7 Meal Instant Pot Challenge

I was so incredibly happy to have gotten an Instant Pot for Christmas, I talked about my introduction into the Instant Pot community in a recent post. You can read it here. While I was so excited to jump into making elaborate meals, I did start off slow to get an understanding and gain confidence. You see, I can get easily discouraged, if I were to completely fail at cooking a meal in the Instant Pot, I might put it towards the back of the cabinet.  What I didn’t expect was how incredibly easy it was going to be–YAY! So I decided to challenge myself to using the Instant Pot for seven meals. I originally called it a seven day challenge but when leftovers came into play, being frugal I couldn’t let them go to waste. So I think it is better to call this the seven meal challenge.

Planning The Meals

I will be honest, meal planning is not my strength. I absolutely detest sitting down and making a meal plan, I developed the worst writers block! I have tried so many strategies and techniques, I am hopeful that I have finally found a method that will make this easier for me, but I will share that in a different post. Since the Instant Pot has sauté, stew, pressure cooker, and slow cooker functions; it was rather easy to find a variety of meal ideas. Some of my meal ideas came from Pinterest and others where just ordinary meals that I don’t need a recipe for to cook. So I will share with you my seven meals and share the links to the recipe if I used one 🙂 You can also check out my board on Pinterest for some other ideas.

  1. Pineapple/Mango Pork Stir Fry
  2. Macaroni and Cheese
  3. Sloppy Joes
  4. Chicken Marsala
  5. Chicken Lo Mein
  6. Jambalaya
  7. Hamburger Stroganoff

Pineapple/Mango Pork Stir Fry–This is my own recipe, I made it one night on a whim for my kids when I was making kabobs for my me and my husband. My son loved it so much it has become a regular meal for us–and it’s so simple to make. First, I dice up  some pork, an onion, two mangos, and a pineapple (you can use canned pineapple too!) Add the pork and an onion to a frying pan  with some olive oil, I cook it until the pork is almost done. Next I add in the mangos and pineapple, be sure your heat is not up to high because it will dry out the fruit, if you used canned pineapple you can add some of the juice to keep it from drying out. I then add a stir fry sauce–sometimes I will buy it other times I make it (I have no exact recipe for this, I use soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, chicken stock and garlic powder–I just taste it to make sure its good. Be easy on the soy sauce, too much and it will just be a salty mess). I let this all simmer until it all nice and warm, I serve it over rice. It would probably be good with some julienned carrots cooked in at the beginning too! I will have to try that next time.

Macaroni and Cheese–This is a meal I struggle with making homemade, I never feel like the cheese sauce has a strong enough cheese flavor. I think that can be changed with the right cheese combination, that being said the cheese used in this recipe is Gouda. While I was cutting up the cheese for the meal, my son could not get enough of it an ate a fair share of what I had bought! I still think I have to tweak the cheese and maybe add another type to enhance the flavor but this was a hit with my family. The best part, it was all made in one pot–noodle and all!! The recipe can be found here on Slap Dash Mom.

Sloppy Joes–Okay, I know what your thinking!! Sloppy Joes, come on that doesn’t need to be in an Instant Pot. Well, it depends on your lifestyle. You see, I am fairly busy with a toddler, homeschooling a 7 year old, homemaking and homesteading and this works for me. First off, you can fry the hamburger in the pot. Next, I put in the sloppy Joe mix, put the cover on and set the meat timer to 7 minutes. Now, I can walk away and tend to other things, I don’t have to worry about stirring the mixture or it bubbling over. Not to mention once it finishes it 7 minute cycle, it goes into a warming cycle. So it will stay warm until I am ready to serve it to my family.

Chicken Marsala–This was a first for my family. I know it’s awful, but I have never made this meal. You see for a long time I had an aversion to mushrooms! I could not stand the texture–I think I was exposed to canned mushrooms which were just slimy and gross. However, I began to buy portobello mushrooms, WOW what a difference–I am a fan!! I felt like with the Instant Pot I could go out of my cooking shell and be adventurous. The recipe I found was here on Confessions of a Fit Foodie and it was very easy to follow and make.  I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs in my meal (in my opinion they have the most flavor). I think next time I would like to figure out how to adjust the recipe to make more of the marsala sauce because OH MY GOODNESS!! I could have just eaten that by the spoonful (I only took a few extra for me 🙂 ). I served mine with a side of asparagus, I felt like a superstar cook!

Chicken Lo Mein–I love Lo Mein, so I was very excited to be able to make at home! I was even more excited that it did not seem overly complicated to make (I am a pretty simple cook).  So I decided to use chicken thighs as the meat because I had purchased a family pack but next time I want to use shrimp. Anyways, I was getting everything ready and I realized that I did not have any sesame oil!! WAHHH!! If you have never had sesame oil, it is what make the dish taste authentic. So I had to use what I had (olive oil) and I decided to make a stir fry sauce. This was another find from Slap Dash Mom. I can’t wait to try this recipe again with all the correct ingredients. However, it was still well received by my family.

Jambalaya– I love spicy food, but I have to tone it down for my family. I love the combination of andouille sausage and shrimp, but this would be the first time I have made this meal for my family.  I skipped the cajun seasoning and red pepper in the meal because I have two young children eating this meal, but I did put hot sauce on my own helping. I was pleasantly surprised with my children, they both ate it but each of preferred a different meat; Anna ate the shrimp and Eli ate the sausage. The recipe comes from Paint The Kitchen Red.

Hamburger Stroganoff–This is one of my and my husbands favorite foods. I have tried to make it from scratch before and it was just so bland. So I typically make it from a box but it has not been well liked by my children. So I knew I would be taking a risk with this one but it was so simple to make, I thought well it’s worth a shot. Again, the beauty of this recipe is everything is made in the Instant Pot–so you only dirty one dish!! As I dished the meal out to my family, I held my breath as my kids began to eat. I breathed a sigh of relief as they both cleaned their plates and asked for more!! Yay!! This family winner comes from Julie’s Eats and Treats.

The Final Verdict

So every meal I made was well received by my family and will become regular meals. I will need to make the Lo Mein with the correct ingredients and I hope to enhance the Mac and Cheese but overall I was very impressed with the food made in the Instant Pot.

Do you cook with the Instant Pot? What are your family favorite meals? Check out our Facebook page for pictures of the finished meals and more Instant Pot meals! 

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