You probably already know that an Instant Pot is one of the best bang-for-your-buck purchases you can make. But if you're not already meal-prepping with your multicooker, you're missing out on a lot of what it can do. To make it worth every penny (and save you some time on busy weekdays), we recommend prepping and freezing your Instant Pot meals in advance.
New to meal prepping? Don’t worry, we've got you covered. If you want to save some time, these freezer-friendly recipes are going to be your new best friends. A great tip from the TIDBITS blog to keep in mind is that you can simply double a pressure cooker recipe and freeze half of it to make later.
First, let's go over what you need to prep these meals properly.
First and foremost, you'll need an electric pressure cooker. While I swear by my Instant Pot Duo, the Reviewed team has tested all the top multi-cookers and found out that the Instant Pot Smart WiFi and Crock-Pot multi-cooker are your best options.
Everything else you need to prep your meals:
- Large, freezer-safe resealable bags
- Hands-free bag holders to prevent spills
- Freezer-safe containers that fit inside the Instant Pot
- A permanent marker and labels
- A cutting board
- A good chef's knife
Meal prepping do's and don'ts
Label your meals as you make them. Include the date you made it and/or its expiration date, and write down the basic instructions: pressure settings and time, if it needs to be thawed first, whether you need to release pressure naturally or with quick release, if there are any steps after the pressure cooking is done, and if any day-of ingredients need to be added.
Some recipes can be cooked from frozen, some may need to be thawed. The most important thing is that you have at least a cup of liquid in the recipe. Without enough liquid, the meal won't come to pressure and/or will burn and cook wrong.
If you are planning to cook from frozen, it's also important to freeze the ingredients in a shape that will fit in the pot. The inner pot works well if you can spare it, but anything comparably sized will work too. Just pop your bag of ingredients into the container and then freeze to retain the shape. The key is that the food can sit in an even layer on the bottom of the pot so it cooks evenly.
Our favorite Instant Pot recipes
From balanced breakfasts to savory weeknight dinners, here are 8 of our favorite meal-prep-friendly recipes for the Instant Pot.
1. Honey bourbon chicken
This recipe for honey bourbon chicken from Once a Month Meals is perfect for serving over a bed or rice or greens, and even better? It's perfect for freezing and making later too. Once a Month Meals provide instructions to make it right away and steps for freezing it as well. Plus, there's a gluten- and dairy-free variation so you can enjoy this tasty dish even if you have dietary restrictions. (And, according to the blogger, the recipe is inspired by Bourbon St. in New Orleans and doesn't actually contain any alcohol.)
2. Beef Stroganoff
Beef Stroganoff is a Russian dish that consists of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream). From its origin in mid-19th-century Russia, it has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe. This recipe by Lissa on All Recipes can help you prepare a pot of fork-tender beef and creamy mushrooms with egg noodles. It's an Instant Pot must-try!
3. 10-minute frozen salmon
Salmon is one of those foods that's so delicious, but so easy to mess up. Overcook it and it's dry and flavorless. Undercook it and, well, ew. (Except sushi, but that's different!) You also basically have to use it as soon as you buy it so it's fresh and tastes the best. But you can also freeze it and cook it from frozen in your pressure cooker. This recipe from Super Healthy Kids explains how to freeze and prep the food, with loads of photos along the way.
4. Coconut rice pudding
Coconut lovers, look no further. This recipe from This Old Gal is your dessert dream. Coconut milk makes this rice pudding extra creamy without the common addition of egg and heavy cream. You can also add some dates or raisins to increase the sweetness. The recipe doesn't have freezer instructions, but you can freeze the leftovers and warm them up whenever you crave rice pudding!
5. Spicy orange beef
This recipe from Pressure Cooking Today for spicy orange beef doesn't come with freezer-specific instructions, but basically, you add every ingredient but the cornstarch slurry (which will thicken the sauce) to your freezer bag. When it comes time to cook, skip the sauté function and follow the other instructions as-is. You may need to add 5-10 minutes to your cook time, but start with the recommended times and add more time after the first cycle is complete.
6. Chili con carne
This chili isn't wildly spicy, but if you want to spice things up, you can add more chipotle or minced jalapeño pepper with onions and garlic. The author Ella Quittner also recommends adding achiote paste—a seasoning blend from the Yucatan with dried peppers, annatto seeds, cumin, dried garlic, and other spices to amp up the flavor. It is easy to prepare and to store.
7. A whole chicken (yep, the whole thing)
Cooking frozen chicken in a pressure cooker is incredible. It takes a fraction of the time that other methods, you don't have to thaw it first, and it comes out delicious. The best part is you can literally cook an entire chicken, which is great for prepping a week's worth of lunches at once. This recipe from Vanessa.Fitness explains how to prep the chicken with a classic herb assortment, but you could definitely customize the flavors to your tastes. Sprigs of rosemary and thyme, sage, and lemon slices come to mind.
8. Easy steel cut oats
Not all freezer meals need to be dinners, and this recipe from FoodieCrush makes it easy to prep a healthy breakfast for busy mornings. All you have to do is set your Instant Pot up, add the ingredients, and let it do its thing while you do yours. By the time you're done getting ready for your day, breakfast will be ready and you can relax and enjoy your sweet, nutritious meal instead of grabbing a muffin or something else less-than-ideal.
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