Instant pot – This Magical Kitchen gadget that has revolutionized cooking and got the family back to the dinner table.
It was late 2016. Friends around me were getting the newest kitchen gadget, Instant Pot . I was hesitant with the large number of things in my kitchen already. I thought I have the slow cooker, the stove-top pressure cooker and I don’t have much counter space…do I want to add another appliance to the counter? Then came Thanksgiving and it’s luring discounts. I gave in!
But guess what? I love it. You can safely call it the one appliance “I cannot live without anymore!”. After interacting with many parents, I feel that the instant pot has got people back in the kitchen with its convenience, which means more home cooked meals for the family and especially for kids in their growing phase when they need nutritious food.
So what is Instant Pot? It is a device that combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute and yogurt maker in one handy unit. It can speed up cooking time, especially for meats, grains and lentils. Forgot to plan dinner with all the things that are on your mind, no problem! With the faster cooking time, you can still have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Isn’t this exactly what all busy parents have been looking for?
Is it safe to use, especially around kids? I know that people have been afraid to use the pressure cooker, however the instant pot has done a great job with adding many safety features which can also mitigate many user errors. A few examples – 1. Lid Close Detection, which means it won’t start pressure cooking unless the lid is in place. 2. Lid Lock Under Pressure, which means if there is pressure built inside the pot, the lid will be locked to prevent accidental opening. 3. If the Instant Pot detects there is not enough liquid in the pot or if the temperature is too high, then the instant pot automatically shuts off.
What are the benefits to me as busy parents?
This is the place where I want to share one way that I use the Instant Pot. Right after I wake up, I come to the kitchen and add steel cut oats, milk and water to the instant pot and set it to pressure cook for 3 minutes. Then I go my happy way to get myself and my daughter ready for daycare. In the meantime, the instant pot has already cooked the oatmeal and switched to Keep Warm mode. So when we are ready, warm and healthy breakfast is waiting for us. With the breakfast taken care of, I feel there is one less thing to take care of in the morning. Some folks have been making their morning tea in the instant pot, which they keep on delay timer. Sounds like a great way to start the day!
Moving on to the benefits…
- No baby sitting for the food
When you are already taking care of babies or kids at home, not having to babysit the food being cooked is a big thing. When I asked parents, what was the one feature that they love of the instant pot, this one jumps to the top. The ability to walk away without constant stirring and monitoring is huge. You prepare the ingredients and start the instant pot before taking kids to their evening or weekend classes and by the time you come back, food is ready to be served. Many people love the delay start feature, so they can set the food to cook on a delay start, so the food is ready when they come back from work. The Instant Pot has certainly helped families eat less junk food.
- You don’t have to plan much ahead for your dinner
As a busy parent, I always forget and don’t plan ahead for dinner. So the instant pot has been great to cook simple meals in a meager 20-30 minutes. I started my instant pot journey with simple recipes such as lentil soup, rice & vegetable pilaf, chicken curry and pasta. Even a restaurant style butter chicken or a chinese takeout orange chicken takes just 30 minutes to make in the instant pot. One parent said, “I can cook a healthy meal from frozen when I get too busy and forget to pull things out of the freezer“. People are cooking meals that they always had as a take-out or in a sit down restaurant, so I will also add in the side benefit, that the instant pot saves you money.
- One-pot meals with the built-in Saute function, means less dishes to wash
Let me explain, you can saute and pressure cook in the same pot. You can also do pot-in-pot cooking, which means I can make a curry in the main pot, along with the rice in a small pot kept on a trivet. So now you are only using one pot to make the whole meal, which translates to less things to wash. I love that…and my husband loves that even more (he doesn’t cook, so guess what he gets to do :-)). The more important thing, this translates to is less time in the kitchen and more time with the kids.
- Food tastes better and you can cook do meal prep
I know I just mentioned that you don’t have to plan much ahead with the instant pot, however if you are a planner and like to meal prep on the weekends, Instant Pot is still a great choice for you. I can easily make ten servings of soup or curry in my 6qt instant pot. In addition, as this is a pressure cooker, it locks in flavors which results in better tasting meals.
Lentil & Vegetable Khichdi: A nutritious one-pot meal for kids
And some real benefits for new or soon-to-be parents, which will make you add the instant pot to your baby registry right away:
- It can sterilize baby bottles and pump parts
New parents spend significant amount of the very little time they get, cleaning and sterilizing baby bottles and pump parts. With the instant pot, you can sterilize them easily. The newer models of instant pot even have a built in Sterilize function. Every minute saved is precious with little ones at home! One mom mentioned a not so apparent benefit of the instant pot, compared to a regular pressure cooker, “It doesn’t wake a sleeping baby (or scare a cat!)“
- It can make baby food
Some people complain that veggies get overcooked under pressure. However that is exactly the texture you need for veggies, lentils or grains cooked for babies. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, squash can be cooked in 5 minutes and mashed to make perfect baby food. (To clarify, you can also cook veggies right in the instant pot so they are not overcooked and mushy).
Finally I do want to mention that Instant Pot has sold over 10 million units and been a word of mouth success (read about it here). This translated to an awesome online community to learn and share, who call themselves as Potheads. There are hundreds of Facebook groups, for every cuisine and culture. I am from India and want my kids to understand and enjoy Indian food. There is an “Instant Pot for Indian Cooking” facebook group with more than 100K members, who actively share recipes and tips. Just a quick search on Google or Pinterest will show great options for any dish you want to make.
Finally, here are some of my daughter’s favorites Indian dishes made in the Instant Pot.
Ready to check out the latest craze in kitchen gadgets ?