University of Idaho - I Banner
A student works at a computer

VandalStar

U of I's web-based retention and advising tool provides an efficient way to guide and support students on their road to graduation. Login to VandalStar.

Simplify Dinnertime: A Guide to Make-Ahead Freezer Meals for Electric Pressure-Cooking (with supplemental PDFs)

Introduction

Do you find yourself scrambling at 4:45 p.m. looking for something to put together for dinner? With a freezer meal plan in place, and your electric pressure cooker at the ready, you can have dinner on the table in no time (Figure 1). Only a lot of organization and planning, however, will allow you to create a simple, magical meal like this. Indeed, cooking many meals in one session and ahead of time is not for the faint of heart. To get you on your way, this publication steers you through the basics of assembly-line pressure cooking and freezing for seven delicious meals.

Make-ahead freezer meals for electric pressure cookers
Figure 1. Make-ahead freezer meals for electric pressure cookers are a simple and time-saving food- preparation method.
Freezer-meal bags with stands
Figure 2. Freezer-meal bags with stands are perfect if you want to lay your freezer meals flat for freezing.

How to Use This Publication

I’ve divided this guide into three sections: The Basics, Managing the Process, and Shopping/Recipes. The first section defines freezer meals and provides some initial advice. The second discusses the equipment and prep work you need to do to succeed (including storage and thawing issues). The third features the complete, freezer-friendly recipes that will simplify your dinner this week. Those who are new to freezer-meal cooking should read the first two sections to get a thorough overview of the entire process; for veterans, skip to the recipes section.

To simplify information, trade names have been used. No endorsement of named products is intended nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned.

The Basics

Freezer Meals

freezer meal is a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack/dessert that is made ahead and frozen for later use. (Figure 2). Sometimes it simply involves doubling a recipe and freezing the extra. Most often though, the term “freezer meal” refers to many meals made or prepped at once, subsequently frozen, and later reheated or cooked.

They are great options for students, parents, and older adults—anyone who is short on time, money, energy, or all three. There are some possible health benefits too. Dinnertime can be less stressful and healthier because you don’t have to worry over what to make at the end of a tiring workday and you determine each meal’s nutritional value by having made it yourself. Finally, there’s the everyday labor savings: by preparing several meals ahead of time, you only have to clean up dirty dishes and utensils once.

Tips for First-Time Freezer-Meal Cooks

  1. Wear comfy clothes and shoes. You are going to be standing up and running around a lot, so make sure you stay comfortable.
  2. Fill your water bottle. This is a marathon not a sprint. Stay hydrated.
  3. Follow directions. All of them! READ. Before you start anything, read all your directions to make sure you don’t miss anything.
  4. Display your recipe cards. Use holders or tape the cards to cabinets or walls so you can easily reference them during the day.
  5. Clean as you go. This sounds simple but it is completely necessary. You will be reusing a lot of your kitchen items, so be sure to clean.
  6. Break the work into two days if you need to. The prepped food will keep just fine.
Electric pressure cooker and freezer bags
Figure 3. The electric pressure cooker and freezer bags are two of the three important types of equipment you need to learn how to use when preparing freezer meals.

Managing the Process

Know Your Equipment

Arming yourself with the right equipment and learning how to use each kind before you ever start your meal prep is absolutely essential (Figure 3). Two of them are appliances—an electric pressure cooker and freezer—while the other is an item—the freezer bag. Although low-tech, the bag is equally important because it holds each meal and/or the prepped ingredients. Here’s the skinny on how to navigate the use of all three.

Electric Pressure Cooker. Although you can make the recipes provided in this publication with a slow cooker, they’re best adapted for use in an electric pressure cooker. Choose a model that allows you to set the pot at high pressure manually.

