my happy kitchen life (i still love my instant pot -- but it is not a good slow-cooker)

Don't get rid of your slow-cooker!
Since moving to a remote region with very limited food choices, I've upped my cook-ahead game to levels I never thought possible. I'm really enjoying it. Here's my routine.

My happy kitchen life

1. I order a box from truLOCAL -- locally sourced, humanely raised, healthy meat and seafood. Vast selection, super high quality food, brilliant customer service. They. Are. Awesome.

2. I spend a half-day cooking -- skillet, Instapot (yes, I know, I just like calling it that), and oven. I usually make four dishes, sometimes five, each good for 3 or 4 dinners. 

3. I put all the food into my ever-growing collection of Pyrex, and pop it all in the freezer. 

4. One box from truLOCAL gives me at least two, sometimes three, cooking sessions of this size. 

This gives us dinner for the four nights that my partner works on his day-job, and we don't eat dinner together. On the other three days, Allan makes dinner one night, and two nights we go out or get takeout. 

In short, Instapot + truLOCAL + Pyrex = my happy kitchen life.

In the summer, I'll order an additional truLOCAL box, usually the small size, just for grilling. Steak, burgers, salmon, bone-in chicken breasts, beef sausages -- anything and everything for the grill.

[In case you don't know me, this is not stealth marketing and I'm not using affiliate links. truLOCAL subscribers can earn points for referrals, but you'd need my name and code for that, and I'm not offering it in this post.]

The Instant Pot is a crappy slow-cooker

There's only one aspect of the Instapot that I don't like: it is not a good slow-cooker. It simply does not get hot enough. 

Several online sources confirm this observation, such as here, here, here, and here.

Some folks mention a possible workaround of adjusting the temperature of the slow-cook setting. On the model I have, the Ultra, you can adjust the temperature slightly, but it makes no appreciable difference. No matter how many hours the food cooks, it never gets hot enough to truly break down ingredients and blend flavours.

When I bought my Instapot, I gave away my slow-cooker. Now I'm buying a new one. 

What I'm cooking

Here's what I've been making using my truLOCAL box. All are cooked in the Instapot unless otherwise noted. All are cooked ahead and frozen, unless noted "day-of".

-- chicken and rice, using boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Why did I ever cook chicken breasts? Thighs are so much better.)

-- turkey sausage and bean stew, with canned tomatoes, white beans, and black beans

-- turkey sausage, white bean, and kale stew

-- linguini with meat sauce, using ground bison (incredibly quick and easy)

-- "mexican" style penne, using ground bison, salsa, black beans, and corn (another super easy one -- I will usually make one of these very fast and easy pasta dishes per cooking session)

-- cheeseburger casserole, quick and easy pasta #3

-- pork tenderloin in honey-garlic; skillet and oven

-- faux fried rice, made with brown rice, ground turkey, snow peas, and shredded carrots; skillet; rice in instant pot, then added to skillet

-- beef stir fry, similar to above but with sliced steak

-- meatballs, made with ground bison

-- old-fashioned pot roast with root vegetables

-- duck legs, this recipe cooked ahead, then served with basmati rice made day-of

-- pork chops, this recipe cooked ahead, then served with little potatoes boiled or roasted, made day-of

-- split pea soup with bacon (incredible bacon from truLOCAL!)

-- lentil soup with ham

-- minestrone soup with turkey sausage

-- beef, barley, mushroom casserole

-- roast beef, served with roast potatoes made day-of

-- chicken noodle soup, noodles cooked separately in advance, then added when re-heating

-- wild salmon fillets in butter and garlic; skillet, day-of

-- wild-caught scallops in butter and garlic; skillet, day-of

-- chicken broth -- I make this for myself, not for cooking, but for a warm, caffeine-free hot drink

... and probably several more that I've tried once and forgotten. 


Amy said...

Our weekly menu is so different! We have chicken ordinarily once a week--usually grilled chicken breasts, pasta with tomato-turkey sauce usually once a week, fish once a week (if we get to the fish store), eggs, veggie burgers one night, sushi or pizza that we bring in once a week, and we go out the other night. Sometimes we just have salad and tuna fish or bagels and lox. So at most we have meat twice a week and always poultry. I stopped eating all beef, pork, and lamb products so long ago (1971) that I can't even remember what it was like.

We have a Ninja Foodi air fryer/grill that we love, but no slow cooker or instapot. I don't think that what we like to eat is stuff that is good to make in those appliances. Mostly I cook on the stove or in the Ninja. When the weather is warm, I grill outside instead of on the Ninja. The only thing I make enough to freeze is the turkey tomato sauce. But I am retired so have more time to shop and cook dinner day by day.

And now it's time to go make dinner! Chicken with tomatoes tonight--in the oven. My oven will be so happy that it's getting some use.

laura k said...

When I can source healthy/humanely raised meat, I can be my true omnivore self.

I didn't share our weekly menu -- since this was about cooking.

The dishes listed above are almost entirely for Allan on the nights he works. I almost always eat a big salad with a hardboiled egg and cheese tossed in.

Our weekly menu could include salmon or halibut or scallops, grilled cheese, salad with grilled chicken or shrimp thrown in, sushi, Chinese food of some sort, breaded chicken strips, grilled steak or chicken or salmon, burgers, nachos.

Amy said...

Ah, I was imagining you guys eating meat every night! Thanks for the clarification.