in the pot
  3. Put as much salsa as you like over the chicken breasts
  4. Put lid on pot
  5. Put Vent handle in the sealing position
  6. Select the manual function and high pressure
  7. Adjust cooking time to 10 minutes
  8. Naturally release the pressure for about 10-13 minutes by leaving the handle in the sealed position to keep the chicken from drying out and keeping the moistness in (the pot will go in to the warming mode)
  9. Open lid and shred chicken with a fork.

Serve hot over spaghetti squash, in a wrap, over rice or even over a potato. Add some low fat sour cream or low-fat greek yogurt (my choice) and a little bit of cheddar cheese or guacamole.   Add a salad on the side and VOILA! Dinner is served!

salsachicken1salsachicken2

  1. Whole Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 -5 lb Whole chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Onion cut up into chunks (garlic and lemon wedges would be great too)
  • Spices – I like poultry seasoning but you can use whatever you like

Instructions

  1. Rub chicken with olive oil and preferred spices
  2. Turn on instant pot and select Sautee function
  3. Place chicken in pot breast side down
  4. Brown the breast side for about 2 minutes until golden brown
  5. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate
  6. Deglaze pot with bone broth
  7. Insert steam rack with handles to make removing the chicken easier when it is cooked
  8. Stuff chicken cavity with onions (or lemons or garlic or all three)
  9. Place chicken, breast side down, in pot
  10. Select the Manual setting using high pressure
  11. Adjust cooking time to 25 minutes.
  12. When time is up, allow pressure to naturally release and test the chicken for doneness. A thermometer inserted into the thigh should register at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit
  13. If necessary, bring the pot back to high pressure and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Quick release and recheck the temperature.
  14. Remove from pot and place a plate, cover with tin foil and let rest
  15. Pour some of the broth over the chicken and the rest on the side to use for dipping
  16. Carve chicken and serve or store in fridge for later

These are only 5 ideas to help you get started using your Instant Pot.  The possibilities are endless.  There are blogs dedicated to using the Instant Pot. Pinterest has some great recipe ideas as well.  The Instant Pot website has amazing recipes and there are Facebook groups devoted to the Instant Pot where you can find tips, resources, ask questions and even more recipes.

Whatever you decide to do with your Instant Pot, I hope this guide helped open you up to all of its magical unicorn abilities!


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