Chicken Pot Pie Chowder

7 Tips to Prep & Plan for Healthier Eating

Cooking well-balanced, nutritious meals that satisfy everyone at the dinner table can be difficult when schedules get busy, but there are a few things you can do during food prep that can save you time, money, and effort throughout the week. Here are seven ways you can make cooking during the week faster, simpler, and healthier when you prep ahead of time.

1. Freeze fresh herbs in small portions. Chop fresh herbs in advance and then freeze them in an herb freezing tray for easy access when you’re ready to make dinner. Heat up what you need for each meal and save the rest for later in the week.

2. Save and store extra pasta sauce. Make pasta sauces ahead of time and freeze them in leakproof containers. Thaw them the day you’ll use them and cook your favorite noodles. It’s an Italian feast in no time. Serve with a side dish of steamed vegetables or a fresh, tossed salad to balance out the carbs.

3. Get creative with side dishes. Side dishes are an easy way to change up your routine. Pair a protein with a new healthy side dish, and suddenly weekday meals aren’t so predictable. You can easily steam vegetables or rice in a micro-cookers, or you can make carrots a little more savory (try these Buttery Dill Carrots) while still getting much-needed nutrients.

4. Freeze vegetables, too. Freezing and saving for later is the epitome of all weekday prep planning, and you can parboil root vegetables and then freeze them. Toss them with olive oil and put them under a broiler on a sheet pan the night you need them. They’ll be ready to serve alongside your chicken or fish in a fraction of the time.

5. Turn side dishes into main dishes. Yes, you can always swap sides like white rice for healthier vegetables like cauliflower, but you can easily turn a hearty vegetable like cauliflower into the main ingredient. This Hawaiian Fried Cauliflower “Rice” works great as a side dish or a meal, and cauliflower steaks are a quick and easy option, too.


6. Stock up on homemade chicken stock. Chicken stock from the store is loaded with salt and preservatives, and soups and stews are much more flavorful when made with homemade chicken stock. Freeze chicken bones and then use them to make stock in the Rockcrok® Dutch Oven by adding water, celery, carrots, onions, and parsley. Cool the broth, skim the fat off the top, then strain the liquid. Use it in soups, like any one of these four fast, flavorful, one-pot recipes.

Chicken Pot Pie Chowder
7. Jar fresh, homemade minced garlic. So many recipes call for garlic, and you can save a lot of time by jarring your own fresh minced garlic at home. Chop garlic using a food chopper, put it in a glass jar, and cover it with olive oil to store in the fridge. Use it when you’re ready to make easy weekday recipes.

garlic bulbs

What do you do in your kitchen to cut down on prep time, eat healthier, or save money? Share in the comments below!

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29 Responses to 7 Tips to Prep & Plan for Healthier Eating

  1. Deborah L Bryner January 4, 2017 at 5:59 am #

    I make the BEST marinara sauce ever created, using my Pampered Chef 8-quart Stainless Steel Stockpot. I freeze my sauce in small containers and either use regular pasta or steamed spaghetti squash…but when I get my new Vegetable Strip maker, I will be able to substitute carrots or sweet potatoes for pasta.

    • Janet Heath January 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

      I would love to start making my own sauce, any tips?

      • Sandee Lykens January 10, 2017 at 7:04 am #

        Try this recipe featured on The Today Show:


        Four 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes with basil, preferably from San Marzano
        1/2 cup olive oil
        6 tablespoons minced onion
        4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
        Coarse salt
        12 leaves fresh basil, torn (optional) Can be Replaced with dried Basil or PC Italian Seasoning Mix
        Pinch of dried oregano
        Freshly ground pepper

        For Rao’s Marinara Sauce:

        Remove tomatoes from cans and place in a large bowl, reserving juices. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes. Remove and discard the hard core from stem end and any skin and tough membrane. Set aside.

        Place the oil in a large, nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until softened, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and the reserved juices. Season with salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 hour.

        Stir in basil, if using, oregano, and season with pepper. Continue cooking 1 minute more. Remove from heat and serve.

        Get other great recipes on my Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/lykenit88/

        • girljoey August 11, 2017 at 9:35 am #

          I pretty much use this very same recipe with a few changes: I just cut the onion in half and let it cook in the sauce. I also add raw carrot to address the acidity. These are removed at the end. I use more garlic but that’s a personal preference. My biggest difference is that after I take out 1.5 cups of tomato sauce for later, I then cook it in a 300 degree oven for 6 hours! It carmelizes and is sooooo yummy. At the end I add back the remaining tomato sauce and correct spices. For a non-meat sauce, this is the best I’ve had yet. I got this recipe from Serious Eats.

        • Karen ROWLAND May 31, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

          Sounds so good!

    • Liz January 9, 2017 at 10:55 am #

      Can you share your recipe for marinara sauce….? I’ve been looking for a great homemade recipe. 🙂

      • Mary Esther Provencio March 30, 2018 at 9:05 am #

        Just to be sure: After you caramelizr the 1.5 cups, you add it back to the sauce?

    • Rita lovejoy February 5, 2017 at 11:46 am #

      Would you email me ur marinara recipe?

