5-Step Instant Pot Meals for College Students

5-Step Instant Pot Meals for College Students

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Finding the time to cook good, healthy meals can be kinda hard as a college student! For Christmas my sophomore year of college, my grandparents gave me an Instant Pot, which has made all the difference in my college cooking! 

If you don’t have an Instant Pot or are new to using one, I found this blog post to be helpful. 

I love quick, easy Instant Pot meals that call for simple ingredients and allow for minimal clean up 🙂 I’ve put together a list of some of my go-to Instant Pot meals as well as a couple new ones that I’ve tried. Each of these Instant Pot meals require simple ingredients and can be made in 5 simple steps! 

SHOP INSTANT POTS AND ACCESSORIES: 

CLASSIC STUFFED BELL PEPPERS

Stuffed bell peppers are one of my favorite meals! There are so many ways you can make them. I like to keep it simple with ground beef, diced tomatoes, cheese and seasoning. I also love this recipe for how easy and quick it is: simply mix the ingredients together, stuff the peppers, and pressure cook for only 10 minutes (as opposed to 30-40 minutes in the oven)!

You can also serve them with almost any side dish! When I made this recipe, I served it with couscous and steamed broccoli. Roasted sweet potatoes, sweet peas, cornbread, or green beans are also great options! 


Instant Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 4 bell Peppers any color!
  • 1/2 lbs lean ground beef I prefer 96% lean
  • 1 10 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese or any cheese of your choice!

Spices

  • 1/2 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Instructions
 

  • Cut tops off bell peppers and scoop out the seeds.
  • Pour 1 cup of water into the instant pot and set the steam rack inside. Place bell pepers right side up on the steam rack.
  • Mix ground beef, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 3/4 cup of the cheese, garlic, and seasoning together in a mixing bowl.
  • Fill the peppers with ground beef mixture and seal instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Quick release the Instant Pot and top peppers with remaining shredded cheese. Serve with rice, corn, side salad, roasted sweet potato, or vegetable of your choosing!

CHICKEN PESTO SPAGHETTI SQUASH

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? Its unique “noodles” make it a great low carb and low calorie alternative to pasta. Spaghetti squashes are large and funky, but the Instant Pot makes it really easy to cook. 

Once the squash is cooked, there are so many ways to serve it. You can serve it like traditional spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce, but I love this chicken pesto option (soooo yummy!). It’s also a very simple meal to make requiring only three main ingredients: chicken, pesto, and spaghetti squash! 

Instant Pot Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Kamrynn
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 3
Calories 350 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 2lb Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 jar Pesto
  • 2 Chicken breasts uncooked and diced
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 cup Water

Spices

  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Salt

Instructions
 

  • Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot and place the spaghetti squash on the steam rack inside.
  • Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 20-25 minutes (25 minutes for 3lbs squash)
  • While the squash is cooking, heat oil on stove top and cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Add to skillet and season with cumin, paprika, and salt. Cook on medium-high heat until cooked through (about 8 minutes).
  • After the spaghetti squash is done cooking, remove from pot and carefully cut in half.
  • Scrape out the seeds and noodles with a fork. Mix noodles, chicken and pesto in mixing bowl. Serve warm and enjoy!

Notes

  • For a 3lbs squash, cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. The spaghetti squash should be soft and very easy to cut when it's done. 
  • Use two forks to scrape the "noodles" from the squash. 
  • Serve with side salad or vegetable! 

CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

Chicken tortilla soup is one of my most favorite winter meals! Although it requires a lot of ingredients, it’s super simple to make. This recipe makes about 5-6 servings, so it’s great for cooking for roommates or freezing leftovers. 

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Kamrynn
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 500 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 15 oz can of white hominey drained
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans drained
  • 1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (or just plain diced tomatoes)
  • 1 15 oz chicken broth low sodium
  • 1 lbs chicken breast uncooked
  • 1 oz pack of taco seasoning (can also use 1 tbsp chili powder, and 2 tsp of the following: cumin, onion powder, garlic salt and black pepper)

Toppings

  • 1 bag shredded mexican cheese
  • 1 avacado
  • 1 lime or just use lime juice
  • tortilla chips/strips

Instructions
 

  • Place the uncooked chicken breast in the bottom of the instant pot.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with taco seasoning.
  • Add black beans, hominey, diced tomatotes,on top of chicken. Then pour in chicken broth.
  • Close and seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, quick release the valve and remove the chicken.
  • Using two forks, shred the chicken and return to pot. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, avocado and lime!

