The Instant Pot Adventures of a Skeptic

I arrived late to Pot-land. I saw one-too-many pictures of exploded kitchens and determined that it was not the tool for me – because knowing my luck, I would cause my entire house to explode.

But when I discovered that I was pregnant with my son, and the pregnancy exhaustion took over my life and I started going to the drive-thru 3+ nights per week, I reached out to my momma-munity for ideas to make my life simpler.

Instant Pot was the only “original” answer I received. One of my momma friends described it as “hands-free.”

The term brought to mind an image of myself as a new mom, breastfeeding my month old daughter with one arm and cooking with the other – I was so proud of my multi-tasking abilities!

Then I imagined myself in my future new-mom state – breastfeeding my month old son with one arm, comforting my two-year-old toddler with the other because SHE’S hungry – and I’M crying because I’m hungry too but I don’t have the hands to make a PB&J, let alone something with all the food groups.

I could probably use some “hands-free” in my life.

It also helped that this same week, Amazon did their crazy deals thing and I managed to snag an Instant Pot for $53.

Recipe 1: Potato Soup

My BFF and I decided to break in my new Instant Pot while she visited. The soup turned out fine, but when the recipe said “10-minute potato soup” – I expected it to take 10-20 minutes. It took closer to 40, and by the time we got the potatoes peeled, our kids were starving rage monsters, so we fixed leftovers for them.

I called it a wash. It didn’t feel like it helped too much, but I know there is a learning curve AND with a bunch of crazy kids (and my extra-whiney toddler), I knew it wasn’t a fair test.

Recipe 2: Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes – Simultaneously!

As soon as I saw this recipe pop up in my Instant Pot Pinterest search, I was intrigued. I usually save meatloaf for Sunday dinners because it takes so long to bake – and I did make this on a Sunday night, just in case.

But as it turns out, I would feel comfortable throwing this together on a weeknight.

Also, I have been a huge investor in instant mashed potatoes since…. Forever. But the real potatoes turned out perfectly through this method.

I didn’t follow the meatloaf recipe exactly – I used bread crumbs and crackers instead of pork rinds etc. – but I’m sure this would work well with any meatloaf recipe.\

I also made my meatloaf pan out of foil myself, so my meatloaf crumbled a bit when I took it out. Not a huge deal, but I would definitely prefer to have a pan that fits inside for next time.

Otherwise, total success.

Recipe 3: Beef & Potatoes Au Gratin

Total. Fail.

I was hoping this would be super yummy, because it was so easy to throw together. But the recipe called for layering your ingredients, and I just mixed mine all together and added extra cheese – because I’m a rebel and I do what I want.

I also added extra liquid because all the warning articles say to not add less than 1 cup of liquid.

Turns out you’re supposed to LAYER the ingredients because if your Instant Pot senses the cheese becoming a burnt sticky mess in the bottom of the pan, it will stop cooking. Which is exactly what happened.

Oh and, of course, somehow ALL OF THE CHEESE MADE IT TO THE BOTTOM.

So I scooped out the beef, potatoes, and remaining cheese with a little bit of chicken broth and threw it in the oven. It took much, much longer to bake, so I ended up making chicken nuggets for dinner that night and having the potato cheese casserole the next night.

It tasted fine, but needed more cheese (since, you know, most of it was stuck to the pan). I won’t be making it (or anything else cheesy) in my Instant Pot for a while.

Conclusion

I do like the Instant Pot as a way to be pseudo hands-free in the evenings. Obviously there’s still a lot of prep that goes into these types of recipes, but once they start cooking – you’re pretty much done. It’s like the benefits of a slow cooker  – without having to remember to load that bad boy up in the morning – and an oven sheet pan meal – with more variety and less need to keep a watch on it.

I’ll definitely be using my Instant Pot regularly. What are some of your favorite recipes?

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