The Freezer. Because all freezer meals look alike in the freezer, organization is essential! Three ways to manage your freezer’s storage space include the following:

  • Clear out the freezer. In the week(s) leading up to making your freezer meals, open up more storage space by resetting your freezer (hit the reset button) and holding a “clean out and eat up” session with the food it currently contains.
  • Prepare meal/ingredient labels. Print custom labels that include the recipe name, package date, and instructions for thawing and eating. Labeling your meals with a package date is a good freezer management strategy because it identifies which meals to move to the front of the freezer (to use sooner), thus helping to prevent freezer burn from developing. (Click on “Freezer-Meal Labels” for a template you can use.)
    Printable/fillable Freezer-Meal Labels (large version). <PDF
    Printable/fillable Freezer-Meal Labels (small version). <PDF
  • Keep a freezer inventory. This tool lets you know what’s in your freezer without your having to open it. Update it by adding new meals to a running list of all the meals, side dishes, frozen veggies, and ice cream in your freezer, crossing them off when you’ve used them. Click on "Freezer/Dinner Inventory" for a handy printout.
    Printable/fillable Freezer/Dinner Inventory. <PDF
    Printable/fillable Freezer/Dinner Inventory (by category). <PDF
  • Learn your ingredient’s freezability. A related freezer-management strategy involves knowing the freezability of a recipe’s ingredients. Some foods don’t freeze very well, no matter the freezer model. Consult Table 1 to avoid using ingredients that won’t freeze well.
Table 1. Cold food–storage recommendations. Provided by US Health and Human Services, https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts.
Food Type Refrigerator
(40°F or below)
Freezer
(0°F or below)
Salad Egg, chicken, ham, tuna, and macaroni salads 3–4 days Do not freeze well
Hot Dogs Opened package 1 week 1–2 months
Unopened package 2 weeks 1–2 months
Luncheon Meat Opened package or deli-sliced 3–5 days 1–2 months
Unopened package 2 weeks 1–2 months
Bacon and Sausage Bacon 1 week 1 month
Sausage, raw, from chicken, turkey, pork, or beef 1–2 days 1–2 months
Sausage, fully cooked, from chicken, turkey, pork, or beef 1 week 1–2 months
Hamburger and Other Ground Meats Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them 1–2 days 3–4 months
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork Steaks 3–5 days 4–12 months
Chops 3–5 days 4–12 months
Roasts 3–5 days 4–12 months
Ham Fresh, uncured, uncooked 3–5 days 6 months
Fresh, uncured, cooked 3–4 days 3–4 months
Cured, cook-before-eating or uncooked 5–7 days or “use by” date 3–4 months
Fully cooked, vacuum-sealed at plant, unopened “Use by” date 1–2 months
Cooked, store-wrapped, whole 1 week 1–2 months
Cooked, store-wrapped, slices, half, or spiral cut 3–4 days 1–2 months
Country ham, cooked 1 week 1 month
Canned, labeled “Keep Refrigerated,” unopened 6–9 months Do not freeze
Canned, shelf-stable, opened
Note: An unopened, shelf-stable, canned ham can be stored at room temperature for 6–9 months
5–14 days 1–2 months
Prosciutto, Parma or Serrano ham, dry Italian or Spanish type, cut 2–3 months 1 month
Fresh Poultry Chicken or Turkey, whole 1–2 days 1 year
Chicken or Turkey, pieces 1–2 days 9 months
Eggs Raw eggs in shell 3–5 weeks Do not freeze. Beat yolks and whites together, then freeze.
Raw egg whites and yolks
Note: Yolks do not freeze well
2–4 days 12 months
Raw egg accidently frozen in shell Use immediately after thawing Keep frozen, then refrigerate to thaw
Hard-cooked eggs 1 week Do not freeze
Egg substitutes, liquid unopened 1 week Do not freeze
Egg substitutes, liquid opened 3 days Do not freeze
Egg substitutes, frozen, unopened After thawing, 1 week or refer to “use by” date 12 months
Egg substitutes, frozen, open 3–4 days Do not freeze
Casseroles with eggs 3–4 days After baking, 2–3 months
Eggnog, commercial 3–5 days 6 months
Eggnog, homemade 2–4 days Do not freeze
Pies, pumpkin or pecan 3–4 days After baking, 1–2 months
Pies, custard and chiffon 3–4 days Do not freeze
Quiche with filling 3–5 days After baking, 2–3 months
Soups and Stews Vegetables or meat added 3–4 days 2–3 months
Leftovers Cooked meat or poultry 3–4 days 2–6 months
Chicken nuggets or patties 3–4 days 1–3 months
Pizza 3–4 days 1–2 months

