How to save 4 hours in the kitchen, every week

Are you getting sick of preparing your bean based meals? Maybe it’s just getting to be a chore, finding food every day when you’re at the office, or at home in the middle of the day, when you have a lot to get done. I’d heard plenty about batch cooking, but I’ve never been able to devote so much time to cooking, and the whole reheating food thing doesn’t work well for me – I either burn it, or end up with cold spots. There is a better way! And it doesn’t involve weird looking frozen things filling your freezer, or making pots of chilli big enough for a scout jamboree.

I do a lot of cooking, that is, I cook 4 meals per day. Over a week, that really adds up, and I find that the longer the week goes on, the less interested I am in cooking. This is bad news for food variety, and bad news for slow carb in general, as I often put off cooking in the middle of the day as I grow more and more tired of it and am then frustrated to discover I’m feeling hungry (a big no-no for fat loss).

I don’t know about you, but, as much as I love food, and as much as I get satisfaction knowing I’m eating good healthy food, I still don’t get a lot out of preparing meals day to day. It’s a different story if I’m making something special, but preparing 4 meals every day means some of them are going to be less than special. Some of them, in fact, are purely practical.

So how do we combat the boredom of food preparation, and still make sure we’re getting great slow carb meals every day?

The answer is one that I found, involves some inspiration from some of my favorite TV shows. I am fanatical about lifestyle shows based around cooking, but not so much for the cooking itself. Not even for the food. I’m fascinated by the process and the people. So, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is one of my favorites. It shows a lot of restaurants, behind the scenes. And like any restaurant, generally speaking the chefs are coming in, sometime in the afternoon, to prepare for the dinner service.

And there’s the key – they prepare for the meals before they cook them. They don’t do both together.

My next piece of inspiration came from a recent weekend in the city, and a quick stop at Subway for a salad. I was standing there, and said to my friend ‘Man, I wish I had exactly -that- in my kitchen – I would make salads and all kinds of stuff every day!”.

So I figured I could do my best at emulating the Subway setup. And let me tell you, it works wonders.

I’m not talking about pre-cooking chicken strips! I’m talking about prepping for meals.

batchprep 200x133 How to save 4 hours in the kitchen, every week

Batch prepping.

It is so simple, and actually quite an enjoyable activity.

I hate washing up, but I like chopping things. Normally I get a few minutes chopping, and a few minutes washing up.

This way, I get about 30 minutes chopping, and the same few minutes washing up. Less, in fact, because I store the diced veges, rather than temporarily having them in bowls before I cook with them. The key to the time saving, is that when you’re doing one thing at a time, in a larger amount, it just goes faster. There’s time opening and closing the fridge, sorting things out, washing before cutting, etc – doing a batch saves a ridiculous amount of time because you are at a cutting station, going nonstop.

So what’s the result?

Cooking is now a joy, because it doesn’t involve prepping. I simply open up some ziplock or tupperware containers, and away I go! Better yet, adding up the time savings across the week means I’m in the kitchen for 4 hours less! Don’t think that’s possible? Check out the multiplier effect on prep time for each meal:

Food prep and wash up of knives, bowls and cutting boards- 10 minutes per meal

4 meals per day = 40 minutes per day

7 days a week =  280 minutes – nearly 5 hours!!

Previous prep and wash time: 280 minutes/week

New prep and wash time: 40 minutes/week

Time saved: 4 Hours.

I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this all along! Think of all the time spent washing and cutting things up. Even if you do a batch session twice a week, you still stand to save hours compared to preparing every meal separately.

The best bit about this is that my meals now have more variety, and are tastier than before. The bonus is that cooking now is quick, and fun.

Give batch prepping a try and I promise you will never go back. Put on a favorite TV show in the background and the time will fly. Then, all you have for the rest of the week is the fun of selecting what you want to use in your next meal! All you need is something to store everything in – if you need some containers, get some today!

Do you batch cook or batch prep?? Share some of your tips below in the comments! I bet there’s some tricks that I haven’t discovered yet.

