Need Instant Meals? Call the Instant Pot

We all live on go. Rushing to work, taking the kids to activities, picking them up, taking the dog to the groomer. You get the point. So why not have a multitasker tool that helps you save time and money. The instant pot is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and even steamer. You can cook stews and tough (and cheap) cuts safely all day long or make what usually takes hours in mere minutes.

Cooking Fast and Slow
One of the wonders of an instant pot is that it is a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. The pressure cooker allows you to take lengthy meals and reduce them to a quick weeknight treat. Homemade chicken soup in the winter? What once was three hours on the stovetop is now one hour in the instant pot. Same goes for beef stew or chili. Don’t have two hours for a pot roast in the oven? Try the instant pot.

At the same time, the instant pot can also work like your good old slow cooker. Everything that can be sped up can be slowed down. Start your chili in the morning, and by evening, you have the perfect slow cooked meal. And most are safe to leave on slow cook while you’re out of the house.

And just like your good old slow cooker, most instant pots have a warming setting for parties and special occasions. In fact, some will even switch to warming as soon as the timer ends on the slow cooker or pressure cooker. That way, if you are running a little late or not quite ready to serve dinner, your food will not go cold.

Next time you try our Roasted Vegetable Soup, take it nice and slow or speed it up in your instant pot.

Other Settings
In my kitchen, we love a multitasker. Most instant pots do much more than slow and fast cooking. These often include a rice cooker setting and steaming options. There are even some that allow you to sauté as if it were a pan. When you want to serve with our Thai Seafood Curry or are ready to steam artichokes, reach for the instant pot.

Whenever pressure cookers are mentioned in conversation, what often follows is talk of exposition. While most stove top pressure cookers are safe, they still require constant monitoring and heat changes. The nice thing about your instant pot is that it will regulate itself. That means releasing steam as it needs to and preventing you from opening it until it enough pressure has been removed. Just be sure that all parts are installed correctly, the lid is placed on securely, and manufacturing instructions are followed. Most instant pots have a steam release at the top so make sure it is switched to the proper setting before cooking and switched back so that steam is released after cooking.

How to Choose
There are many options out there from several manufacturers, and at various price points. This can make it difficult to choose. However, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself.

How big do I need it to be?
Instant pots come in all different sizes, usually measured by quart. Know your kitchen and what you are planning on cooking and choose from there.

How many features do I need?
What are your plans for the instant pot? If you just want the slow and pressure settings, you can reach for a less versatile model. If you plan on cooking everything in the instant pot, look for one with many options. That being said, when you try to please everyone, you often please no one. Often, we sacrifice the quality of each feature for more features overall. Therefore, you should always read reviews to ensure that all those settings work well and as intended.

What else should I look for?
With so many models on the market, it is never a bad idea to read reviews from customers and from professional publications to help you narrow down what is best for you and your wallet. And don’t cheap out on safety features. When pressure is involved, safety