Freezer Bags

Freezer-bag etiquette. Since all your meals and prepped ingredients will be stored in your freezer, properly bagging them is crucial. The key is a quality seal, so don’t be afraid to spend more for a quality product—you don’t want them to leak or break at any point in the process. To correctly shape them for freezer storage and/or the meal’s reheating in the cooker, using pressure cooker–shaped freezer containers is a good option. These no-frill, durable plastic containers can be really convenient, particularly if their size closely matches that of your pressure cooker’s inner pot, wherein you’ll eventually be depositing the frozen contents or ingredients of your freezer meal. To obtain the correct size, measure your electric pressure cooker’s inner pot. After you’ve pressure cooked your food, line the inside of the freezer containers with the freezer bags, add the food you’ve pressure cooked and let cool off, and then freeze it in the container until solid; later, pull the frozen-solid freezer bag out of the container and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to finish cooking/reheating the meal.

Tip: round containers are particularly ideal for larger pieces of meat (roasts, whole chickens, etc.) that have a liquid component, since the liquids won’t freeze flat.
Tip: make sure that the bag doesn’t develop folds when it’s freezing because it can make it difficult to remove the frozen meal from the bag later.

Don’t freeze bagged meals by laying them flat. Although freezing your meals by laying them flat in the freezer is typically the recommended way to make freezer meals (it takes up less freezer space), it’s better to shape meals in containers as they freeze, particularly when you intend to finish cooking them in an electric pressure cooker. In the long run, it saves you time by eliminating the need to thaw out a meal before cooking it.

Precooked food. For recipes that involve precooked food, make sure that you cool it first before you store it in the freezer. Why? Warm food inside a plastic bag plus cold air outside it leads to excess moisture. The condensation then freezes into ice crystals. Yuck! It may take extra time to cool the food first, but that is why you plan ahead.

Tip: best container-size estimates for direct freezer-to-cooker plans include the following:

  • 52-ounce container. Holds 2–3 servings. Should fit a 3-quart electric pressure cooker.
  • 72-ounce container. Holds 4–6 servings. Great for a 6-quart electric pressure cooker.
  • 136-ounce container. Holds 9–10 servings. Just right for an 8-quart electric pressure cooker.

Consider using staplers. These tools are a great option when prepping meals that require more than one bag. For instance, if the recipe involves additions, such as grated cheese or dry pasta, prep both a large-sized bag for the main meal and a medium-sized one for the extras and attach the bags together using a stapler.

Consider using an aluminum disposable dish for pot-in-pot cooking. Although bags are the most common storage vessel cooks use to store their freezer meals, this container allows you to pressure cook your meal and store it in the freezer all with the same container. Again, remember to let the meal cool off before storing it in your freezer.

Well-stocked freezer
Figure 4. A well-stocked freezer with meals that have been frozen lying flat, upright, and in shaped containers. Each method determines how a freezer-meal cook answers the question, To thaw or not to thaw?
Tip: A pot-in-pot meal is one that has been cooked in a separate container (like a disposable dish) that fits within a cooker’s inner pot, which rests on steam rack or trivet). Some electric pressure cooker brands include a trivet with purchase and some do not.

To Thaw Or Not To Thaw

Because your freezer will be filling up with prepped meals and ingredients, you need to know how to thaw out meals for pressure cooking. The procedures depend on how you plan to freeze the meal (Figure 4), but in general plan on thawing out your freezer meals within 3–6 months to ensure their freshness.

For meals frozen in a container shape:

  1. Take the bag out of the freezer, release the frozen contents from it, and put it right into your electric pressure cooker.
  2. Allow your cooker extra time when cooking from frozen. You are still going to get dinner on the table in record time, but when you cook food from a frozen state it will take a little bit longer than the regular cook time. Remember, it must thaw and cook the meal all at once.
  3. Consider it will take much longer to come to pressure for the frozen meal than it will for a fresh/thawed version. For example, it may only take 20 minutes to cook fresh, but it might take the frozen version 20 minutes just to come to pressure, while the fresh/thawed version only takes 5 minutes to come to pressure.

