One of the most crucial parts of my weekly meal plan is my meal prep routine every Sunday. Spending a few hours in the kitchen is the assurance that I've got hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, grains for salad, and, best of all, that getting dinner on the table will be a lot easier in the week ahead. I shared my love for the Instant Pot a couple years ago, and now it's time to do it again — because it has single-handedly improved the way I meal prep.
It's About More than Time
First, I think it's important we clear up one thing: The Instant Pot doesn't necessarily make my Sunday meal prep any faster. It can, but certainly not always.
For certain long-cooking items, like chicken stock, bone broth, and big, tough cuts of meat, sure, it is by far faster than the stovetop or slow cooker alternative. But for everything else, not so much. By the time the Instant Pot comes to pressure, then cooks, and releases pressure, it often takes the same time as other methods. With a couple exceptions (more on them below), I'm not pulling out my Instant Pot to cut down on the time I spend doing meal prep.
Here's How the Instant Pot Helps Me Meal Prep
Here are five ways the Instant Pot helps me meal prep on a regular basis. For me, it's about convenience, multitasking, and the totally delicious results it can deliver.
1. It allows me to multitask without watching the stove.
In my life pre-Instant Pot, part of my meal prep routine involved firing up all four burners on my stovetop at once to make hard-boiled eggs, grains for lunches and dinners, steel-cut oats, and lentils. Meanwhile, I chopped veggies for snacks and salad, whisked together vinaigrette, and prepped meat. It was a well-timed dance — well, except for those times I forgot about the grains on the stovetop until I could smell them burning into the bottom of the saucepan.
Yes, I could have multitasked a bit less, but I'm stubborn, so that didn't happen. Instead I turned to the Instant Pot. It takes longer to rotate in my lineup of grains, lentils, and eggs, but it also means I'm not keeping constant watch over the stove. I'm happy to take the trade-off.
2. It gives me ultra-creamy hard-boiled eggs every week.
Hard-cooked eggs from the Instant Pot aren't much quicker than using the stovetop method, but the result is enough to make it a win for me. It yields reliably delicious, easy-to-peel, ridiculously creamy eggs every single time. It's breakfast made easier.
3. It means one less dirty pan to wash.
Praise the sauté function of the Instant Pot! To think I initially scrunched my nose and rolled my eyes at this feature, thinking I would never use it. Well, I use it almost all the time.
You know those slow cooker recipes that ask you to brown meat or sauté veggies on the stovetop first? This happens all inside the Instant Pot. No extra skillet required, which means one less dirty pan to contend with. I also recommend this feature for giving rice and oats a quick toast before cooking.
Learn more: How To Clean an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
4. It allows me to make homemade stock more often.
Using the pressure cooker function, making a quick stock or bone broth is where the Instant Pot excels. Neither are particularly tricky to make on the stovetop, but they require hours and hours of simmering that I can't always commit to.
This appliance gets the job done in a fraction of the time, and as a result I make chicken stock and bone broth more regularly.
5. It gives me meat for the week.
When I did Whole30 back in January, I was introduced to cooking hefty cuts of pork shoulder in my Instant Pot. It was a total game-changer. Instead of cooking these big, tough cuts of meat a few times a year, I now cook them a couple times a month. In under two hours, I know I will find myself staring down a pile of shredded meat to be used for everything from salads and grain bowls for lunch to tacos and hearty sauces for a week's worth of meals.
Get a recipe: Pressure Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pig
More About the Instant Pot
Has the Instant Pot helped you become a better meal prepper? Let us know in the comments.