Time Management Hack: Cutting Meal Prep Times

One of the major time killers, at least for me, is time preparing meals. I do the cooking for my wife and me, which means I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen. This led me to learn a time management hack that helps cut meal prep times down.

For us, breakfast is the one meal that I spend more time preparing than any other meal. Dinner comes second and lunch is usually very quick. We like to eat a good breakfast and it’s really more of a brunch, as we do a smoothie about an hour before breakfast. It may consist of hash browns, vegan French toast (we use the recipe from Plant Based on a Budget here), a vegetable dish for me (tacos or a bit like a stir-fry with beans), fruit and oatmeal. Preparing this type of meal can be very time consuming.

We used to eat the typical breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast just about every morning, which still takes a bit of time to prep, as bacon isn’t instant. However, it was about 30 to 40 minutes of prep with this typical breakfast. With our vegan breakfast, it takes more like an hour or even 75 minutes.

The hash browns can be a bit time consuming, but if I start them immediately, everything else is done at about the same time. The one big issue I run into is cutting my vegetables for my breakfast. Here’s how I cut about 20 minutes from my breakfast prep each week.

Cutting Veggies Ahead of Time

meal-prep-times

It’s a pretty simple hack, but on Sunday (sometimes Saturdays), I cut and put together 4 or 5 mason jars full of veggies. These may include all kinds of choices, depending on what the local farmer’s market has and what I can find in the frozen organic section. I might have zucchini, peas, carrots, onion, bell peppers, squash and a number of other options in there.

I use mason jars because I don’t trust plastic when it comes to food. Plus, they fit very nicely in the door of our fridge and seal far better than cheap plastic containers. The only plastic we use in our kitchen is usually plastic baggies as they are hard to avoid when you’re working with a small fridge.

Anyway, I cut 4 jars because, right now, Monday through Thursday are my longer work days most weeks. With 4 sets of veggies already cut, I can go into the day without having to cut anything. This saves me more than an hour (total) over those four days and gets us to the table with breakfast much sooner.

Freezing the Hash browns

This isn’t my hack or one that I have even used, but I am going to be trying it in weeks coming up. The other big part of breakfast that is a time-killer is shredding and soaking the hash browns. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I could do other things during the process, like I can while they are cooking. However, the first 10 minutes of prep time is spent shredding potatoes and getting them soaking.

I am going to try the hack from Country Cleaver, which shows you how to freeze hash browns. I will need to free up a little room to actually lay them out and have them freeze in our little freezer for a few hours, but I think I can manage. I will not be pealing the potatoes as we prefer our peals cooked with all those great nutrients in there. I will also not be using a food processor, but a regular grater.

My plan is to do eight potatoes a week and if it works, this should save me another 10-15 minutes every morning. If I can make this work my 60 to 75 minute prep time should get down to between 40 and 50 minutes for breakfast. I don’t know if there are any other meal prep time management hacks I can use at breakfast past this. The oatmeal is very quick and usually done before other things and my veggies cook pretty quickly, too. Everything else takes less time to prepare and I might find, with these two hacks, I can prepare breakfast even faster.

Do you have any great time management hacks you use to cut meal prep times? If so, share them in the comments below.

Comments 2

  • Good advice Benjamin. Intermittant faster here so I rarely eat before 1 PM. This saves me time. And helps to produce my 32 inch waist LOL. Lunch is light fare, beans and carrots with hummus maybe. 3-5 minute prep, 10 minutes to eat. Dinner is prepped by wifey and I; usually a vegetarian stir fry. 20 – 30 mins to prep and 20 mins to eat. All else is 5 minute snacks. I dig food but mainly view it as nutritious fuel that I can enjoy but use mainly to energize myself. So I spend not too too much time on it.

    • Love it! In fact, your comment has sparked my wife and I to go back to intermittent fasting. We did this before the holidays last year (we were not vegan or even close to that yet) and it seems to help us. I think I am also going to cut my breakfast down to just the smoothie I usually do in the morning, which will help save on prep time, too.

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