For meals frozen flat, add in time to thaw out the meal. The following methods are safe for thawing frozen meals:

  1. Refrigerator thaw. This thawing method takes the longest amount of time, but it is the preferred method for thawing freezer meals for food-safety reasons. It also helps food to maintain its original texture. Place your freezer meal atop a kitchen towel or into a bowl or baking pan to catch any bag leaks or drips from condensation. For a fully cooked freezer meal (meaning a soup, casserole, or skillet dish that has already been cooked before it was frozen) let it thaw for a full 24–48 hours. For meals that have not been cooked prior to your serving day, each pound generally requires up to 24 hours to completely thaw.
  2. Cold-water thaw. If your meal is sealed in an airtight container (freezer bag, sealed plastic container, or mason jar), place the food into a sinkful or bucketful of COLD water to thaw it. Be sure, however, that the food is submerged. Check on the food every 30 minutes to make sure that the water is still cold, because warmer water encourages bacterial growth. If the water temperature warms, drain it and add more cold water (see “A safety note”).

This method works a lot faster than a refrigerator thaw. A pound of meat typically needs about one hour to thaw. This works great for main dishes like marinated meat, sauces, and soups.

A safety note. There are a lot of ways to thaw a meal, but not all of them are safe. The bottom line: bacteria do not grow on frozen food, BUT as the temperature reaches 40°F, bacteria come out of hibernation and can start multiplying again. For foods that can normally be stored at room temperature, such as baked goods (breads, muffins, pastries, etc.) or produce, bacterial development is less of a concern, particularly when considering whether or not to thaw them out on a counter. But for the freezer meal recipes outlined in this publication, do not thaw them out on your counter or run them under hot water. In step with this approach, meat, eggs, dairy, and dishes containing these items (even cooked dishes) should not be left out at room temperature.

Shop for supplies and ingredients
Figure 5. Make sure to plan and set aside time to shop for supplies and ingredients. Courtesy of Bruno Kelzer (Unsplash).

Shopping

Shopping and Prepping

There are two other activities to touch on before you begin to cook the seven electric pressure cooker freezer meals in this publication. The complete menu takes about 2–3 hours to make and freeze (and serves 4–10 people), but only if you shop for and prep the ingredients ahead of time. For your convenience, I’ve included a printable shopping list. But before heading out, there’s just a few more bits of advice worth sharing.

Printable Shopping List for the seven recipes listed below. <PDF

Follow the prepping instructions included in a recipe
Figure 6. Ever notice how cooking looks so easy on TV and that all the ingredients are already chopped and ready to go? Save yourself extra time and hassle by following the prepping instructions included in a recipe. Courtesy of Katie Smith (Unsplash).

Shopping. Purchasing ingredients (and supplies) can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to complete, depending on how many meals you are making, so plan accordingly. Leave yourself plenty of time to compare prices, to travel to other stores in the area, and to double check your list. It’s probably best to purchase your groceries the day before. This will ensure freshness!

Prepping. Do Not Skip the Prep! (Figure 6). As you prep, place the ingredients individually in bowls on a separate part of your counter or on a different table, buffet-style. It simplifies the cooking process and helps to avoid cross contamination (the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc.). This is especially true when working with raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Indeed, keep these foods and their juices away from already cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce.

Recipes

Printable PDF version of all seven Recipes listed below. <PDF

Meal 1
Electric Pressure Cooker

Balsamic and Brown Sugar Pulled Pork (Figure 7)

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prep Work: Mince the onion.

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds pork roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Balsamic and Brown Sugar Pulled Pork
Figure 7. Your family will be in hog heaven with this Balsamic and Brown Sugar Pulled Pork recipe.

