Something amazing happened this week.
Because I’m teaching my kids to cook, dinner got on the table on time when it never would have otherwise – including the easiest homemade mashed potatoes ever!
Tuesday was a crazy day, with one meeting stacked upon another and school conferences at 4:30 p.m. I did very poor meal planning, deciding what we were having halfway through the day! I barely had time to throw a pork tenderloin into the Instant Pot – like literally throw it in, drizzle some olive oil on, haphazardly shake in some Italian seasoning and ask Google, “How long to cook a pork tenderloin in the Instant Pot?” and then stab at the buttons. (30 minutes with a natural pressure release will do it for 2 pounds of meat, if you need to know.)
A hunk of meat doth not a meal make, especially when there are in-laws coming over and 4 hungry children! My original plan was to get mashed potatoes started in our other Instant Pot – yes, we have two of them – before I left for conferences, but it just didn’t happen. I had 3 minutes, exactly. Guess what you can do in 3 minutes?
- You can remind your 12-year-old boy about how he and his sister made a video of Instant Pot mashed potatoes a few months ago and ask him if he can do it tonight.
- You can skim through the recipe with him and make sure the deer-in-the-headlights look is out of his eyes since you sprung this on him with no warning – Yes, son, don’t worry, you do know how to make mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot.
- You can show him where the red potatoes are and remind him his sister likes lots of butter in her mashed potatoes.
And then you can rush out the door, feeling grateful that dinner is in good hands and amazed at how teaching kids to cook is paying back!!!
We Teach Kids to Cook
At least I can – and it’s my hope for YOU that your kids can save dinner sometime, too! But you have to teach the kitchen skills in advance, when there’s not time pressure for dinner. Then you can reap the rewards when you’ve made all the bad planning choices in the world one day.
I’ll show you how to make the easy mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot too – you don’t have to drain the water off, which makes it perfect for kids to do since you’re avoiding the heavy lifting that usually comes with mashed potatoes!! Also, no boiling over. I may have a bit of a boiling-over complex myself, because I’m always trying to cook as fast as I can and multi-task, which means at least 75% of the mashed potatoes I’ve made in my life created more work for me later, cleaning off the stovetop – at least I know how to do it naturally and effectively, right? #smallwins
This Instant Pot potato salad is another recipe that kids can tackle without having to deal with boiling potatoes on the stove top.
BUT if you’re going to ask your kids to do this, they need some kitchen skills first. We’d love to help you out with our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, teaching 30 basic cooking skills to kids ages 2-12 in organized, FUN video lessons:
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Now is Your Chance to Cook with Your Kids!
They’ll remember this time the rest of their lives…
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Actually, let’s let the kids show you how easy it is to make Instant Pot mashed potatoes – they’re 6, 9, and 12 in this video. Didn’t they do great?
VIDEO: Easy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes by the Kids
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple years – for good reason. It really can do just about anything.
Although it can seem a bit daunting to use at first, it really becomes quite simple once you give it a try.
Use the techniques, tips and simple recipes from the Instant Pot Guidebook to get started, and before you know it, your Instant Pot will become indispensable!
Recipe: How to Make No Drain Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
In case you didn’t catch all the amounts in the video, here’s the written recipe:Print
These mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot are so easy, kids can make them. No draining, no heavy pots, no babysitting the stove.
- Cut the potatoes into large chunks. Quarters is fine for red potatoes; big bakers will need to be more pieces.
- No need to peel if you don’t want to, although you may.
- Put the potatoes and liquid into a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot.
- Add and optional garlic.
- Check the seal and lock in the lid. Turn the valve to “Sealing.”
- Set the Instant Pot for 10 minutes on high pressure (usually this is the “Manual” button).
- It will take 5-10 minutes to get up to pressure. When the 10-minute cooking time is up, use a long wooden spoon to safely open the valve and release the pressure.
- Open the lid carefully. Most of the water will be absorbed, but if it still looks a little liquid-y, don’t worry – mashing will solve the problem.
- Add milk and butter (to taste) and any other seasonings you enjoy.
- Mash the potatoes right in the pot (or do as my Grandma does and use a KitchenAid mixer paddle, but that’s not as safe for kids, moving hot potatoes around).
- The Instant Pot will automatically be on “keep warm” so you can close the lid again and serve the potatoes any time in the next few hours!
* Other seasonings like Herbs de Provence can make your smashed potatoes step up a notch in elegance!
* Non-dairy milk works fine as well and olive or avocado oil.
* A huge thank you to Bethany at Woodhaven Place for the basic no-drain technique!
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And on conferences day, to finish up that story, thank goodness Paul was on the task, because I ended up having a very productive and hopeful conversation with our principal about this idea for no-food birthday parties and didn’t get home until nearly 6! I was able to quickly saute some frozen veggies and boom – dinner, on the table. Instant Pot + kids who can cook = miracle! Now that’s my kind of math!
I’m excited to see where the birthday treat conversation goes at the school and feel optimistic that some small change may begin to happen, even if it’s not the pushy, global change I tried to propose 3 years ago. I’m all for small wins, and I’ve learned a lot about working together from the book The Third Alternative by Stephen Covey.
Where to find a Pressure Cooker
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. You can even get a carrying case to travel with it!
If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazon – this is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.
The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.
If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.
My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!
She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!
This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.