The Instant Pot is one of the most versatile and most popular kitchen appliances. Technically a multicooker, it can function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and food warmer. Oh, and it sautés, too. Not only does it replace a half dozen other appliances, but it also allows you to cook dishes that normally take hours in a fraction of the time.
Consumers have taken notice of its versatility and efficiency, and its popularity is exploding less than ten years after it first hit the market. The official Instant Pot Facebook page has more than 1.4 million members trading tips and recipes. Different Instant Pot models currently occupy four of the top 10 spots in Amazon’s best-selling kitchen small appliance categories. More than 300,000 Instant Pots were sold on Prime Day alone, making it the top-selling non-Amazon-brand device in the United States and Canada.
While the multicooker is a time-saver for everyone, it’s especially helpful to new parents as it not only makes food quickly but also can whip up baby food and even sterilize equipment. Here are four (of many) ways in which an Instant Pot can help you be a better parent.
It Makes Homemade Baby Food.
Store-bought baby food can contain added sugars and dyes, and they are way more expensive than buying the raw fruits and vegetables that are the only necessary ingredients. Of course, you can make your own baby food without an Instant Pot, but it takes way longer. Instead of roasting sweet potatoes, for instance, parents can steam them in a fraction of the time by simply throwing them in the Instant Pot with some water. Once cooked, all they need to do is mash or whip them up and voila: fresh, inexpensive baby food with minimal ingredients. If you need inspiration, one mom posted a list of her recipes to the Facebook group.
It Makes Yogurt.
Yogurt is a vitamin-rich food that is also a great source of protein, and its live and active cultures make it easy for younger digestive systems to break it down. Newer models of the Instant Pot come with two yogurt settings, boil and normal, that make it easy to make your own.
According to Austin Alvarez, a nutritionist, blogger, and Instant Pot lover, the boil setting brings “whole cow’s milk to the ideal 180º F, denaturing the proteins and enabling the liquid to better coagulate and become solid as it ferments.” The normal setting holds the whole batch at 100º F, the ideal temperature for incubation once you combine your recently boiled milk and starter culture. Eight hours later, you’ve got yogurt that, according to Alvarez, is cheaper and healthier than the store-bought stuff.
It Lets You Make Home-Cooked Meals Quickly.
Busy parents don’t always have time to prepare dinner. This can lead to repetitive menus of quick dishes (not a crowd pleaser) and/or too much takeout (an unhealthy and pricey crowd pleaser). The Instant Pot expands the possibilities for quick weekday dinners. Cooking in the Instant Pot, per Alvarez, “empowers home cooks by saving time and headspace on food prep and actual cooking engagement.” He adds that grains and legumes, in particular, are “insanely easy” to cook in the Instant Pot.
Sterilize Baby Bottles
One of the most annoying but necessary parts of having a newborn is making sure that everything that goes in his or her mouth and/or touches breast milk or formula is sterile. Normally, that means lots of hand-washing and boiling.
With an Instant Pot, all you have to do is throw the equipment in your Instant Pot with some water and press the steam button (or, on newer models, the dedicated sterilize button). The steam is hot enough to kill any bacteria, ensuring that your baby won’t come into contact with any contaminated items. This method is reliable and saves tons of time. You won’t groan quite as loudly when your kid spits her pacifier onto the ground.
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