Instant Pot mac and cheese

Between tying shoes, brushing teeth, and zipping backpacks, mornings can be a whirlwind to get everyone on the bus in time. Within all the chaos, packing a well-balanced lunch is essential as it boosts brain power for growing minds. Packing lunch has never been easier with everyone’s favorite kitchen appliance: the Instant Pot! Coming to the rescue with easy meals ideas, the Instant Pot is perfect for making food in batches to last throughout the week. From shredded chicken to simple “baked” potatoes, this miracle machine isn’t just for dinner. Explore more ideas to work your Instant Pot into every meal of the day, including your child’s packed school lunch.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

Rachel Cooks

This approachable protein is a match made in lunchbox heaven, fork-tender in 15 minutes or less. Shredded chicken is delicious on its own and goes so well with other lunchbox-friendly favorites like hummus or a simple green salad. Shredded chicken is also incredibly versatile—fold into a cheese quesadilla or serve with rice for a protein-packed lunch to fuel your kids throughout the day. Get the recipe.

Instant Pot ‘Baked’ Potatoes

Instant Pot Baked Potatoes

Crunchy Creamy Sweet

Looking for an easy, vegetarian-friendly lunch that will surprise and delight? Tightly wrap a ‘baked’ potato, fresh from the Instant Pot, in a couple layers of aluminum foil to keep warm until lunchtime. Include toppings on the side like a dollop of sour cream or shredded cheese for assembly at the cafeteria table. If the potato is a hit, go for more adventurous toppings such as Instant Pot Turkey Chili or opt for a sweet potato instead. Get the recipe.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Platings and Pairings

What kid can resist macaroni and cheese for lunch? This Instant Pot version comes together in minutes, with a simply cooked macaroni noodle and whatever shredded cheese you’ve got on hand. If you’re feeling industrious, serve with a side of lightly steamed broccoli to get in those greens (also cooked in your trusty Instant Pot!). Get the recipe.

Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs

Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs

Detoxinista

If your kid will go for it, hard-boiled eggs really are such a great way to get a decent amount of protein into one packed lunch. A whole dozen eggs can steam in minutes inside of the Instant Pot, setting you up for success when it comes time to pack lunches. Wrap peeled eggs in a slightly dampened paper towel and serve with salt and pepper packets on the side. Get the recipe.

Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

A Saucy Kitchen

If your child’s lunchbox comes with a heat-safe thermos, soup is totally the way to go! Chicken and wild rice soup is a great way to include good, energy-boosting carbs in a young eater’s lunch. Depending on your child’s preferences, swap the rice for quinoa or veggies for wilted kale for another take on this classic soup. Get the recipe.

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Damn Delicious

Red beans and rice traditionally take hours for the full flavor profile to develop, but the Instant Pot makes this classic dish even easier by cutting down the cook time. The best part about this meal is how adaptable it is; skip the spices to appeal to young palates or substitute andouille with veggie sausage for a vegan take. Get the recipe.

Header image courtesy of Platings and Pairings.

Rachel Johnson is a millennial food person; she writes about food, all she Instagrams is food, and she just can't stop talking about it. Her first cookbook, "Stupid Good: A Shut Up and Cook Book" was published in 2014, encouraging the merits of fresh, vibrant food and cooking for yourself as a twentysomething. Today, Rachel works as a freelance food writer and photographer specializing in online food media and manages her brand, Stupid Good Food. She lives in Austin with her boyfriend, dog, and full pantry.
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