The Instant Pot really can simplify your life if you let it. You can literally set it and forget about it while you work on something else like cut veggies, tend to the stove, or sit and read a book. I’ve found that using my instant pot to cook things like shredded chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and rice for meal prep make my life so much easier. However, there are a variety of other foods that are perfect for instant pot meal prep as well.
This list is sure to help you get started using your instant pot to get ahead in your kitchen!
Healthy Instant Pot Meal Prep: Simple Foods to Prep
1. Hard Boiled Eggs
Making hard boiled eggs in your instant pot is a really easy, hands-off approach. The best part has to be that the shells seem to peel off easily every single time if I cook them in the instant pot. It takes about 15 minutes to make them in the instant pot and an additional 5 minutes to soak in ice water afterward.
Hard-boiled eggs are perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. Yes, that’s all of the times that you could possibly eat in a day. Basically, hard-boiled eggs are super handy to keep on hand for a quick protein source. (By the way, if you need more protein snack ideas, be sure to grab my list at the bottom of this post!)
2. Cook Simple Meats
Making shredded meat was one of the first ways I started doing instant pot meal prep. I used to do this in my crockpot, but it’s so quick to do in my Instant Pot I find myself using it more often anymore. Cooking chicken like this Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken and shredding it for salads, burrito bowls, or as an entree alongside some seasoned veggies works really well.
3. Cook Your Grains
- Rice – Now you can get rid of your rice cooker because the instant pot does this too! In fact, nowadays I almost always cook my rice in the instant pot instead of the stove. Green Healthy Cooking has a really good article on Failproof Instant Pot Rice. Rice can be used all week in burrito bowls, stir-frys, and eaten as a side. Making it in the instant pot will allow it to go on autopilot while you work on other food prep for the week.
- Quinoa – Instant pot quinoa is another easy grain you can cook on autopilot. Like rice, it can be a versatile ingredient in a variety of meals.
- Steel-Cut Oats – This is my favorite Instant Pot steel cut oats recipe and it is perfect for breakfast meal prep.
4. Steam Vegetables
I actually didn’t start doing this until we started baby led weaning with my son! But when he first started eating, I kept soft steamed veggies on hand for him and realized the instant pot was the perfect way to do them – for baby or adult. 😉
I used a basic steamer basket, but I also have this instant pot steamer basket (affiliate link) on my wish list. Great vegetables to steam include carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans just to name a few. You can reference the vegetable steaming times here on Instant Pot’s website.
5. Soups, Stews, and other One-Pot Meals
Soups and stews almost always make good recipes to prep ahead for the week since they save well in both the fridge and freezer and reheat just as easily! There are loads of delicious instant pot soups and stews out there. In fact, be sure to check out my article featuring instant pot meal prep recipes from Registered Dietitians as it is full of soups, stews, and one pot meals that are perfect to make for later.
6. Beans and Lentils
Prep beans or lentils for weekly staples or to mix in meals throughout the week in your Instant Pot. Again, here are the cook times. I’ve found that I need to cook beans on the higher end of these times. Of course, as always, soaking reduces cook time, but if you have the tendency to be a last-minute cook (no shame, me too!) they will still cook fairly quickly as compared to other devices.
7. Spaghetti Squash
Just last week I cooked a spaghetti squash in my Instant Pot, and it was incredibly simple. I used this method from the Kitchn which I liked because you do not have to cut the spaghetti squash in half. Instead, simply make vents by piercing the skin with a knife. The spaghetti squash can be worked into different dishes in place of pasta or simply eaten with marinara sauce on top (one of my favorite super easy meals!)
Yogurt is one of the most popular instant pot meal prep foods. And sadly, I haven’t actually done it. But I have friends that do and love it! I’m sad to admit that my instant pot does not have the yogurt button. 😟 (It was a Black Friday special several years ago before they were super popular.) If I ever upgrade my pot, it will be to this one. However, while the yogurt button does make it simpler, it can still be done without!
- If you have the fancy instant pot with the special yogurt button it’s easy to do with this popular method.
- If you don’t have the yogurt button, here’s how you can still make yogurt in a pressure cooker!
Strategies for Instant Pot Meal Prep
- Start your Instant Pot first so it can be cooking while you work on other dishes, chop vegetables, or cook on the stove.
- If you have multiple items to cook in the Instant Pot, consider which you will need to do first. For example, if you are going to be using rice in another dish, you may want to cook it before boiled eggs, which you plan to just leave in your fridge for snacks.
- If one big food prep session does not work for you, you can use your Instant Pot throughout the week while you do house chores to cook various foods to have on hand and lighten the evening dinner load.
Decide what strategy will work best for you to use the Instant Pot to simplify your meal prep routine. By the way, if you are new to meal prep be sure to read my article on meal prep basics for my favorite ideas on making meal prep work for you and your family. And don’t forget to grab my simple snack list below, which includes protein snacks you can prep and even some snacks that involve NO PREP!