How to Use the Instant Pot if You Hate Recipes


Folks, I have a confession to make. I hate recipes.

I mean, I see their utility, and I have even used them on occasion. But in general, if it requires a recipe, you can pretty much be assured that I will never cook said item.

I’m always amused when I go to a friend’s house and eat something delicious they make and then they proceed to tell me the recipe or offer to send me the recipe. I always tell them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

When I tell you I love what you made, that is not an invitation for you to give me the recipe. That is an invitation for you to make more of this awesome dish and bring it to my house at a later date.

Here’s why I hate recipes: it usually requires me to go out of my way to buy something that I do not have in my household. And if that is the case, whatever I buy is not something I use daily. And because of that, I will buy an item and then HAVE IT FOREVER UNTIL IT ROTS IN MY FRIDGE OR GOES STALE IN MY PANTRY.

Because I will likely never use it again.

Also? Recipes totally stress me out. All this reading and buying and prepping and following directions.

Have you ever tried doing any of those things – let alone ALL of those things – while having four small human beings demand your attention as soon as you might be doing something other than nothing?

And thus, though I bought into the hype about the Instant Pot (affiliate link) last summer on Prime Day, I knew that even though I purchased the technological and culinary wonder that I would never use it.

Yes, I know. My Rich Girl Syndrome is rearing its ugly head again. After all. Who buys an expensive appliance fully knowing they will never use it?

A person who has FOMO and discretionary income. That’s who.

Anyhow, I know the Instant Pot is super easy, blah blah blah and whatever but my main hurdle to actually using it was this: everything seemed to require a recipe. And all the recipes were for white people food.

Look, I love white people food as much as the next person but that is not what my brain says is real food for families. That is not what I grew up with, and though it is perfectly legitimate food (and OMG, if you bring it to my house, I will love you forever and eat it and compliment you and perhaps even write a blog post dedicated to your awesomeness), I will not make that food on the regular.

As a result, my poor Instant Pot languished on top of my laundry machine from July to December. That is, until my friend, Char Siu Bao, came over and told me I should buy an Instant Pot and I informed him that I own one that was still new in the box.

He made me dinner and told me lots of awesome delicious things I could make with the Instant Pot as I laughed at him because I would never make those awesome delicious things. But then Char Siu Bao said I could also just make soups.

I can make soups.

I make awesome soups.

And so, after five months of putting Baby in the corner, I started using my Instant Pot once a week, then twice a week, then almost every day (and sometimes twice a day).

And here’s how: I use a template.

Like my previous posts on How to Make an Awesome Salad and How to Make an Awesome Sandwich, I now add to this series with my How to Make an Awesome Instant Pot Soup/Stew.

Awesome Instant Pot Soup/Stew Template

1) Vegetable
2) Protein
3) Carbohydrate
4) Liquid
5) Season to taste
6) Hit the button and walk away

Since there are so few items, I want to say you really need all of them in order to make a well-balanced soup/stew. However, I think you can get away with fewer of the categories if say, you have two proteins or two vegetables and then skimp on carbohydrates.

Whatever.

Anyhow, to make it easy for you, here are some ideas for each category.

1) Vegetable – This really is easy. Any vegetable will do. I have used frozen vegetables, broccoli, diced napa cabbage, diced celery, carrots, daikon, etc.

In general, I go for veggies that will cook to clear (to better disguise the fact that they exist so that my children will eat them) as well soak up into whatever flavor the soup has (again, to disguise their existence). I also dice into smaller chunks because (you guessed it) it makes them more palatable to my ungrateful children.

2) Protein – Any meat, beans, or tofu.

3) Carbohydrate – Dried pasta (I usually add them into the IP with the rest of the ingredients), rice (usually made in the rice cooker), potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, etc.

4) Liquid – Chicken/vegetable/beef stock/broth, water, coconut milk, etc.

5) Season to taste – I usually use salt, garlic powder, white pepper, garlic, and ginger. Sometimes, I also add soup base (Memmi soup base), soy sauce, or chili powder.

6) Hit the button and walk away. 

No seriously. That’s it. If I have raw meat, I hit the “Meat” button. If I have unsoaked dry beans, I hit the “Beans” button. Otherwise, I hit the “Soup” button. Or sometimes, I hit “Manual” and add whatever time I want.

Then I walk away until it beeps at me to tell me it’s done cooking.

See? Isn’t that not intimidating at all? You likely have all or most of these items in your fridge/pantry already! You can now commence instapotting.

Next week, a post on how I use “hacks” to make my Instant Pot experience even easier. In the meantime, are you a template/formula type of cook or a recipe follower? Let me know in the comments.

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