How to Make Instant Pot Meal Prep Freezer Packs for Easy Weeknight Meals
If you enjoy using your Instant Pot multicooker and have a knack for planning and organization, you'll LOVE how Instant Pot meal prep freezer packs make cooking faster and easier. We'll share top tips for making meal prep freezer packs along with top recipes to try along the way.
Why Meal Prep Freezer Packs?
Meal prep freezer packs streamline cooking. Here's how it works: You prep several elements of a homemade meal ahead of time, then freeze those ingredients in zip-top bag or plastic containers. Then, when you're ready to get dinner together, all you have to do is grab those ingredients and enjoy the fact that you're already several steps ahead on that night's meal.
Combine freezer packs with the pressure cooker setting on your Instant Pot, and things get even easier. With the right recipe and a little effort up front, you can stock up on meals that can go directly from your freezer to your Instant Pot without defrosting them first. How? The pressure cooker setting on your Instant Pot is like cooking on turbo speed. You can defrost and cook your meals quickly. Quicker than say, a slow cooker, which, as its name suggests, cooks things slowly. A slow cooker works just fine when you want to simmer a pot roast all day long while you're at work—but going from freezer to slow cooker can be a food-safety hazard.
5 Top Tips for Instant Pot Meal Prep Freezer Packs
Ready to start cooking? Read on for our 5 best tips for making meal prep freezer packs for your favorite Instant Pot pressure cooker recipes.
1. Pick recipes that freeze well.
In general, you'll want to stay away from cream-based recipes (unless you plan to add the cream during the final stages of cooking), or those that include pasta or rice. When you freeze pasta or rice, it often changes the texture, which, coupled with the additional cooking time you'll need to add to compensate for starting from frozen, can turn rice or pasta to mush.
Recipes like this simple Instant Pot Carne Adovado are perfect for meal prep freezer packs. The meat is cut into small pieces so it's easy to freeze, cooks evenly, and is meltingly tender and full of flavor when it's ready to hit your dinner plate.
To make meal prep freezer packs for this recipe, prep the chile sauce, cube and brown the pork, then combine and freeze.
2. Double down.
Meal prep freezer packs are all about convenience, so if you have room in your freezer, you might as well double your recipe to slash your efforts in half. Freeze portions for the two (or more!) meals separately.
And if you're cooking for two (or one), try taking a recipe that serves 8—such as this sweet and savory Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken—and freezing it in four portions instead of two. That way you'll always have an prepped chicken teriyaki freezer pack on hand to dress up with a side of rice, pasta, veggies, or anything else you can dream up.
To make meal prep freezer packs for this recipe, prep the sauce, pour over the chicken, and freeze.
3. Prioritize "dump" recipes.
If you're an Instant Pot devotee, you're probably already familiar with "dump" recipes—those where you simply throw everything in the pot, close the lid, and start cooking. The same concept applies to the easiest meal prep freezer pack recipes with ingredients that can be thrown together and frozen in the same bag.
This Carnitas – Pressure Cooker recipe is one of the latter, making it the easiest (and quickest) way to go from meal prep freezer pack to Instant Pot.
4. Organize now, thank yourself later.
There are a few tricks to freezing and storing your meal prep freezer packs that will make your life a lot easier when it comes time to cook. First, choose 1-2 quart containers over plastic bags for freezing. The shape is easier to fit into your insert.
Second, label, label, label! Put the recipe name, date, and cooking time right on the container so you don't have to search for instructions when it's time to cook.
If your recipe has dry ingredients, like the beans in this Instant Pot Double Bean and Ham Soup, leave them out of the freezer, but mark down how many cups you'll need to add on the label of your meal prep freezer pack so you don't have to look it up when it's time to dump your ingredients in your Instant Pot.
5. Allow for extra cooking time.
If you're starting with frozen ingredients, plan on adding up to 50 percent more cooking time than the recipe states. That's because your Instant Pot may take more time to come up to pressure when the ingredients have to defrost first, and then cook.
This super-simple four-ingredient Instant Pot Salsa Chicken already calls for frozen chicken breasts and the sauce it cooks takes no prep at all.