The Struggle Was Real
I have never liked spending time in the kitchen. With my school and work schedule over the last few months, my husband and I resorted to fast food or leftovers most nights per week. (My husband does not enjoy cooking either.) If you're busy and being in the kitchen is already not your favorite activity, it can be pretty hard to stay inspired as far as meals are concerned.
Every day, around the same time, my husband and I would have the same exchange:
"What do you want for dinner?"
"I don't know. You?"
"I don't know."
Depending on how hungry we were, we would either take the time to scrounge up something using whatever was in the pantry or go out for McDonald's. Healthy, I know. But we did what we had to do because planning out meals, shopping for ingredients, and then preparing them was just a huge mental block for me, with everything else I had going on.
Fast forward to Christmas 2021. My sisters got me an Instant Pot, and I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that we've eaten at home almost every night since we returned from Virginia. Today is January 15, and we got back on December 26. It may not seem like a very long time to some, but for us, it is a record. And we have no plans to go out for food any time soon.
It Really Is (Almost) Instant
The first reason I love the Instant Pot is that it lives up to its name. I made enchilada soup the other day, using thawed skinless, boneless chicken breasts. (I hear that you can cook from frozen too, but I have not tried this yet.) I put the chicken breasts in the pot as they were, right out of the package, along with all the other ingredients for the soup. After using the pressure cook feature for 20(!) minutes, the chicken was so tender, it practically shredded itself. The soup was delicious. It took longer to chop the veggies and clean up after the meal than it did to wait for it to cook. If you are interested in the recipe, I got it from this YouTube video.
Instant Pot has a handy cheat sheet that shows the cooking times for just about everything you can imagine putting in the pot. As you can see, just the chicken by itself, if I had not been making the soup, would have taken even less time. The days of being hungry and either waiting for the oven to preheat or frantically poking the meat with a meat thermometer every few minutes, while making a greasy mess on the stove, are over!
It would be interesting to see how cooking with an Instant Pot affects dopamine levels. Someone should really do a study on that. There is something so satisfying about throwing raw ingredients in the inner pot, putting the lid on, waiting a minimal amount of time, and then opening the lid to find a delicious and beautiful meal inside (after safely releasing the pressure, of course).
I can't really explain this part or why I get so much pleasure from it. Maybe it is the combination of sight and smell, of tangible results, or just the fact that I didn't have to work that hard for a wholesome meal that tastes great. I have also been able to find several recipes that call for ingredients we already have in our pantry, which is a big help.
Since returning from our Christmas vacation, I have used the Instant Pot almost every day, and I have not had a single bad experience with it. The closest I have come to that was when I made fudge in it (yes, fudge!), and the "Food Burn" message came on while I was heating the sugar water. That was easily fixed, though, just by adding another 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pot, and the fudge still turned out great.
As an aside, the "Food Burn" message does tend to come up whenever you're making something sugary, whether some kind of sauce or dessert, but that doesn't mean the food is ruined. Adding water was an easy fix.
My Verdict: It's Fantastic
Are you hungry yet? Needless to say, I give the Instant Pot 10 out of 10 stars. It might seem a little intimidating, but it is easy to get the hang of, and it has made my cooking life so much easier. I find most of my recipes online without having to pay for them. If you'd like any of the recipes for the photos featured here, just let me know. And feel free to comment and let me know about your own Instant Pot experiences!
© 2022 Heidi Hendricks