" ... from zatarans taste the same.... "
-- eew! I must cook from scratch *because* the commercial crap taste different.
" ... takes me over an hour to chop all of my veggies.... "
-- depends on how much veggies, and how picky you are about your chopping. Professional cooks *must* chop quickly. I am slower, but is chopped very exactly. When I make Ratatouille it takes me about an hour to *thin* slice two zucchini, eggplant diced in 1/2" (not 3/8" or 5/8") cubes, *very thin* slice onion, bell pepper in 3/4" pieces, mushroom caps (no stems) also thin sliced, and a pound of roma tomato 1/8" slices.
I don't do gumbo, but my Jambalaya takes over 30 minutes to slice/chop the sausage/ham/onion/pepper and 75 minutes to cook. My most time recipe is my beef stew, about 4.5 hours cooking time. Slow cooking has the best flavors. I'm having steaks today, about 8 minutes to cook. The baked potato will be served with sauteed onion/butter/sour cream. It takes 45 minutes to saute the onions -- slowly, perfect, nothing burnt. Hey! I'm retired and picky.