Meal 1. Balsamic and Brown Sugar Pulled Pork. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. In a gallon-size plastic freezer bag in a round bowl/dish, add the following ingredients:
    • Pork roast
    • Salt and pepper
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  2. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  3. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hot water

Instructions:

  1. Thaw in the fridge overnight or put frozen round meal directly in electric pressure cooker.
  2. Add 1 cup hot water.
  3. Put on lid and set steam valve to sealing. Cook on Manual/High Pressure for 40 minutes.
  4. Once done, let it do a Natural Release.
  5. Once the cooking is complete, shred the pork with two forks and mix into the sauce. Strain before serving.

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, minced onion, garlic powder, and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Place the pork roast into the electric pressure cooker inner pot with the hot water. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce on and around the pork.
  3. Continue with step 3 above.

Serving Suggestions

Sides: Fruit and/or potato chips; hamburger buns to serve as a sandwich

Recipe courtesy of MyFreezEasy (FreezEasy Media), https://myfreezeasy.com/instant-pot-balsamic-brown-sugar-pulled-pork/.


Meal 2
Electric Pressure Cooker

Vegetable Beef Stew (Figure 8)

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prep Work: Scrub and dice the carrots; brown the ground beef.

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon Better than Bouillon (or 2 cups low-sodium beef broth)
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 cup green beans, cut (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water (omit if using beef broth)
Vegetable Beef Stew
Figure 8. This savory Vegetable Beef Stew will fill up and warm up your family on cold evenings. Courtesy of Eric Zhu (Unsplash).

Meal 2. Vegetable Beef Stew. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. Brown the ground beef in the electric pressure cooker. If using the Better than Bouillon, you can add it after the ground beef is cooked and stir to combine well.
  2. Add the ground beef to a gallon-size plastic freezer bag in a round bowl/dish, then add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  4. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 2 cups water or low-sodium beef broth

Instructions:

  1. Thaw in the fridge overnight or put frozen round meal directly in electric pressure cooker.
  2. If using the frozen meal, turn on the sauté setting and add a lid. I use a glass slow-cooker lid, but you could just use a regular pot lid. Heat the stew on sauté for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has thawed. Add 2 more cups of water (or beef broth, if not using Better than Bouillon) and the potatoes. Press the Cancel/Off button to turn off the sauté feature.
  3. Cover with the electric pressure cooker lid and set the vent to sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure button. Make sure that the pressure is set to high and set the time to 10 minutes. Once the cook time is complete, allow the pot to depressurize naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release any remaining pressure.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. To bypass the freezer step, simply add all of the ingredients to the cooked ground beef in the electric pressure cooker and continue with step 3 above.

Serving Suggestions

Sides: Cornbread

Recipe courtesy of Mary Haymaker, chattavore.com, https://chattavore.com/instant-pot-vegetable-beef-soup-freezer-meal-version/#mpprecipe-container-564.


Meal 3
Electric Pressure Cooker

Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad (Figure 9)

Yield: 4 Servings
Cook Time: 15 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 4 small boneless chicken breasts
  • 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1 cup red salsa
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Open, drain, and rinse can of black beans.
  2. Add the beans to a gallon-size plastic freezer bag in a round bowl/dish, then add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  4. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup HOT water
  • lettuce
Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad
Figure 9. Spice up your family’s palate with bowlful of Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad. Courtesy of Katka Pavlickova (Unsplash).

Meal 3. Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. Thaw in the fridge overnight or put frozen round meal directly in electric pressure cooker.
  2. Add ½ cup HOT water.
  3. If using the frozen meal, turn on the sauté setting and add a lid. I use a glass slow cooker lid, but you could just use a regular pot lid. Heat the soup on sauté for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has thawed. Press the Cancel/Off button to turn off the sauté feature.
  4. Cover with the electric pressure cooker lid and set the vent to sealing. Select the Manual or High-Pressure button. Make sure that the pressure is set to high and set the time to 15 minutes. Once the cook time is complete, allow the pot to depressurize naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release any remaining pressure.
  5. Shred the chicken into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Prepare the salad: Place a layer of lettuce on a large plate (in an amount you desire) and spoon the shredded chicken and black beans from the cooker on top. See Serving Suggestions to finish, if desired.

