One of the hardest things about fulltime traveling has been the challenges that I face with trying to cook for a (larger than average) family in our small rv kitchen! There are certain kitchen tools that made my job much easier in the house, that I just don’t have room for in the rv!
Our kitchen in the house had room for every kitchen toy I could want, as well as a pantry. I also had a second 25 sf fridge, and 3 large chest freezers. I used commercial grade (and sized) cookware, made double batches of everything, and the kids could make whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. We weren’t restricted by propane levels, outdoor temperatures, or food storage issues.
In the RV, things are different. Worth it, but very different.
I had to say goodbye to many of my fav kitchen items. A few did make it into the rv, but storage is still a touchy issue (non-existent!). That’s why I was so tickled to find this new multi-use ‘toy’!
The Instant Pot is a 7 in 1 cooker – it is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and yogurt maker, that also saute’s and steams, and works as a warmer.
With the Instant Pot, I was able to replace my rice cooker and crock pot both with this one item, saving a ton of room (relative) in my small kitchen, and I was also able to add in the benefit of a pressure cooker. I am fabulous at forgetting to take dinner out to thaw, so the pressure cooker saves me time and again on my last minute efforts to feed the tribe something decent! I use it to cook meat from frozen, cook thawed meat last minute (roast in 20 minutes!), make stir fry, simmer broth (including bone broth in 90 minutes), and make perfect rice. I can cook everything I used to cook in the slow cooker in it, and it even has a delay start so we can throw something in, leave for the day, then come home to a perfectly cooked dinner (beans and rice is a fav for that).
When I first received my Instant Pot, there were several things that I loved about it straight out of the box!
1. it comes with a stainless steel pot! Many of the all-in-one cookers have teflon pans; we did not want teflon for health reasons, so not having to spend $3o to replace a teflon pot with a stainless one made me a happy camper!
2. It comes with a small recipe book made just just for the Instant Pot! While I didn’t make a recipe out of the book for my first meal using the IP, I did read through several recipes out of the book, and that was enough to get a handle on how to use it. The IP also includes a quick reference guide that is helpful if you are impatient to use it (that’d be me).
3. The IP came with all sorts of fun add-ons -from a measuring cup for rice, to the yogurt/canning insert, and a compact 20 page users guide (yes, it’s that easy).
With a quick wash of the removable cooking pot, and the lid, the Instant Pot was ready to use!
The first thing I made in it was beans and rice. And I LOVED the ease of using one pot! I cut up raw bacon (use scissors on multiple raw slices – SO much easier than cooking slices and then crumbling!!!), then added green onions, onions, and celery on top, and hit the saute button! The fat from the bacon was enough to fry the veggies in, and when they were done, I simply added the dried beans, chicken stock, ham bone, and seasonings in on top of the bacon – no frying pan to wash!
I don’t cook the rice and beans on the pressure cooker settings, but rather with the slow cooker button. Occasionally I will open the pot to stir the beans and break up the ham, but I’m pretty sure that is optional as I’ve yet to have any issues with foods sticking to the bottom of the pot.
I did start beans and rice late one of the times that I made it, and was worried that the beans would not be soft enough – I put it on pressure cook for 10 minutes, and they were fabulous.
You can even hard boil eggs in the Instant Pot. That is actually one of my favorite uses for it!!! I can hard-boil over 3 dozen at a time; in a shorter time than on the stovetop, it doesn’t use propane, and they peel like a dream! I cook them with one cup water, on low pressure for 4 minutes, then either release the steam after 5 min., or just let it pressurize on it’s own (which is what usually happens around here because I forget about them!).
I’m pretty taken with this cooker! I use it at least 4 times a week; last night I pressure cooked pork loins for King Ranch (pork instead of chicken), tonight was perfect jasmine beef rice for stirfry. We also use it to heat and boil water (saute setting), and use it as a sauce pan, especially when it is hot out as it doesn’t throw off as much heat as the stovetop. The Instant Pot is energy efficient, easy to clean, and so handy since I can turn it on and go about whatever our plans were for that day.
While I know that I would have liked it in the house, in the rv it’s indispensable! Because it is energy efficient and uses electric, I’m saving on propane. And because it is taller than wider, it takes up less space in the cupboard than my crock pot did. Since the interior cooking pot is removable, it is easy to clean (and I haven’t had anything burn/stick!).
I love the versatility of the Instant Pot, and am finding more and more ways to use the it! You can even purchase a second stainless steel interior pot to make multiple items for one meal; cook whichever dish takes the longest, then remove the first pot of food, put in the second, and cook. The IP cooks so quickly that your first dish will still be hot.
There are actually several different models of Instant Pot available. I have the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Cooker, which is the 6 quart, 3rd generation model. There is also a 5 quart model, as well as a new bluetooth enabled one! I’m not techy enough to want to even attempt it, but apparently you can program the cooker to do different modes in sucsession for more complicated dishes.
You can also purchase a replacement pot if you are interested in being able to do 2 different dishes in it for one meal. We have a second insert, and love being able to cook the main dish/meat in one pot, then having a second dish (like rice) ready to go in the second insert. When the first is done cooking, then I quick release it and take that pot out; put the second one in (whichever dish cooks faster), and cook that second dish. The first is still hot by the time the second is done, and I set both on the counter using expandable trivets (you can find my post about some of the best rv kitchen tools here).
If you’d like to check out the different Instant Pots that are available, you can find them on Amazon here (which is a great place to read reviews and find out specs, like measurements and weights, of just about anything!). I love the 6 quart, 3rd generation pot that I have, and it has made cooking in the RV so much easier and less stressful! It’s like discovering that I love to cook, all over again!