Notes

  • I like to buy thin sliced chicken breasts for this recipe. They're easier to to shred after they're cooked!  
  • Feel free to replace/add other ingredients-- like corn, jalapeno, zucchini, or whatever you like! 
  • You can also use the instant pot as a slow cooker. Follow the same instructions but use the slow cooker setting to cook for 5-6 hours on low or for 3-4 hours on high. 

TEMPEH & VEGGIES BOWL

Tempeh has been a new addition to my meal rotation recently! I’ve been experimenting with different tempeh recipes, and I really love these veggie bowls. It meets my three requirements: healthy, easy, and quick (Lol!).  All you need is tempeh, sweet potato, broccoli (or any vegetables of your choosing!) and some seasonings! 

Instant Pot Tempeh Veggie Bowls

Ingredients
  

  • 1 8 oz pack tempeh
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli or any veggie of your choice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

Seasonings

  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions
 

  • Set the instant pot to to saute setting and heat up the oil.
  • Cut the tempeh into small bite size pieces and saute until it starts browning (about 3-5 minutes). Season with paprika, Italian seasoning, and onion powder.
  • Dice the sweet potato and add to instant pot. Turn off the saute setting.
  • Add frozen broccoli (or veggie mix of your choosing) on top of tempeh and sweet potato. Pour in the vegetable broth.
  • Close and seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release when finished and serve on top of rice or quinoa. Enjoy!

Notes

  • This meal would also taste great with chicken or beef instead of tempeh

SAUSAGE & PEPPER JAMBALAYA

Another super quick and easy meal! Jambalaya is normally not a go-to meal for me, but I enjoyed this recipe! I used Zatarian’s jambalaya rice mix, which I think made all the difference. You could use any kind of sausage you like (I chose jalapeno because I love extra spice!). Even shrimp or chicken would work great. The whole meal can be cooked in the Instant Pot and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes!

Instant Pot Sausage and Pepper Jambalaya

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Total Time 17 mins
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pack sauage links I used jalapeno smoked, but italian sausage would also work great!
  • 1 bag frozen fajita vegetables (onion and bell peppers) or fresh sliced bell peppers and chopped white onion
  • 3/4 cup jambalaya rice mix or rice of your choice!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water or broth I used vegetable broth

Spices

  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Instructions
 

  • Turn instant pot to saute setting and add olive oil and minced garlic.
  • Slice sausage and saute until it begins browning (about 3-5 minutes). Season with italian seasoning.
  • Add frozen bell peppers and onions and mix with sausage. Saute for an additional minute and then turn off the saute setting.
  • Add 1 cup of broth or water. Then add 3/4 cup of rice on top -- do not mix with the sausage and peppers. Make sure the liquid just barely submerges the rice. Add more broth/water if necessary.
  • Seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release when finished. Fluff the rice and mix it with the sausage and peppers. Serve warm and enjoy!

Notes

  • To make this recipe even easier, I used a pack frozen fajita vegetables. If you use fresh bell peppers and onions, use 3 bell peppers (any color) and 1/2 white onion. No need to saute before pressure cooking. 
  • I used Zatarian's one pot jambalaya rice mix for this recipe. It worked great and added extra flavor, but any rice would work!  
  • You can also choose to replace the sausage with chicken, shrimp, or another protein of your choice. Just make sure the meat is pre-cooked if following this recipe. 

If you don’t already have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend getting one! It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you learn it, it makes weeknight dinners sooo much easier! And if you do have an Instant Pot, I hope you enjoy trying these meals 🙂 

Comment below if you tried any of these recipes! And check out my pinterest board for more Instant Pot meal ideas. 

much love,

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