Cooking with the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

I bought myself a new kitchen toy!  It is called an Instant Pot and it is a pressure cooker.  If you’ve been following my series about batch cooking using the Happy Herbivore meal plans than you’ll know that I cook a week’s worth of lunches and dinners all at once.  I love the convenience of that however I was running into a problem. I really don’t have as many pans or burners as I’d like to have.  Especially if I’m making up a big batch of rice or beans!  So I bought a pressure cooker to help alleviate that issue a bit.IMG_20150904_144820

Can I tell you that I love this thing.  I’ve only just scratched the surface of what it can do.  The first thing I tried was steamed sweet potatoes.  I just poured some water in the pot, place the potatoes on a wrack, closed it up and hit the steam button and set the time for about 20 minutes.  I had the BEST sweet potatoes ever!  Some people will roast them in the oven for a bit but I don’t bother.

How about cooking up your own dried beans?  I can buy them in bulk now and save so much money.  And no standing over the stove.  The only take about a half hour!  The same story with rice!  Pour in the rice and water, hit the rice button, walk away.  25 minutes later you have perfect rice!

This is all I’ve tried so far!  I’m anxious to make some soups and things.  There are a million recipes out there.  I’ll keep you updated.

 

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans… The Food!

MealPlanSeriesFoodSo far I’ve shared with you what shopping with this meal plan is like.  I’ve also discussed how easy batch cooking is.  However, none of that matters much if the food isn’t any good.  So how IS the food?

DELICIOUS!

The end!

So I really could end this post right there.  How many ways can I tell you how absolutely yummy all of the meals are?  Sure I have my favorites.  And yes there are a couple I wasn’t overly thrilled with.  To like some foods more than others is to be human.  However, I think it is safe to say I LOVE 7 out of 10 meals and probably don’t care for maybe just 1 meal out of the same 10.

I LOVE THIS FOOD!

The meal plans are geared for the season.  For the summer months there were so many light salads, barbecue, and everything used all of the fresh in season produce.  I think our favorite were the watermelon tacos.  There were tacos made from beans with a for die for watermelon salsa.  I would have NEVER thought of it on my own.  IT IS SO GOOD!

We are now headed into the fall and we are starting to see more squash, soups, stews and all things that make you think of this time of year. I wish I had a million photos for you.  Truth is, I’m too busy eating to take them.  You’ll have to trust me.  Even my children agree.

Pita Pizza

Pita Pizza

Some of my favorite meals so far…

  • Smoked Corn Chowder
  • BBQ Nachos
  • Samosa Lettuce Cups
  • BBQ Peach Sliders
  • Watermelon Tacos
  • Vegetable Paella
  • Zucchini Bruschetta
  • Mac Attack Burgers
  • “Lobster” Rolls

The meal plans are delivered to my email box ever Wednesday around 1 in the morning.  When I wake up I am so excited to see what in in store for me for the next week.  There are always at least 4 recipes that have never been in the meal plan before.

I’ve never been this excited about food before!

One last note before I wrap up this post.  I just want to make it clear since I often write reviews about products that I get for free.  These meals plans I pay for monthly out of my own pocket.  I just thought you might want to know.

My next and probably final post in this series will talk about the differences we’ve seen in our health since we started these meal plans!  Stay tuned!

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans…Batch Cooking

MealPlanSeriesBatch Cooking

I recently wrote about what shopping for these meal plans is like and what happened to my grocery bill the first time we went out.  If you recall it shot up about $100!  You can read all about that here.  I’m happy to report that after a few more weeks we are now saving money!  Before we began the meal plans, even though we ate a plant based whole foods diet, we struggled to keep our grocery bill under $200 a week.  Now we are averaging about $150 a week.  What is amazing too is we are now actually cooking for one extra adult and still our grocery bill is lower than it was.  So for 3 adults, 3 children and an infant we now spend just $150 most weeks.  We shop at Trader Joe’s.  Most of our produce is fresh and much, though not all, is organic.  Can I tell you I love the savings?

