One of the main veggies for meal prep, broccoli is versatile, healthy, filling, and easy to prepare. If it is soggy and mushy, it is terrible.
To avoid this, I recommend using fresh broccoli instead of frozen. You can save time by buying the bags of florets (I get a large, very well priced bag at Costco).
Broccoli provides many health benefits such as vitamins C and K, and it is a good source of folate (folic acid — especially important for expectant mothers), as well as potassium and fiber (helps to keep you full and lower cholesterol!).
Not only that, but broccoli has a superpower — it helps to fight allergies and inflammation using kaempferol and isothiocyanates, which are phyto-nutrients.
An extra benefit is that Vitamin C builds collagen, which is fantastic for skin and bone health and can even ease joint pain and help build muscle. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which helps fight cancer causing free-radicals.
So your mama was right — you need to eat your broccoli if you want to grow big and strong (works for lifting too! 😛
Steamed Broccoli in the Instant Pot
The most basic way to cook broccoli for meal prep, this versatile method can be spiced up after cooking by tossing in a sauce or seasoning mixture. You will likely need a steamer basket for this method.
- Place steamer basket into Instant Pot
- Place broccoli into steamer basket and add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot
- For frozen broccoli: set to manual, high pressure for 2-3 minutes for crisp but tender broccoli (4-5 minutes for more tender than crisp)
- For fresh broccoli: set to manual, high pressure for 1 minute!
- When IP beeps that it is finished, perform quick release and carefully (with oven gloves) remove steamer tray
My favourite way to season broccoli cooked using this method is to add it to chicken teriyaki meal prep. I cook my chicken and toss it in teriyaki sauce (see my recipe below), and then add broccoli and drizzle lots of sauce on top.
Asparagus is a popular choice among clean eaters and meal preppers. It is low calorie, low carb, and chock full of nutrition.
Like broccoli, it has a lot of fiber, folate, vitamin C and K. It also contains vitamin A and E (powerful antioxidants), and the micro-nutrients zinc, iron, and riboflavin. This makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians and pregnant women.
Asparagus contains the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer flavonoids quercetin, isorhamnetin and kaempferol, helping to protect the heart and prevent cancer.
Steamed Asparagus in the Instant Pot
For this recipe to work, you need to use the larger asparagus stalks rather than the thin ones as they have a tendency to get too mushy. Also make sure your water for steaming is quite cold so that the asparagus don’t steam in hot water for too long.
- Place water in bottom of Instant Pot along with the steamer basket
- Toss trimmed and washed asparagus in oil
- Add asparagus to basket
- Lock the lid and set to steam for 1 minute
- Perform quick release of steam immediately when timer goes off
- Season as desired (see excerpt below from my protein meal prep post)
- For Mexican style add 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, cumin and oregano and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. Add lime juice to finish when cooked.
- For Italian style add 1/4 tsp each of any of garlic powder, onion powder, chili flakes, oregano, parsley and 1/8 tsp basil, rosemary, thyme
- For BBQ seasoning add 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, chili powder, and 1/8 tsp each paprika, onion powder
- For jerk seasoning add 1/4 tsp thyme, sugar, 1/8 tsp each allspice, cumin, nutmeg, cayenne
- For curry seasoning add 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp each coriander, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg, cayenne
- For taco seasoning add 1/4 tsp chili powder, garlic powder and 1/8 tsp cumin, onion powder paprika and oregeno
- For smokey southwest seasoning add 1/4 tsp garlic powder and chili powder, and 1/8 tsp onion powder, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, cumin
- For Vietnamese style seasoning add 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ginger, mint, anise
- Check out this shawarma seasoning mixture from Closet Cooking
Love ’em or hate ’em brussel sprouts are super nutritious and a good veggie to use in your meal prep repertoire to mix things up. I typically roast mine (in bacon grease!) but I found that using the Instant Pot is a viable option as well and so I thought I’d include it here for you to try.
Brussel sprouts have only 28 calories per half cup (unless they are roasted in bacon fat that is…shhh) and a whopping 137% of your recommended Vitamin K and 81% of your recommended Vitamin C intake for a day! This makes them a powerhouse for your blood, tissue, and bone health.
Like broccoli and asparagus, they are also high in fiber and antioxidants (particularly kaempferol) to aid in heart health, cancer prevention, and digestion.
Bacon Brussel Sprouts in the Instant Pot
This recipe can be made without the bacon of course, but it’s worth it 😉
- 2 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 lb of brussel sprouts, cleaned
- 1/2 cup water or chicken/vegetable broth
- optional finishes: 1/4 cup pitted chopped dates, 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp butter
- Set Instant Pot to saute and add chopped bacon
- Cook until fat is released
- Add brussel sprouts and liquid
- Lock lid and set to manual, low pressure for 3 minutes
- When time is up, perform quick release
- Remove and drain off liquid
- Add optional finishes (Try it! It’s delicious!)
Another popular meal prep choice, I like to use green beans when I’m making Asian inspired meal prep. Green beans seem to go well with sesame and garlic and gingery flavours.
Just like it’s other green vegetable counterparts, green beans have a lot of folate. They also contain about 25% of your recommended Vitamin C in just one cup! Manganese is found in plenty in green beans which is a metabolism supporter along with magnesium and potassium.
