You are finally on your way home from work or an after-school activity, when the inevitable question arises, “What’s for dinner?” The solution to your mealtime dilemma may be no further away than the slow cooker or instant pot on your kitchen counter. These small, but mighty appliances can be great resources that allow you to come back at the end of the day to a nice, home-cooked meal.
Trying to decide whether a slow cooker or instant pot is right for you? The anatomy of both appliances are pretty similar. Both are available in a variety of sizes and have similar, easy-to-use control panels. A slow cooker might be a better choice if you don’t have time to prepare everything that goes into your meal at one time, so you need to prepare it in advance and let it cook all day. Instant pots, on the other hand, are electric pressure cookers. They take much less time than a slow cooker, so you can typically throw a meal together right before dinner if you have that kind of time in your day.
While both of these versatile kitchen tools are time-savers, they still require some time planning ahead. After picking your recipe, chop vegetables and trim meats in advance whenever you have extra time. Uniform pieces of produce and meats provide even cooking. You could even store prepped ingredients in airtight containers or plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to three days for easy access and use.
Instead of serving the same recipe two nights in a row, reinvent last night’s dinner into something new. If you make a pot roast with tender carrots, celery, and potatoes one day, serve the leftovers in a soup or as a filling for sandwiches another day. If your recipe just makes too much, try freezing leftover meals in sealed containers or plastic bags to eat later. Make sure to correctly label and date the meal so it will be ready to thaw and cook when you need it.
Get creative with your slow cooker or instant pot with fresh, frozen, or canned produce! While vegetables are a given, don’t forget about fruits too! From appetizers, to side dishes, or even desserts, produce can shine in delicious and satisfying meals made with these kitchen gadgets. And the best part? It’s all made with little time or effort on your end!