The Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 multipurpose cooker that has shot to the top of shoppers' lists. It can sauté vegetables in minutes, cook a whole chicken in 20, stew delicious vegan meals, and even make yogurt! After using mine for three years, I know it's a must-have for busy parents, students on a budget, and anyone looking to save time and money in the kitchen. Here’s why:

The One-Pot Miracle

A single gadget that can get dinner done in 30 minutes may sound like magic but, with the Instant Pot, it's pure reality. Because it handily replaces a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and a variety of stovetop pots, you can declutter your kitchen and make space for what matters.

The Instant Pot is neither your grandmother’s slow cooker nor a traditional cooking pot – it’s a “programmable pressure cooker” that can make healthy meals, fast. A chicken or vegan bean stew with vegetables and legumes can be cooked in an Instant Pot in a fraction of the time of conventional cookware. For a rushed parent or a busy student, this beats the cost of take-out and gets the troops fed quickly.

Healthy and Frugal

Cooking on a budget can be a challenge when you’re aiming for healthy and delicious meals. Since the Instant Pot cooks under pressure, home chefs can buy a more affordable or “tougher” cut of meat and tenderize it quickly. Pork shoulder roasts can be turned into pulled pork for tacos and sandwiches, while fancy butter chicken can be prepared on a budget using inexpensive chicken thighs.

For vegetarians and vegans, healthy bean stews and soups are quick to prepare with dry ingredients. While most dry beans can benefit from a soak and rinse, the Instant Pot cooks them in a fraction of the time. Layer some vegetables and eggplant on top at the end for a quick steam, and dinner is delicious and done.

Less Dishes, More Time

The Instant Pot is a single integrated unit, so there’s less mess to clean up. When dinner’s over, the inner stainless steel pot can be removed from the cooker and either placed in your dishwasher for cleanup or stored in your fridge with leftovers. Yes, you should wipe the outer unit to keep it fresh, but since the lid is sealed during the cooking process there won’t be any splatter to scrub from your backsplash.

Meal Prep Perfection

Thanks to my Instant Pot I can turn frozen ingredients into complete meals without the defrosting time or the inconvenience of a microwave. With the power of pressure cooking, the Instant Pot thaws ingredients and frozen meals with only minutes of additional work.

First, set aside an hour each weekend to prepare and freeze the ingredients for the week’s dinners in individual packages. Each night, place your frozen ingredients in the pot, start the machine, and wait for the beep signalling that dinner is done. Easy.

Community is a click away

Finding dinner inspiration or a trusted recipe to try can be a challenge, but thanks to the incredible popularity of the Instant Pot, an entire community of experienced cooks is just a click away!

The Instant Pot website features thousands of recipes, searchable by food type, cuisine, and dietary restrictions. On social media, the Instant Pot Facebook group has over 1.2 million members who swap ideas, recipes, and how-to tips. Because the Instant Pot boasts consistent cooking with a programmable timer, following the steps to any highly-rated recipe is a guaranteed success. Plus, recipes specifically designed for the pot explain cooking modes and often show the right menu buttons to push.

What tips did I miss and what are your top Instant Pot recipes? I can’t wait to hear from you.

Kerry K. Taylor is a consumer expert and creator of Squawkfox.com.

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