Green Beans in the Instant Pot
- Put liquid in bottom of Instant Pot
- Add steamer basket and green beans
- Set to manual low pressure for 4 minutes for crisp beans
- Quick release when time is up and toss in a bit of butter or oil of choice. For Asian inspired meals, I like to use toasted sesame oil. For Italian I like to use olive oil and some garlic (or garlic oil!) and some grated Parmesan cheese.
Good old overlooked cauliflower, once the lonely leftover on a veggie platter has seen a massive comeback as a replacement for more calorie dense and carb heavy potatoes. It also stars as a stand in for rice, pizza crust (when mixed with lots of cheese), and weirdest of all — chicken (wut?). Yup, there is such a thing as Buffalo Cauliflower…
For the purposes of this post, I’ll stick to easy to incorporate recipes that are made in the Instant Pot (duh!). These recipes can be adapted to a variety of cuisine styles for meal prep diversity.
Cauliflower has only 25 calories in a cup (!) and 77% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. It is also high in fiber and antioxidants as well as hard-to-find choline which is essential for metabolism and brain health (aiding in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia).
Choline is not found in many foods, so adding cauliflower to your diet is a great idea, especially if these diseases run in your family. Another fantastic source of choline is egg yolks. See here for instructions on how to make eggs in the Instant Pot).
For steamed cauliflower, follow the exact same instructions as for steamed broccoli, setting Steam timer for 0-1 minute only for fresh cauliflower.
Cauliflower serves as a decent stand-in for potatoes in this dish. It’s less fluffy and pillowy but if you are trying to cut back on calories or balance your carbs then it’s a good back up.
Mashed cauliflower can be made with greek yogurt, garlic, and broth for around 60 calories per cup. Meanwhile mashed potatoes come in at a typical 214 calories per cup if made in the traditional way.
- 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
- one whole head of cauliflower, cored and leaves removed
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped chives or green onions
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Set Instant Pot to Saute
- Add oil and chopped garlic and saute until fragrant
- Add broth and place trivet in Instant Pot
- Set cauliflower head on trivet and lock the lid
- Set to manual, high pressure for 4 minutes
- Perform quick release when timer is up
- Strain off liquid in fine mesh sieve but keep garlic
- Use immersion blender (this is the one I use) or a food processor or a potato masher to mash cauliflower and garlic
- Season with salt and pepper and serve with chopped chives or green onions
Cauliflower Rice in the Instant Pot
Rice is a standard in meal prep because it is filling and healthier (less processed) than noodles or pasta. The old bodybuilder meal of chicken, rice and broccoli has been adapted with the popularity of lower carb diets or carb cycling diets. While I do not advocate restrictive very low carb diets, I do think using a vegetable in place of rice is a great way to add nutrition and stretch your calories.
- Place cauliflower on trivet or in steamer basket in Instant Pot and add liquid
- Lock lid and set to manual, high pressure for one minute
- When time is up, perform quick release
- Strain liquid and return Instant Pot insert to the base
- Set Instant Pot to saute
- Add oil or butter and place cooked cauliflower inside
- Use a potato masher to gently break up cauliflower into rice-like pieces
- Season with desired seasonings
Some of the best ways to serve cauli-rice:
* lemon and garlic with Greek chicken or pork loin meal prep
* cumin and tumeric for shawarma seasoned shredded chicken or kofta meatballs
NOTE: Serve Greek or Shawarma/Kofta meal prep with this absolutely addictive and delicious garlic sauce below!
I love squash! It’s one of my favourite veggies. When I discovered spaghetti squash several years ago, I was so excited. A super nutritious and delicious way to serve dishes traditionally made with thin, long noodles.
Even better, my kids loved it.
The only problem is that it takes quite a while longer to cook in the oven and it can be difficult to cut and de-seed when raw.
The easiest and quickest method I’ve found for cooking any squash is in the Instant Pot. You simply pop it in and go. Cutting it is much easier to do after it has softened during the cooking process.
Squash is incredibly nutritious. It has 450% of your recommended daily Vitamin A in just one cup and about 50% of your recommended Vitamin C. This is a powerful combination for immune function and free-radical protection as they are both anti-oxidants.
As well, squash contains B Vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and manganese which are fantastic for blood and bone health.
Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot
- 1 cup water
- 1 spaghetti squash
- Put water in bottom of Instant Pot
- Place trivet inside
- Poke or slash holes all over the squash, place inside Instant Pot, lock lid
- Set on manual, high pressure for 12 minutes (or steam function for 20-25 minutes)
- Perform quick release when timer goes off
- Slice open, discard seeds and shred lengthwise with a fork
TIP: I like to make meatballs in the Instant Pot to go with spaghetti squash. You can even cook the squash on top of a meat sauce! You can make your meatballs and place in ingredients for sauce (like this recipe) and then place your squash on top and cook together!
Butternut Squash in the Instant Pot
- 1 whole butternut squash
- 1 cup water
- Put water into Instant Pot and place trivet inside
- Poke holes in squash, set squash on top of trivet and lock lid
- Set on manual, high pressure for 25 minutes
- Let natural release for 10 minutes, then perform quick release
- Remove and let cool before slicing, peeling and cutting up
Butternut squash is a very easy vegetable to fit into meal prep. It can be tossed in a bit of oil and some seasonings to suit a variety of cuisines. It’s natural sweetness pairs especially well with spicy dishes and seasoning mixtures as well as curries.
How Do You Use Your Instant Pot?
Do you use your Instant Pot for meal prep? Do you have any tried and true recipes or tips to share? Please leave a comment below and let us know!