On to this week’s topic!  The actual batch cooking!  The beautiful thing about these meal plans is that they come with a set of directions to help you organize yourself to cook up everything in one day.  This is making me actually enjoy cooking.  I’m not much of a cook.  I just don’t enjoy making the mess, cleaning it up, or all of the hassle.  However, I LOVE batch cooking!  All of the kitchen craziness happens all in one day for just a couple of hours.  I heat the oven just once.  I clean up as I go along.  I can really get into cooking like this!  It is FUN!  Plus the directions for each recipe are so easy to follow.  I feel like I could grow into becoming a real chef!  Ok, I won’t get crazy but you get the idea.

What is really nice is all week long I just pull food from the fridge, eat it up, and set it on the table.  It makes every day a lot less stressful.  We have more time to eat and enjoy each other as a family before we race off to some crazy activity.  I love it.

So how does the batch cooking work?  The batch cooking instructions are laid out so that as you cook things make sense.  You are putting things into the oven relatively at the same time.  You’ve go some things simmering while you are blending something else.  It is a lot to juggle at once but it works.

It does take me about 3 hours to cook for the week.  If I were able to do the chopping of vegetables and that sort of thing ahead of time the actual cooking would take probably an hour.  I’m a slow chopper.  My knife skills are poor.  So I’m slow.  But I’d rather be slow on Sunday then stressing about being slow on Monday when I’ve got to get my kids to karate.

We invested in some extra glass storage.  After batch cooking my fridge is FULL!  Ok, both of my fridges are FULL!  It is a lot of food to put away.  I use blue painter’s tape as I call it, the stuff that doesn’t permanently adhere to anything, to write labels on everything.  Sometimes I have 3 or 4 containers for one meal.  The labels help me keep it all straight.

I’m a fan of batch cooking!  I hope I can get faster at it some day.  I would never batch cook without the directions from the meal plans.  I’d be too overwhelmed.  This system works!

My Experiment With Batch Cooking and The Happy Herbivore Meal Plans…a multi part series

*Post may contain affiliate links.

My family has been at this Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) way of eating for at least 3 and half years now. Switching up our diet was one of the better decisions we’ve ever made.  I talked about our reasons in a former blog post Why A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet a while back.  To sum it up for you I can say this… WFPB gives us greater health, more money in my pocket, it save’s God’s animal creatures, and it has a positive impact on the environment.  It feels a bit irresponsible to me to eat any other way.

MealPlanSeries

All of that said I’m just like any other mom.  I’ve got four crazy kiddos, a hectic schedule, and more commitments than I probably should have.  I’m also not all that crazy about cooking.  My husband is the real chef of the family.  Our 7 year old son is following in his foot steps.  In our house it is usually my husband’s responsibility to do the meal planning, food shopping, and a good deal of the cooking.  Lately though it has made more sense for me to take on more of these responsibilities.  Evenings are simply easier if I can get dinner on the table as my husband is arriving home instead of sitting down to eat an hour later as is typical if he cooks.

The problem is that I’m not that great of a cook.  I just don’t have the experience.  Creating meal plans and shopping lists is time consuming and overwhelming for me because these are not things I’m used to doing.  Who has TIME for all of this!  Not me!  Set me loose in a grocery store and I’m likely to break the budget by hundreds of dollars and come home with nothing that we can actually make a meal out of.  That’s where The Happy Herbivore comes in. The Happy Herbivore, also known as Lindsay S. Nixon, is a fantastic lady and fabulous chef.   I love her cookbooks.  ALL OF THEM!  Which is ironic because cooking just isn’t that exciting to me.  My family has been using her recipes since we began our plant-based journey so I know her meals to be simple to make and totally delicious.  That makes me excited buy her meal plans.

Over the next several weeks I’ll share with you how these meal plans work, especially for someone like me who has limited grocery shopping and cooking experience.  We hope to cook most of a week’s worth of meals at once so cooking each night is a snap.  Plus then my hubby can lend me a hand.  Heading into this I have some goals.  I’d like to clean up our diet a little.  We aren’t perfect.  I’ve fallen back into a potato chip habit and we are using a lot more oil than we once did.  I’d like to see if we can shave our grocery budget a bit.  I’d like to try some new recipes as I feel like we’ve fallen into a bit of rut with our meals.  I also would love to finally understand the joy that others find in the kitchen.  That’d be amazing!

 

 

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