5 Reasons Why An Instant Pot is the Ultimate Dorm Kitchen Tool

I adore my mom for so many reasons it'd be impossible to list them all. But the most recent one is that she surprised me with a housewarming gift for my first apartment: an Instant Pot. The model she bought me was the Instant Pot Duo 3qt Mini. It was a little intimidating at first because the pressure-cooking mechanism uses dangerously hot steam and the ten different settings on it all cook food in different ways. But after a few frantic Facetime calls with my mom and countless YouTube tutorials, I got the hang of it. Since then, it has quickly become a tool that I use daily and it has vastly improved the quality of the food that I prepare for myself. It kind of reminds me of the movie The Brave Little Toaster, because this unassuming little appliance has completely changed the way I look at my kitchen. If you were thinking of getting one for yourself, let me tell you about all the ways I upgraded my cooking game with my brave little Instant Pot.

  1. 1. You can set it and forget about it.

    white and black alarm clock with hand on gray table

    It may only be the fourth week of class, but I am in full, busy study-mode. On nights where I have over 100 pages of reading to do, the Instant Pot has become my best friend. I can just throw some chicken thighs and broccoli with Trader Joes Soyaki sauce into my Instant Pot for 15 minutes to make a satisfying meal. It's way faster than ordering delivery and I can do all of my cooking without ever closing my textbook.

  2. 2. It makes rice absolutely delicious.

    Rice

    Rice is one of those kitchen staples that go with every quick and easy college meal. You can pair it with basically any protein, fry it, turn it into a taco bowl, add seasoning for a spicy jambalaya, and even make delicious rice pudding. But the one thing about rice is that I kind of suck at cooking it in a traditional saucepan. I always seem to burn it, make it too mushy, and, on one occasion, even turn it into a rice pancake.  But the Instant Pot makes perfect rice every time. All I have to do is throw my rice in, close the lid, press start, and voila! Four minutes later I have delicious rice that becomes a blank canvas for the rest of my meal. 

  3. 3. It allows you to meal prep for cheap.

    Three pre-made meals in containers

    Don’t let the "mini" in the name of my Instant Pot fool you. That little silver workhorse can whip up week sized batches of meals without breaking a sweat. The best part is, the pressure mechanism my Instant Pot uses for cooking can turn inexpensive pieces of meat into melt in your mouth goodness. I have made shredded chicken fajita bowls, Dijon mustard pork loin, and even my mom's recipe for Cuban pot roast (ropa vieja). For a single college girl like me, these large meals can add up to a week worth of dinners at only about $4.00 a portion. I can just do my cooking over the weekend and in a pinch, I have budget-friendly, delicious meals that I can throw in the microwave all week long.

  4. 4. It can literally do everything.

    vegetables and tomatoes on cutting board

    The Instant Pot can do much more than bake beans and roast beef. The pressure-cooking system can make a wide variety of different culinary delicacies all in its little 3-quart pot. Most recently, I have been on a soup kick and have been making silky vegetable purees and tangy curried lentils to keep me going in the middle of my busy workdays. I have even tried making yogurt, yes, you heard me correctly, yogurt in my Instant Pot. It’s three ingredients and yields a ton of fresh creamy yogurt that tastes way better than the stuff you buy at the grocery store. It still amazes me that one compact gadget can replace four kitchen appliances which I would not have even had the space to store in my shoebox kitchen.

  5. 5. You can try so many recipes with it.

    Working from home has given me lots of time to plunge deep into the bowels of Pinterest to find some amazing recipes. It seems like every food blogger and their grandmother has one of these things and has posted at least ten exciting recipes for it. I was even able to find recipes for more obscure Cuban dishes that allowed me to come home through cooking when hopping a quick flight to Florida wasn’t an option. No matter where you are from, if you can think of a dish that reminds you of home, there is an Instant Pot version of it.

This socially distanced fall semester has been a huge adjustment, but one of the things that has gotten me through all these changes has been learning to cook with my Instant Pot. Getting the chance to experiment with different flavors in my Instant Pot while unwinding from a workday helps me forget all the ways the COVID-19 has affected my life. In a way, cooking is just another activity that celebrates what is good about life.

Whether you are cooking in your family home for everyone you love or just practicing self-love through clean eating, finding a positive perspective on learning to cook can truly make anything delicious.

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