When the Instant Pot first came on the scene, I have to admit, I was wary. Why was everyone making such a big deal about it? You can make stews and soups in it but also yogurt? How is that even possible? As someone who always likes to assume the worst (that's a conversation for another time), I just thought it was more As Seen on TV hype.
But then I saw my friends making full-blown, very adult-like meals in the thing: pot roast, from-scratch chicken noodle soup, and, yes, even homemade yogurt, all while I was doctoring Trader Joe's frozen foods and making the same salmon and veggies every week because I didn't want to spend hours cooking in the kitchen. I was tempted to give in to the craze, but again, what if it wasn't worth it? And could I fit it in my tiny New York City kitchen that I shared with two other roommates? But after hearing from friends and co-workers going on and on about the Instant Pot for months, I decided enough was enough, and I gave in (and I cleared some space in my kitchen cabinets for the bulky appliance).
For my inaugural Instant Pot meal, I made a chicken noodle soup. It was below normal temperatures at the time, so what better thing to have on hand than homemade soup? For the most part, the whole process went off without a hitch. I was a bit confused that the recipe had called for me to sear the chicken in the Instant Pot—I thought it was one of those things where you literally throw everything in raw and "set it and forget it." (Have I told you my culinary skills are still evolving?) While that's sort of the case, you'll find there are a couple more steps to most recipes. The most daunting part of my first time (with the Instant Pot) was thinking the whole thing would explode as it was cooking—and when the steam was releasing I was ready to call the fire department. (See: Above, where I said I always assume the worst). And lastly, I was confused by the term "Instant," because to me that means homemade soup in 15 minutes (prep time included; I have high standards), but to the Instant Pot, that meant an hour and a half.
Eventually—and after a few times making various recipes in my Instant Pot—I learned that the noises were normal; that yes, some dishes call for more elbow grease; and even if it takes around two hours to make a pot roast, it beats the four or five hours it takes with normal preparation methods. So yes, I caught onto the hype. It saved me a lot of time, made cooking more fun and exciting, and when the gas was out at my apartment for a month due to repairs, it was my lifeline.
Believe it or not, it helped me make better, healthier eating choices. Instead of opting for takeout or delivery on weeknights, I was more motivated to meal-prep grain bowls or veggie soups over the weekend because it wasn't a whole-afternoon affair of toiling over the stove. It just meant about 30 minutes of prep time and an hour and change of watching Netflix while I set it and forgot it. Seriously, if you're trying to eat better or meal-prep more, I can't recommend the Instant Pot enough. There are so many healthy recipe ideas out there to try.
After almost a year of Instant Pot bliss, I packed up my things and moved back to Los Angeles. I ended up moving home with my mother for six months before getting my own place. And while living rent-free and eating home-cooked meals was so nice (my mother is an angel on Earth), I missed cooking, especially my Instant Pot meal prep weekends. While I could have taken it out of my moving boxes, I didn't want to go through the trouble, and my mom's kitchen was already packed to the gills with her own stuff. I wanted to be a good houseguest.
I understand there are worse problems to have in this world, but I like to celebrate the little joys in life, and one such joy was finally being reunited with my Instant Pot last weekend when I moved into my own place. I unpacked the box and gave it a little squeeze (not kidding). I have yet to cook anything because I've been busy unpacking and assembling furniture and too lazy to make anything, but I'm so excited to have it within arm's reach during these upcoming wintry months. There are many soups, stews, and chilis to be made.
You might have gotten to the end of this and thought, This chick just wrote a love letter to her Instant Pot… weirdo. Or maybe, Wow, sold. I want one now! If you're the latter, you'll be happy to know that different models of the Instant Pot are on sale this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take a look at your options, click to buy, and send me your favorite recipes. Happy cooking!