    • Therese Blair August 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

      Watch out…carrots have alot of natural sugar, but still better than regular pasta. I use my spiralizer to do zucchini noodles

    • Karen ROWLAND May 31, 2018 at 6:58 pm #

      Would you email it to me?

  2. BJ Whiteman January 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    Great suggestions!

  3. Joan Stachow January 5, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    I luv these ideas, going back to order some of them.

  4. Jay January 6, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    Ty for adding me to this blog! Im always searching for “tricks of the trade” for my hubby and I!

  5. Kristi January 16, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

    In response to the Homemade Soup Stock suggestion above, I freeze not only my chicken bones but also my veggie trims: onion skins, celery leaves, parsley stems, carrot peels. That way when I make my stock, I’m not using up the parts of the veggies that I want to keep. It feels good to use up the otherwise wasted bits.

    • Mandi Sylvester January 21, 2017 at 11:11 am #

      Ohhh great idea about the leftovers! 🙂 To be completely honest… I’ve been with Pampered Chef for over 7 years now… and I’m just NOW starting to WANT to learn how to cook — because my family and I are on an incredible health journey! So I’m LOVING these tips here! And yes, you read that right… I’ve been with PC for that long and not a fan of cooking lol! I just love entertaining! 😀

      With the leftovers though… I do this with my homemade salsa as well. (Just type in salsa recipes in the search box on the PC website.) And one of the dishes I make at my cooking classes is the chicken fajitas with fresh salsa… Well the peppers I use in the fajitas are always left with the top or bottom… so I use those in the salsa! Taking the stem & ribs out with the Scoop Loop or Core & More tool. Happy Cooking!

      • J. Abbott January 23, 2017 at 9:28 am #

        Thank you for great idea

    • Vanessa January 21, 2017 at 11:27 am #

      Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lucia Bell March 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

      Hi, new to this blog, but 40+ years PC , and previous consultant. I love PC products!! My whole kitchen is stocked with them. My Executive pots and pans are well over 10 yrs old and still going stron, as are my Knives. I got those with one of my last parties. The complete set plus block, and sharperner. They are about 5 year old.
      I wanted to add to the conversation, that I save my boiled ” potato stock” as well as my chicken stock. I always season my potatoes when boiling, and the ” stock” left over I freeze. I use it to make soups, gravies, casseroles, etc. the other night I used it along with some chicken stock, to make a great chicken pot pie. I bake my b/s chicken breasts, so not much drippings, and so the potato and chicken sticks became my ” base” for the filling. It was great!

  6. Phyllis Hudson January 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm #

    I love the tips & ideas given on here. A great help !

  7. Phyllis Hudson January 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

    Thanks for these tips ! Great ideas !

  8. Marjorie Cuthbertson August 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    I never thought to save potato water for soup or anything else. thanks for the tip.

  9. Luna August 20, 2017 at 11:34 pm #

    These are great tips! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Brenda OHearn October 2, 2017 at 5:05 am #

    When boiling my pasta, just before the pasta is ready, I reserve about 2 cups of the “pasta water”, adding 1 cup to my pasta sauce and freeze the rest in my 1 cup prep bowl. You can reserve it all if you choose.

  11. Margie Chambliss October 30, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    I just purchased the 7 piece stainless steel cookware, was wondering if you would recommend seasoning the pans before using them. I’m new to stainless cookware. But i know cooking with them is much healthier than non stick cookware.
    And how do I season them if needed
    PS I love my set . They are heavy and really nicr

  12. Darlene Hayes March 6, 2018 at 5:29 pm #

    I buy ground beef in bulk and cook it with onions and garlic. I freeze it in portions that correlate to the amount of beef I cooked. For example, if I cooked ten pounds of beef I divide the cooked mixture by into ten Ziplocks (these work best) freezer bags. I remove air as I’m pressing closed and store these bags in gallon freezer bags. I always have this step done for burritos, tacos, lasagne, spaghettis and so many wonderful Pampered Chef recipes including the Power Cooking with beef recipes.

    • Jane Smucker May 29, 2020 at 1:46 am #

      Darlene Hayes I do this too, only I bake my Hamburger with out the onions. I’ll bake 6 to 10 lbs in half pound chunks. Then when it’s done, an hour to an hour & a half at 350. Of course you will need your PC oven mitts to lift that heavy thing out of the oven. I immediately pull it out of the grease with our tongs & place in a large bowl. As it’s cooling, I put two chunks (equals 1 lb cooked) into our batter bowl. I use the mix & chop to break it up. I pour it out onto a paper plate, & let it cool. While I chop the next lb. Then I use the paper place to funnel it into a 1 quart freezer bag. I push all extra air out & seal. Then I freeze it laying down flat. When all are frozen, they fit in a plastic shoe box standing on end, like a file folder in a filing cabinet. I place the shoe box on a shelf in your freezer. I love that taco’s, soup, casseroles, & pizza are so much faster. Another bonus? Less grease splattered on my PC apron.

  13. Sharyn baker January 6, 2020 at 9:18 am #

    Love to learn more easy meals to make on the go

  14. Lauri January 28, 2020 at 10:04 am #

    Anyone have a salsa canning recipe that doesn’t “cook” the tomatoes in the water bath? Love it fresh but getting good fresh tomatoes in winter is almost nonexistent.

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