9 Ways to Hack Your Instant Pot for Easier Meal Prep

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The Instant Pot can seem a little daunting. All of those buttons and settings make it a little more complicated than your trusty slow cooker, that's for sure. But let me tell you something—this thing was made for meal prep. Once you figure out the ins and outs of the multi-cooker, it can save you hours every Sunday preparing your go-to healthy staples for weekday breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Instead of firing up the oven, you can whip up sweet potatoes in half the time. And your grains? Rice and quinoa will be fluffy as ever in a handful of minutes without anything overflowing onto the stovetop. You can even make hard-boiled eggs and steel-cut oats in a jiffy. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your Instant Pot and utilize these hacks for your easiest week of meal prep yet.

These are the top nine ways to hack your Instant Pot for easy meal prep

1. Steam spagetti squash

Instead of roasting spaghetti squash in the oven for 40 minutes, you can make it in your Instant Pot in 20. According to Nom Nom Paleo, all you need to do is cut it in half crosswise, scoop out the seeds, and set the halves on the steamer insert inside the Instant Pot. After the cook time is up (about seven minutes), you can shred it with a fork and devour it per usual.

2. Cook every type of bean—even the dried ones

With their insane amount of protein, beans should be a meal-prep staple every week. Whether you're into black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans, Green Healthy Cooking has the step-by-step instructions for getting the job done correctly. You can even cook dried beans without soaking them first in record time.

3. Use it as a rice-cooker

It's well-known at this point that the Instant Pot can make better rice than some of the priciest rice cookers on the market. (And who wants to shell out for an extra gadget to take up counter space?) To get the best batch to eat throughout the week, Platings + Pairings recommends using an even ratio of water to rice, a teaspoon of oil, and a pinch of salt.

4. Cook sweet potatoes in half the time

Yep, you can put whole sweet potatoes right in your Instant Pot. No matter how you want to use them throughout the week, Sweet Peas and Saffron says it only takes 30 minutes to get the perfectly soft, creamy center—aka half the time it'd take in the oven. You can make a fluffy option using Idaho potatoes, too, for a healthy weeknight baked potato bar.

5. Make extra-fluffy quinoa

While making quinoa on the stovetop can be a hit or miss, it's easy-peasy in an Instant Pot. Fit Foodie Finds has the perfect method to make big batches: After rinsing and shaking the water out, cook your quinoa for five minutes under "high pressure," then switch the pressure valve to vent to release the steam.

6. Cook hard-boiled eggs in minutes

Instead of trying to make hard-boiled eggs on the stove, grab your Instant Pot. According to Skinny Taste, you can get the job done in only five minutes. Once they're done, run them under cold water and peel.

7. Steam every type of veggie, ever

There's no over-steaming veggies up in here. You can make just about any option you want in your Instant Pot without them getting soggy: carrots, onions, peppers, cauliflower...you name it. According to Recipes From a Pantry, the timer for broccoli, for example, only needs to be set for 0 minutes. Nope, that's not a typo. Basically the veggies cook in the time that the IP comes to pressure—then you vent off the steam to avoid overcooking. Powerful stuff, huh?

8. Cook steel-cut oats in a fraction of the time

Steel-cut oats are incredibly healthy, but they take for-freakin'-ever to make. Instead, make your mornings easier by making a batch in bulk with your Instant Pot. Detoxinista says the cook time is only 4 minutes, then you let the cooker naturally release steam for another 20.

9. Make vegan bone broth

There's no need to spend big bucks on the bone broth craze when you can make a healthy vegan version at home. After you make your broth (which only takes 15 minutes of prep time!), drink it by itself or add it into other dishes throughout the week as an easy way to to amp up the flavor.

For more fun with your Instant Pot, try out some delicious recipes—like these four that are perfect for summer, because it's never too early! But before you do, make sure you're cleaning the part of your multi-cooker that's often forgotten about.

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