Hello from Ives & Christy
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I think we can all agree that the Instant Pot can be a little overwhelming when you first start using it! As a new mom and living in a house that is constantly under construction this has been a staple in my kitchen for healthy and comforting stews, shredded chicken to add to quick salads or soups, and cooking sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, and other various squashes in less than half the time. I am in no way sponsored by Instant Pot, just here to help a mama and busy individuals out so you can spend your time cuddling and playing with your babes (human or fur). As a working mom, this has become even more important to me. I didn't really get all the hype in the beginning, but it's kind of like having a sous chef to help you out in the kitchen. When I saw more and more people using it, I finally decided to pull the trigger when Amazon Prime deals were happening and got it for half the price. At this point, I think prices have gone down and it's fairly affordable.
The Instant Pot can also be overwhelming, there are lots of parts and buttons which can make it feel intimidating, so I wanted to create an easy to follow guide to help take out the intimidation factor and make it easy for you to get started! I will not go over EVERY detail, that's what the manual is for, but rather give you the information you need to make it easy for you to get started as well as 8 staple recipes to make your meal prep life easier.
If you want a quick hit list of what you need to know before getting started, just scroll past this part!
What is an Instant Pot?:
If you already have one and just haven't used it yet then you probably know what it is, but if you stumbled upon this blog post and are still in the market and determining if you want one, then simply put an Instant Pot is a relatively compact counter appliance, the same size as a slow cooker. What's so great about it? Well, it's a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and rice cooker all in one. It also has a saute feature, which saves you an extra pot and step when cooking any type of stew. There are a few other features I haven't used yet... such as a yogurt maker, I would like to try this feature some day!
There are a few different versions of the Instant Pot, here is a comparison chart. I have the Duo Classic 6 quart (cheapest version), but it looks like the Duo Nova is best for beginners. The main differences are the easy to read LED display on the front, a cooking progress indicator, and an easy steam release option. I can't speak to these differences in detail, because I haven't used the Nova, but if I were to guess it's just a little more user friendly. For a price difference of $30 (a 6 quart in the Duo Nova currently isn't available, so the $30 price difference is for an 8 quart ), it may be worth it! If you want to save a little money, then the classic works great from my experience.
There are also a number of inserts you can purchase, including an Air Fryer Lid and a silicon egg rack to make eggs bites. We are going to keep it pretty simple for this post, to help you get started, but if you are interested in all of the inserts available, check out a list I found here.
Identifying the most important parts and pieces:
1. Steam release and float valve- The steam release will allow you to quick release. In addition, before you pressure cook anything (press start), if you have the duo classic then the valve should always be placed in the "sealed" position, see second picture to the right. More about the valve and steam release below in the quick hit list (#2).
2. Stainless steel inner pot- It should always placed inside the Instant Pot cooker and it's dishwasher safe! I almost didn't include this one because it's pretty self explanatory, but it's what will house all your yummy ingredients.
3. Sealing ring- it should always be placed on the inside of the lid and should be replaced every 18-24 months. In order for pressure to seal it has to be in place.
5. Stainless steel steam rack with handle- Used to elevate food. It goes back to making sure nothing burns. If you are making a stew or soup, it isn't needed. If you are slow roasting meat or have minimal liquid, then us it. It's also designed for easy transfer in and out of the pot. You simply place it in the stainless steel pot, just the way it looks in teh picture to the right.
6. Button functionality- Once it is plugged in, I typically just press the button for whatever I am making (poultry, rice, etc.) and it will automatically begin the process. The time will automatically set, but you can also adjust the time manually if you need to. Here is full button manual if you want to get into more detail.
These are the most important functions and parts to understand from my point of view to simply get you started! If you want more details, you can find the full manual here.
Quick hit list of what you NEED to know before you get started:
8 staple foods to make in the Instant Pot to make food prep throughout the week a breeze:
I hope this helps you get started! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.