instant pot cooking for healthier meal prep
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The Instant Pot is a game changer for healthy eating! Instant pot cooking can make certain whole foods so quick and hands-off to prepare–oftentimes more affordably and with less additives than store-bought alternatives.

instant pot cooking for healthier meal prep pin

I have to admit, I used to think I didn’t want an Instant Pot® (pressure cooker).

I didn’t want to relearn cooking methods for foods I commonly prepare. I also wasn’t looking for any more small appliances to store.

But after I purchased my Mockmill to mill my own flour at home, I realized I wanted to include more whole grains in our diet in other ways too.

We try our best to avoid processed foods in favor of more nutritious whole-food options. This is one reason I go to lengths to make food from scratch including naturally leavened bread and other fermented foods.

The problem was, it takes a long time at the stove to cook whole grains like brown rice, steel cut oats and other cereal grains–especially where we live at almost 9,000 feet elevation!

Even in the oven, brown rice used to take me over an hour to cook. We didn’t eat these foods often just for the hassle and lack of planning ahead.

So, long story short, I decided that I did want a pressure cooker. This past Christmas my parents gifted me an 8-quart Instant Pot.

There was a small learning curve to know how to operate the pressure cooker and use it safely. Even so, I became comfortable cooking in my instant pot much quicker than I thought I would.

I’m excited to share, it has made certain whole foods extremely easy to cook, in a very hands-off way.

Some foods I can make so effortlessly now, that I have quit buying a commercially-prepared version at the store!

Best Foods for Instant Pot Cooking

1. Oatmeal, Rice & Cereal Grains

These were the foods that first made me excited for instant pot cooking as I mentioned above.

I love how I can set the instant pot on high pressure and walk away to get other tasks done while these foods are cooking.

I often make oatmeal with either rolled oats or steel cut oats, or cook other cereal grains like rolled barley.

These hot cereals keep us full and satisfied much longer than cooking packets of quick oats that are loaded with sugar. I’ll even freeze portions of oatmeal for quick reheating over the next couple of weeks.

Jasmine rice and brown rice both come out of the instant pot with the perfect chewy texture every time. I’ve heard quinoa and millet cook easily in the instant pot as well.

2. Eggs

Another one of the first foods I cooked in my instant pot were hard boiled eggs.

Our fresh eggs from our hens can be next to impossible to peel when boiled.

With this instant pot cooking method, however, the eggs are actually steamed as they rest on a rack inside the pressure cooker.

After a short cooking and natural release time, I dunk them in an ice water bath.

Then they peel so easily!

I’ll cook extra eggs to keep in the fridge for breakfasts and snacks later in the week. Soft-boiled eggs can be made in the instant pot too.

But you know what will really blow your mind?

My aunt first told me about the instant pot egg loaf. It’s a method to cook up a whole batch of “hard boiled” eggs together with no peels (aka a loaf).

The egg loaf can then be chopped up for recipes like egg salad or potato salad directly after cooking.

I was so astonished how quickly I made egg salad sandwiches that I texted some of my friends and family members to tell them all about it!

3. Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

Making instant pot mashed potatoes is a very quick and hands-off process compared to tending to boiling potatoes on the stovetop.

After draining off the water, the potatoes can be mashed right in the same pot with whatever additions you like.

The instant pot makes quick work of cooking whole potatoes or sweet potatoes for meal prep as well.

4. Beans and Lentils

Dried beans take about 5 minutes of prep and no soaking when cooking in the instant pot! They can then be used in a variety of recipes.

I’ve read that cooking lentils for meal prep is great in the instant pot too.

5. Chicken

Instant pot cooking chicken breasts or chicken thighs… another one of those “life changing’ discoveries for me since I use cooked chicken in recipes quite often.

Simply place raw chicken in the instant pot with seasonings and the correct amount of liquid, then let the instant pot cook the meat perfectly in a short amount of time.

(Frozen meats can be cooked as well!)

After the chicken is cooked through, I either cut it in chunks or transfer it to a bowl and shred it with my hand mixer. Amazingly fast.

And yes, you can also cook a whole chicken at once for tender meat to eat or pull apart for recipes!

A chicken cooked this way would be a great alternative to rotisserie chicken which often contains a lot of additives.

6. Roasts

I use my instant pot to make a perfectly tender roast that tastes like it’s been cooking all day–but it only takes about an hour from start to finish!

We often cook beef chuck roasts with just seasoning and beef broth. A roast can even be seared first using the sauté function.

Sometimes I’ll cut a raw roast into chunks and freeze it together with onions, celery, carrots, tomato paste, and salt and pepper (my version of this recipe).

We’ll cook that mix in the instant pot later for a quick and satisfying meal.

I also make delicious pulled pork with a pork shoulder roast. It’s so quick in the instant pot, and we freeze the extra meat for later.

The pulled pork can be really affordable if I find the meat on sale.

As a bonus, homemade pulled pork doesn’t contain the additives that pre-packaged pulled pork often does. It’s a great replacement for deli meat too.

7. Yogurt

I love making cultured foods like milk kefir, buttermilk, and yogurt at home for a fraction of the cost of buying them at the supermarket.

But out of the three, yogurt can be a bit more labor intensive because the milk has to be kept warm for 8-12 hours while culturing.

Here’s where the yogurt function on the instant pot comes in so handy!

8. Bone Broth

If you like to make homemade bone broth, the instant pot cuts down the cooking time dramatically compared to simmering it on the stove!

You can freeze extra bone broth in portions to use later if you can’t consume it all at once.