6/24/09

One of the Most Affordable Meals - Pasta

Newly married couples and college students find out quickly that spaghetti dinners are one of the most affordable meals they can serve both on a random Tuesday evening for themselves or as a guest meal on Saturday night. It's a meal that can be plain or fancy depending on the additions and presentation. Add a side of salad, a fancy dessert and you look like you slaved away.

A pound of dry pasta can be bought for about $.88 average and if you buy a can or bottle of spaghetti sauce for $.99 (Hunt's brand in a can is usually about this price) you can add a loaf of French bread for $.99 and have a meal for 6 for under $3.00.

Because my kids have been brought up eating a wide variety of foods, we rarely have spaghetti but when I do make it I like to jazz it up a bit. That's what todays article is about; jazzing up store bought sauce.

First I'd like to give a quick and simple homemade spaghetti sauce that is so delicious you may not want to buy store bought. It's a dry mix you can keep in your cupboard and mix with a can of tomato sauce to make the amount you need. Double or triple the recipe if you like.

Simple Spaghetti Sauce Mix

1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c sugar (I suggest using less if you don't eat much sugar, as we don't)
1/4 c dried parsley flakes
1/4 c dried minced onion
1 t garlic powder
1/4 t red pepper flakes
2 T Italian seasoning

Mix 1 heaping tablespoon of spices into 8 oz. of tomato sauce. Heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Serve.

My regular readers are going to know that I'm going to implore you to 'play' with this recipe to make it your own. My family doesn't eat much sugar so I use less than called for because I think it's just a bit sweet. We also love garlic so I use fresh minced garlic as well as adding a little fresh minced basil from the garden. Green or red peppers? Mushrooms? Browned sausage or ground beef? Go for it! Also, I like to add it to petite diced tomatoes instead of plain sauce.

If you are more comfortable purchasing a can or bottle of store bought sauce I still implore you to jazz it up a bit to give it a homemade flavor instead of the 'straight from the bottle' taste. One of the easiest ways to make it 'homemade' is to add diced fresh tomatoes, a little fresh garlic, mushrooms, browned Italian sausage, basil or diced zucchini. Even the addition of a couple teaspoons of dry Italian seasoning will give it a flavor of being homemade.

With the economy tight and grocery prices high pasta remains one of the most affordable meals you can make!
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