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. To bypass the freezer step, simply add all of the ingredients to the electric pressure cooker and follow the directions listed in steps 4–6 above.

Serving Suggestions

Garnish with guacamole, sour cream, and salad dressing, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of MyFreezEasy (FreezEasy Media), https://myfreezeasy.com/instant-pot-chicken-black-bean-taco-salad/.


Meal 4
Electric Pressure Cooker

Cilantro Lime Chicken (Figure 10)

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prep Work: Juice the limes and chop the cilantro.

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
  • Marinade:
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Figure 10. A spicy marinade makes for a juicy and savory helping of Cilantro Lime Chicken.

Meal 4. Cilantro Lime Chicken. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. Juice limes.
  2. Chop cilantro.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together marinade: canola oil, juice from limes, brown sugar, minced garlic, chili powder, chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper.
  4. In a gallon-size plastic freezer bag set in a round bowl/dish, add the boneless chicken thighs and prepared marinade.
  5. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  6. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup HOT water

Instructions:

  1. Thaw in the fridge overnight or put frozen round meal directly in electric pressure cooker.
  2. If using the frozen meal, turn on the sauté setting and add a lid. I use a glass slow-cooker lid, but you could just use a regular pot lid. Heat the frozen meal on sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then if needed, add water or chicken stock so that the total liquid is at least 1 cup. Press the Cancel/Off button to turn off the sauté feature.
  3. Cover with the electric pressure cooker lid and set the vent to sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure button. Make sure that the pressure is set to high and set the time to 15 minutes. Once the cook time is complete, allow the pot to depressurize naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release any remaining pressure.

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. To bypass the freezer step, simply add all of the ingredients to the electric pressure cooker and follow the directions in step 3 above.

Serving Suggestions

Sides: Rice and/or vegetables

Recipe courtesy of MyFreezEasy, (FreezEasy Media), https://myfreezeasy.com/instant-pot-cilantro-lime-chicken/.


Meal 5
Electric Pressure Cooker

French Onion Pot Roast (Figure 11)

Yield: 10 Servings
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prep Work: Chop the onions into large slices; chop the meat into large chunks and season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper.

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds top round roast
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
French Onion Pot Roast
Figure 11. The mouth-watering tenderness of French Onion Pot Roast will have your family coming back for more.

Meal 5. French Onion Pot Roast. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. Chop the meat into large chunks.
  2. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop onions into large slices.
  4. Add the roast and onions to a gallon-size plastic freezer bag in a round bowl/dish, then add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  6. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Place the frozen ingredients into the electric pressure cooker.
  2. Cook on Manual High Pressure for 60 minutes.
  3. Natural Release.
  4. Remove the meat and shred.
  5. Mix together 2 Tablespoons of the broth with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch; set aside.
  6. Turn pot on sauté and wait for juices to come to a boil.
  7. Add in cornstarch slurry. Continue cooking for 1–2 minutes until sauce reaches the desired thickness.
  8. Pour juices and onions over the meat and enjoy!

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. Place olive oil in the electric pressure cooker.
  2. Mix together dry seasonings and rub all over the meat.
  3. Slice onion and add to the pot.
  4. Add 3 cloves of garlic.
  5. Cut meat into large chunks and place in the electric pressure cooker on top of the onions.
  6. Pour in 1 cup of beef broth.
  7. Follow steps 2–8 in above (Cook-from-Frozen).

Serving Suggestions

Sides: Mashed potatoes and/or vegetables

Recipe courtesy of Adventures of a Nurse, https://www.adventuresofanurse.com/instant-pot-french-onion-pot-roast/.


Meal 6
Electric Pressure Cooker

Lasagna Soup (Figure 12)

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prep Work: Chop the onions and mince the garlic; brown the ground beef, onions, and garlic.

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or sausage, if preferred)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped onions
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar (24-ounce) spaghetti sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
Lasagna Soup
Figure 12. The rich and cheesy yumminess of Lasagna Soup will give your family its pasta fix pronto.

