The Instant Pot is all the rage. Chances are, if you have one, you love it. Once you try freezer meals for the Instant Pot, that love affair will be taken to a whole new level!
Easy meets fast. They were a pair meant to be together. This easy guide to Instant Pot freezer meals will tell you everything you need to know to get started.
The Easy Guide to Instant Pot Freezer Meals:
You will need two things in order to get started. You will need an Instant Pot and freezer meals. The Instant Pot should be chosen based on your needs. We have a large family (7 kids including some hungry teenage boys!), so I went with an 8 quart Instant Pot.
If you’re new to making freezer meals, you can find all the basics in this Freezer Meals 101 guide. (click that link to read)
The benefits to making the meals ahead of time to later be cooked quickly in the Instant Pot:
- shop less often (saves time)
- buy in bulk (saves money)
- never have to decide what to make for supper (saves sanity)
- no prep on the day of cooking (saves time)
- never have to run to the store for missing ingredients (saves time and money)
The first step will be grocery shopping. Whenever you make many freezer meals at once, it always saves time to prep your ingredients before you start assembling. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to assemble the meals.
The Shape Dilemma:
One of the nicest things about the Instant Pot is that you can cook from frozen. This is particularly good for those of us who sometimes forget to take out a freezer meal to thaw in the morning or the night before. I freeze most of my freezer meals in large resealable bags.
If they are frozen solid, their rectangular shape doesn’t lend itself well to being put into the round Instant Pot. This poses quite a conundrum.
If you want to place the meal into the Instant Pot completely frozen, the best trick I’ve heard is to make the freezer meals in empty ice cream pails or similar sized round plastic containers. That way, they can fit directly into the Instant Pot, no thawing needed.
The downside to freezing the meals in pails is that they take up a lot more space in the freezer. I like that resealable freezer bags can be stored flat. That way, I can fit several months worth of meals in the freezer.
There’s an easy fix to the space dilemma though. Just place the freezer bag in lukewarm water for a few minutes to thaw it enough to get the contents into the Instant Pot.
What Foods Freeze Well?
With freezer cooking, it’s important to know what freezes and what doesn’t. Read a full list here of what foods freeze well and which don’t as well on tips on how best to freeze them.
I’ve created a cheatsheet for you to print out as an easy reference to remember what freezes well.
Freezer burn is the enemy of freezer meals. The good news is, you can prevent freezer burn by taking all the excess air out of the freezer bags before sealing. Label your bags with the date so that you can track which ones to eat first.
Filling the Instant Pot:
Only fill your Instant Pot 2/3 of the way full. For recipes that will expand, such as those that contain beans or rice, fill it no more than 1/2 full.
I have made the mistake of overfilling and then out of the pressure nozzle came a FOUNTAIN of liquid. It covered my counter, my floor, my cupboards. Some of it even got on the ceiling. You had better believe that I never made that mistake again!
Adjusting Cook Times:
If you are cooking your meat from frozen, you will need to add some time to the recipe instructions. It will take longer to come to pressure from frozen.
If you are adding the whole freezer meal in completely frozen, then you will either need to add a bit of water or turn on the saute setting and allow to cook for 5 minutes before sealing and cooking. This is to create some liquid.
A pressure cooker needs liquid in order to do what it needs to do. Use your judgment about which recipes to add water to as it could affect the final meal. A soup for example would be fine to add a bit of water to. Recipes that are not intended to be watery wouldn’t fare as well. For those, use the saute idea.
Supplies Needed for Instant Pot Freezer Meals:
You will of course need to have an Instant Pot. You will also need good quality resealable freezer bags or empty ice cream pails, and permanent markers or printable labels for labelling the meals. I use Avery 5163 labels.
I strongly suggest that you also invest in an electric can opener. I wish I had gotten mine sooner. When you are opening dozens of cans in a day, it wears on your wrists and thumbs. It also eats up precious time.
Converting Slow Cooker Recipes to Instant Pot Recipes:
Many of our favourite recipes are freezer to crock pot recipes. If you want to use one of those recipes in the Instant Pot, you can, but you will have to adjust the times significantly.
Things cook much quicker with pressure cooking. In a slow cooker recipe that calls for 8 hours of cook time on low (4 hours on high), the cook time in the Instant Pot in the sealed setting will be 25-30 minutes. You will of course need to allow extra minutes for the pressure to release.
Instant Pots need liquid to cook things properly, so if your original recipe doesn’t have at least one cup of liquid (this can be broth, sauce, water, etc.), you’ll have to add some.
Don’t add freezer to slow cooker recipes that have milk or dairy in them (condensed or evaporated milk is ok). You can add the milk or dairy in at the end, but because of the high pressure, you don’t want to include them for the full cook time.
One last note about this: Instant Pots can also function as a slow cooker, so if you only have an Instant Pot, it’s easy to use your crock pot recipes in there using that feature.
Our Favourite Freezer to Instant Pot Recipes:
Find freezer to Instant Pot recipes, shopping lists, prep lists, and printable labels in our Instant Pot Freezer Meal Menu Plan.