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Read the damn manual that comes with it.

I'm the last person on the planet earth to read the instructions for anything. Why? Because I'm Irish and stubborn and always assume I can just figure things out on my own. And while you can get away with it sometimes (like when you're assembling furniture), you're going to want to read the instructional packet cover to cover. Not only does it have some good recipe ideas, but it's chock-full of ways to use your Instant Pot that might not necessarily be intuitive for Crock-Pot converts. I know more than a few people who've used it without fully understanding how it works, and let's just say it was a disaster.

I've Pretty Much Eaten Every Single Meal Out of My Instant Pot For a Year, and Here's What I Know

As someone whose mom grew up making tons of soups and casseroles in a Crock-Pot, I knew as soon as the Instant Pot ($60) - a pressure cooker that supposedly cuts cooking time in half - came out that I absolutely needed one. Fortunately, my mother-in-law got me one last year for Christmas, and I've been experimenting with recipes from pork pho (pictured) to sweet potato crostinis (below) ever since.

Although this pressure cooker is a bit bulky for my small apartment kitchen, it has truly revolutionized meal prep for me. Since you can do everything from sauté to roast in the metal bowl, only one pot needs washing when you're done. (Hooray!) Another bonus? Some dishes that used to take eight-plus hours in my Crock-Pot now take an hour or less. As a person who often leaves the "what are we having for dinner?" discussion to the last possible second, this is a major win.

Despite the fact I would do anything for my Instant Pot - I practically sleep with it - using the various buttons and settings takes some getting used to. Fortunately, after a year of cooking in my beloved invention, I can finally offer up some tips for Instant Pot newbies. Here's what I've learned so far in my culinary journey.

Related:

These Dinners Practically Make Themselves - All You Need Is an Instant Pot