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Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021

Making the most out of your Instant Pot

Freshman Hillary Kwarteng opens an Instant Pot.
Freshman Hillary Kwarteng opens an Instant Pot.

Like many college students, my food budget is somewhat limited. So when Instant Pots first started getting popular, I was skeptical. They cost between $50 and $100, and I couldn’t see them being very useful. I assumed that it would just take up the already limited space in my dorm.

However, after seeing hundreds of Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest and reading articles about how useful they were for busy workers and college students, I finally caved and got one last year. Now, after owning my Instant Pot for over a year, I can’t believe I ever thought it would be useless.

The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, but it’s also so much more than that. It can pressure cook, slow cook and saute foods. It works on a timer system, which means to pressure cook or slow cook your food, you just have to set the amount of time and the level of pressure you want to cook it at.

Instant Pots are great for any college student because all you need to do is find a recipe and throw in the ingredients, and you’ll have a delicious, healthy meal in an hour or less. You can also set the Instant Pot to stay warm after it finishes cooking your dish, which means you can put in the ingredients in the morning and come home to a tasty meal after a long day of classes.

While an Instant Pot is not cheap, I believe it makes up for its cost by saving money in the long run. For example, I usually use my Instant Pot to meal prep enough food to eat for the whole week. This helps me cut down on my food costs because I can buy ingredients in bulk for a lower price. It also keeps me from being tempted to eat out because I know I already have food waiting for me in my dorm.

To show how versatile and useful an Instant Pot is for college students, I decided to try three Instant Pot recipes.

Cauliflower Tikka Masala

For my first recipe, I wanted a safe option, so I decided to try a meal-prepping recipe. I followed the instructions for an Instant Pot cauliflower tikka masala recipe, heading to class with the confidence that a delicious meal would be waiting for me when I got back.

The recipe didn’t quite turn out according to plan. First, my Instant Pot was flashing the “BURN” message. Apparently the recipe didn’t have enough liquid in it, so my Instant Pot had shut down to prevent itself from overheating.

I felt a little better when I released the steam valve on my Instant Pot and a mouth-watering combination of spices filled my room. How could anything that smelled that delicious taste bad? After tasting a bowl of the tikka masala, I was delighted with the results. The recipe had made me a week’s worth of tasty dinners.

Soy Yogurt

I knew from the “Yogurt” button on my Instant Pot that it was capable of making yogurt, but I didn’t understand how.

After doing a bit of research, I found a recipe with comprehensive instructions on how to make Instant Pot soy yogurt. As the recipe instructed, I whisked together plain soy milk and a small amount of store-bought soy yogurt and set my pot to cook for 12 hours.

The next morning, I opened my pot unsure of what to expect. To my surprise, there was a big bowl of yogurt waiting in my Instant Pot. While it wasn’t as thick as store-bought yogurt and needed to be sweetened before I could eat it, it was much cheaper than the store-bought kind and made enough for me to eat all week. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the yogurt had turned out.

Brownies

For my final recipe, I decided to go completely outside my comfort zone and try an Instant Pot baked good. The concept of cooking cakes and other baked goods in an Instant Pot had always confused me. Why use an Instant Pot when it’s just as easy to bake dishes in an oven?

However, after seeing so many Instant Pot dessert recipes around the Internet, I wanted to see if I was missing out. Clearly other people liked baking in an Instant Pot, so I knew there must be some appeal.

Brownie recipe in hand, I mixed together the ingredients and poured them into a cake pan. Next, I covered the pan with foil and placed it on a trivet above some water in my Instant Pot. I didn’t have very high hopes for my pressure cooked brownies, but I was again pleasantly surprised by the results. As the recipe had promised, the brownies were moist and fudgy.

While I won’t be completely replacing all my appliances with my Instant Pot, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried some fun new recipes this week. If you’re going to be making some or all of your own meals as a college student, an Instant Pot is a great way to make endless amounts of cheap and delicious recipes.


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