Because it's time to break up with your sad desk lunch habit for good.

By Betty Gold
Updated December 18, 2020
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The Instant Pot can breathe new life into your ability to get a fuss-free dinner on the table in practically no time. We've ranted and raved about how much we love it for making set-it-and-forget-it style dishes like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and all our favorite anti-inflammatory recipes. But let's not limit it to just being our go-to for making one-pot soups, stews, and sides—the device can do so much more.

Next time you're powering through a Sunday meal prep session, enlist your multi-cooker for help making these delicious dish components. They're super-versatile, so you can mix and match ingredients as you prep lunches and dinners throughout the week: salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, grain bowls, and so on.

Best part about the Instant Pot is that cooking is hands-free, which means you can cook a week's worth of meals and spend some quality time with your couch and a glass of wine simultaneously. Now that we're motivated, here are some ways you can use your Instant Pot to meal prep.

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creamy chicken and mushroom pasta
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Cooking a Whole Chicken

Rotisserie chicken is the darling of many meal prep recipes, but I'm sure we can all agree that store-bought versions can be dried out. If you cook a chicken in your Instant Pot, you'll find the results are melt-in-your-mouth tender. It won't have the same crispy exterior as your oven-baked breasts or drumsticks, but for a dish like chicken curry, soup, or this creamy chicken and mushroom pasta, you won't miss that one bit.

Soba With Charred Scallions and Soft-Cooked Eggs
Credit: Greg DuPree

Hard-Boiling Eggs

Certainly one of the most versatile (and finicky) foods, hard-boiled eggs are built for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in between. The Instant Pot does an expert job at cooking shelled eggs, plus it can make a large batch of them at once.

Crunchy Broccolini With Lemon and Pecans
Credit: Victor Protasio

Steaming Veggies

There's no right or wrong answer to what vegetables want to get steamy in your Instant Pot. From carrots to cauliflower to kabocha squash, the steam setting is the way to go. You can toss in a ton at once (as long as they take about the same amount of time to cook) or steam in sessions. Just make sure not to cook veggies too long and always use the Quick Release valve to avoid a mushy mess.

Bean, Spinach, and Quinoa Burritos
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Hydrating Every Type of Bean

This is one of our favorite lesser-known uses for the Instant Pot. Use the "Bean/Chili" function to cook black beans for burritos, cannellini beans for minestrone soup, and chickpeas for homemade hummus or Greek salad.

Roasted Salmon with Crispy Broccoli and Quinoa
Credit: Johnny Miller

Cooking Quinoa (and Every Other Grain)

The Instant Pot will turn out super-fluffy quinoa. We recommend rinsing first, then pressure-cooking on High for five minutes before releasing with the Quick Release valve. Serve in grain bowls, mix into the base for homemade veggie burgers, or alongside salmon. In fact, we recommend outsourcing all grains to the IP: you can cook white or brown rice, steel-cut oats, wheat berries, and more in your multi-cooker.

How to Make Homemade Yogurt
Credit: Greg DuPree

Making Yogurt

This one may seem obvious because it's a pre-programmed setting on all Instant Pot models (save for the Lux), but have you ever thought of the money-saving potential of this little button? A tub of Greek yogurt can cost upwards of $10, and considering how easy it is to DIY, adding breakfast to your meal prep to-do list could save you major bucks at the grocery store.