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. Watch our Couples Challenge Update – Week 2 This week, our couples answered questions about their favorite slow carb meals, what it's like to be on the diet and have other people ask questions about it, and there are some great...
  2. Watch the videos – Couples Challenge Update Week 3 Our couples are making great progress, and this week they share some amazing health benefits they've found from being on the slow carb diet. If you have fibromyalgia or plantar fasciitis - don't...
  3. Watch the Four Hour Body Couple – Couples Challenge Videos – Week 1 We have met with each of our couples to discuss their goals, and why they would like to achieve them, along with just how they are finding the slow carb diet and the...

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21 Responses to How to save 4 hours in the kitchen, every week

  • Brian says:

    Great advice -

    I’ll throw out another tip related to cutting prep time: precut frozen veggies! There are really lots of different varieties, for instance frozen cut up stir fry veggies. Getting generic is cheep and taste the same as premium, especially since not going for any that come with flavoring or sauces.

    Most frozen veggies (and fruit) are flash frozen at the same time “fresh” produce is and kept frozen so nothing is usually lost nutritionally or taste wise (especially with the right seasonings)

    • Luke says:

      Hey Brian that’s a great idea! Frozen veges can sometimes actually have more nutrition, so that’s a great tip. I have found locally for me precut options aren’t that abundant, and are pretty expensive, however if you have good selection at the right price at your grocery store, they’re definitely a great alternative to chopping and dicing yourself!
      All the best,

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  • Dave Moniz says:

    I use a large crockpot to cook 6 pounds of chuck stew meat on automatic and eat that for a week.

    I use a large sealable container filled with 2 cans of black beans and a 1/2 cup measuring cup.

    I cook pounds of bacon in the oven for an hour.

    I bought a freezer for my basement so my shopping can be once a month.

    I eat 4 eggs every morning with bacon so I cook batches of eggs and put in ziplock bags in the fridge. I’m also experimenting with cooking eggs in the oven.

    I use paper cups and solid paper plates to cut down on dishes to wash.

    I bought 2 cool pill cases from walmart that each has 28 compartments (7 days and 4 comparments per day). Once every 2 weeks, I can load up my vitamins for 2 weeks! Beats opening bottles all day long.


    • Luke says:

      Hey Dave, you’re a batching-monster! Sounds like you might be saving yourself more than 4 hours every week, great job!!

  • Melissa says:

    I make a huge container of salsa that will last me 3 to 4 days, and I buy frozen chopped spinach that I’ll cook with leftover gravy or curry! Other than that, toss huge amounts of salad and store them without dressing. :)

  • Anni says:

    Every Monday I cook up about 4 different meals (anything from Chilli to chicken to steak) and then all week I have all my meals (except breakfast) ready to go.
    It’s much easier in the morning to pack lunches and when I get home for dinner it’s easier to stay on track knowing dinner just needs to be heated.
    It tends to take anywhere from 2-3 hours.
    But I do use your veggie prep. I cut up all my veggies first and separate them according to meal. It’s such a time saver :-)

    • Luke says:

      Right on! What a great way to do things :) I can’t wait until I’m in one kitchen routinely again, so I can do some batch prep and batch cooking.

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  • Jason says:

    While generally I support this suggestion and use it myself- very nutrition conscious’ people should note that washing, cutting, chopping and generally prepping vegetables -reduces- slightly their overall nutritional content/availability…..

    So, depending on bow much you need to save to save time and how fresh you want your veg., this should be taken into account

    (but overall I think it’s a fine thing that I do myself….)

    • Luke says:

      Hi Jason,
      Great comment and thanks for making it. You’re right, and this is important to some people, so it’s very worthwhile it being here.
      All the best!

  • mike says:

    i do this every week. i don’t know if it saves 4 hours, i think that’s an absolute best case scenario.

    For me its about having healthy options readily available in the fridge at any given time.

    • Luke says:

      Cheers Mike. I think it’d be different for different people. It depends a lot on how many meals you make at home, especially.
      Like you say though, you can’t beat having healthy, ready to go options right in front of you! Makes life a lot easier.

      All the best,

  • Claudette says:

    Here’s a great tip I learned recently. In a large bowl, mix one part vinegar and ten parts water. After you chop up a batch of veggies, swirl them around in the vinegar water, transfer them to a colander, rinse well with cold water, then pat dry with clean paper towels. This kills any bacteria lingering on the food, leaves no vinegar taste or odor, and prevents mold from developing. The food is great for days and days. You can even do this with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc. NO MOLD!!!!

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