Meal 6. Lasagna Soup. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. Press sauté button. Wait until the display reads HOT then add 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
  2. Add ground beef and cook about 4–5 minutes, until no longer pink. Drain grease and cool the meat.
  3. Put cooked and cooled ground beef, onions, and garlic into a gallon-size freezer bag set in a round bowl/dish, add the following ingredients.
  4. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  5. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces broken lasagna noodles or favorite pasta
  • 4½ cups beef broth
  • ricotta cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  1. Thaw in the fridge overnight or put frozen round meal directly in electric pressure cooker.
  2. If using the frozen meal, turn on the sauté setting and add a lid. I use a glass slow-cooker lid, but you could just use a regular pot lid. Add 4½ cups beef broth. Heat the soup on sauté for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has thawed. Add 6 ounces broken lasagna noodles. Press the Cancel/Off button to turn off the sauté feature.
  3. Cover with the electric pressure cooker lid and set the vent to sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure button. Make sure that the pressure is set to high and set the time to 4 minutes. Once the cook time is complete, allow the pot to depressurize naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release any remaining pressure.
  4. Stir and serve.
  5. Top each bowl of soup with some ricotta cheese and a good sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. Press sauté button. Wait until the display reads HOT then add 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
  2. Add ground beef and cook about 4–5 minutes, until no longer pink. Drain grease and return meat to pot.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes.
  4. Add spaghetti sauce, basil, oregano, beef broth, and broken lasagna noodles.
  5. Stir to make sure noodles are covered with liquid.
  6. Set electric pressure cooker to Manual/High Pressure for 4 minutes.
  7. Natural Release.
  8. Serve each bowl of soup topped with some ricotta cheese and a good sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Serving Suggestions

Sides: Garlic bread and green salad

Recipe courtesy of Melissa Kuczera, Sparkles to Sprinkles, https://www.sparklestosprinkles.com/instant-pot-lasagna-soup/.


Meal 7
Electric Pressure Cooker

Salmon with Lemon and Dill (Figure 13)

Yield: 4 Servings
Cook Time: 2 minutes plus pressure build/release time

Prepare-to-Freeze

Ingredients:

  • 4 fillets salmon

Instructions:

  1. Freeze the four Salmon fillets in a freezer bag.
  2. Remove as much air as possible and seal shut.
  3. Add label to bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Cook-from-Frozen

Ingredients:

  • 3–4 medium lemons, separated
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 bunch dill weed, fresh
  • 1½ Tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼teaspoon pepper
Salmon with Lemon and Dill
Figure 13. Salmon with Lemon and Dill—a healthy and delicious way to introduce the kids to eating fish.

Meal 7. Salmon with Lemon and Dill. <PDF

View Recipe

Instructions:

  1. Place ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, plus ¾ cup water in the bottom of the electric pressure cooker. Add the metal steamer insert.
  2. Place the frozen salmon fillets on top of the steamer insert.
  3. Sprinkle fresh dill on top of the salmon, then place one slice of fresh lemon on top of each one.
  4. Lock the lid, then set to Manual/High Pressure for 5 minutes.
  5. When the timer beeps, press “Cancel” and carefully flip the Quick Release valve to let the pressure out.
  6. Serve immediately with butter, extra dill and lemon, and salt and pepper.

Cook-from-Fresh

Ingredients:

  • All ingredients from Prepare-to-Freeze and Cook-from-Frozen sections above.

Instructions:

  1. Same as in Cook-from-Frozen instructions but cook for 3 minutes in step 4.

Serving Suggestions

Sides: Brown rice and green beans

Recipe courtesy of Super Healthy Kids, https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/10-minute-instant-pot-salmon-from-frozen/.


About the Author

Becky Hutchings—Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, University of Idaho Minidoka County

Cover Photo

Photo courtesy of Becky Hutchings.

BUL 963 | Published November 2021 | © 2022 by the University of Idaho


Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Barbara Petty, Director of University of Idaho Extension, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844. The University of Idaho has a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, disability or status as a Vietnam-era veteran.
U of I Peer Reviewed Icon

Contact

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 10
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2332 Moscow, ID 83844-2332

Phone: 208-885-7982

Fax: 208-885-9046

Email: calspubs@uidaho.edu

Location