Prepare Your Veggies For Quick Cooking (and a day in the life, sort of)

You might read this little time saving tip and say, “Hey, it takes the same amount of time to prep veggies no matter when you do it. This isn’t a time saving tip at all.”  And yet, in an effort to save us all from walking wearily into our kitchens at 5:10, with no motivation to peel a carrot, much less prepare an entire healthy meal – I felt this was worth mentioning. While you still have to get this work done sometime during the day, at least this does save a few minutes of effort at meal time.

Following this simple method is always so helpful to me. My day is a big mixture of schooling, working at the computer, doing household chores, cooking in the kitchen, and keeping up with the kids’ activities. I often hop around from math, to mixing up a recipe, to history lessons, to answering emails, to phonics practice, to putting lunch into the oven, to helping with an algebra question, to answering the door, to responding to potential website advertisers. You can see why I always give people a deer in the headlights look when they say, “So what does your schedule look like?”  Schedule? I don’t have one. I just work and parent and parent and work all day. I love it. Every day is different, yet it is very much the same. The kids know what they need to get done. Matt and I know what we need to get done. Our routine is un-scheduled.

Yet one thing is pretty constant about our days:  From about 3:00 to about 5:00 in the afternoons, the kids take turns having their “play Minecraft on the computer time” while Mom tries to write something that includes helpful information and complete sentences. Therefore, section 4 line 8 of the Coppinger Household Rules Handbook states:  “Do not interrupt Mom while she is in writing mode unless one of your brothers just blew up.”  Since “Do not blow up your brother” is printed in large, bold letters at the beginning of section 2, I think we can all agree that there should be no reason to interrupt Mom while she is in writing mode. Okay then.

I tell you all of this life in the Coppinger house information for one reason:  As I pull out of writing mode and back into the hungry people will need to eat soon mode, I find that I am slightly weary and brain dead from thinking, making decisions, and working all day. I do not feel like cutting broccoli into cute little trees. I am not excited about preparing cauliflower for roasting. I do not want to do anything in the kitchen but the bare minimum. This is where all my Getting Ahead in the Kitchen practices are invaluable. The kids get to come in and help get dinner on the table (their reward for not blowing themselves up during my writing time). And since I’ve already prepped the veggies earlier in the day, all we have to do is roast them, stir fry them, or steam them. Hallelujah!

Prep Your Veggies for Easy Cooking

So the Eat Healthy, Save Time tip of the day is this:  Sometime while you have ten minutes during the day, prepare vegetables for steaming, roasting, stir frying, eating raw – or however you’re going to serve them at dinnertime. Cover and put them into the fridge for later. (Hooray for Pyrex bowls with lids!)  Pull them out and cook them quickly for dinner. Not home much during the day? I’d suggest doing some prep in the evening before bed. The next day, after you get home from a day at work, school, or running errands – pull out your prepared veggies to cook with your meal.

Prepping veggies doesn’t take long, and it isn’t difficult. But it is something that we have to be intentional about – otherwise we’ll likely skip the veggies…again. Don’t do it. Focus on the veggies (section 13 line 4) Prepare them when you have a few spare minutes for effortless, brainless dinner prep later. Then, not only have the kids avoided blowing themselves up, our bogged down brains have not exploded either. It’s a win-win.


  1. says

    Laura, I was just finishing up posting about how we keep veggies “ready to go” for healthy snacks and I saw your post in the blog feed. Funny :)


  2. says

    Where was this post before dinner where I served only spaghetti because after schooling, piano lessons, choir, and getting stuck re-entering my own driveway, all I could figure out was spaghetti. Does homemade spaghetti sauce (frozen and reheated) count as a vegetable? Thanks for the post!


  3. Mrs K says

    Great tip! I usually prep veggie on Sundays for the week ahead. I get home at 5pm with a hungry 22 month old who wants to eat and play with mommy. When I’m consistent with the meal plan/prep ahead routine it makes my life so much easier and we eat better too.


  4. Stephanie says

    We use lots of frozen veggies so that there is no prep work and I can just throw them in a pan and steam or roast them. We do eat some raw veggies but if they are getting cooked they are frozen (with no additives/ extras in there).


  5. Michelle K says

    When hubby and I were doing good with our diet / eating changes, we would prep all veggies on Sunday afternoon for the week and put them in a big ziploc bag for easy access throughout the week for our lunches. We’ve slipped on this practice, but need to jump in and do it again! It really does make life easier!!!


  6. Sheila says

    Great tip! I sometimes prep my supper veggies (or whatever else can be done ahead if time) right after lunch. I’m pretty sure I got that great idea from you… helps so much!


  7. Margaret D says

    I should have read this yesterday before we heading out for a visit to the nursing home. I most certainly will do this from now on.


  8. Lana says

    That is one of my favorite things about buying my produce at Sam’s. Most everything is already prepped and cheaper than I could have bought it anywhere else. A quick rinse and I am cooking it!


  9. Deb Davis says

    I really like the idea of cutting up veggies the night before. I work outside the home during the day. In the morning I’m just too busy with a morning routine and after work I’m just too tired and hungry to start cutting up vegetables. I can cut up veggies while watching T.V. in the evening. Thanks for the tip. :)


  10. Elizabeth Trotter says

    Love the day in the life, Laura! Especially from mom’s perspective. We homeschool till 5:30, with a one hour break directly after lunch, during which they are not *supposed* to interrupt (but often do) my time to read and write. And by the time it’s 5:30 and I have to get supper ready, sometimes my brain is so dead, that all I can do is close the kitchen door, shove a cracker with some hummus into my mouth, and breathe in and out for a few minutes before trying to feed 4 loud, hungry people!


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