National Pasta Month may be one food holiday worth celebrating. After all, if you have a box of pasta, you have a key building block for a cheap meal.
It’s not unusual to spot pasta on sale for $1 a box—or less, with a manufacturer’s coupon.
Pair pasta with any of a long list of other inexpensive ingredients, and you have dinner for several people, at a price tag of well below $10.
What’s your favorite cheap pasta dish?
Be sure to add these 8 to the rotation:
Pasta Shrimp Salad
“This is an inexpensive year-round pasta salad recipe,” says Debbie Anderson of PineapplesandPalmTrees.com.
To keep costs down, she buys the shrimp in a bulk bag from Costco.
Pasta Alla Carbonara Light
Gianni Pastore developed this recipe for Melarossa.it and its U.S. counterpart, ItalianDiet.com.
To make it, finely chop a bunch of parsley. Crack four eggs into a bowl and beat them. Add about a tablespoon of the finely chopped parsley and four teaspoons parmigiano to the eggs and mix.
Add pepper to taste. (If desired, cut a few strips of bacon into little pieces and cook. Completely cool before adding to the egg mixture.)
In a pasta pot, boil water. After water reaches boiling, add a tablespoon of kosher salt. Add half a box of pasta and cook until al dente.
Drain and quickly add the pasta into the egg mixture. Toss to mix well. Garnish with parsley.
Greek Pasta Salad With Chickpeas
This salad from health care program HumanaVitality, packed with tomatoes, olives, and other veggies, costs just $1.56 per serving.
Pasta e Fagioli
Chef Dana Klitzberg of private chef and catering company BluAubergine.com makes this flavorful pasta soup out of just a few ingredients.
To prepare, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add plenty of salt to water once it boils. Heat a second large pot over medium-high heat. Add four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and heat for one minute.
Add two finely diced cloves of garlic, one diced shallot, and one finely diced onion. Cook for three minutes.
Add one 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes and season with a touch of salt and pepper and a pinch of dried peperoncino.
Add a 64-ounce container of chicken broth and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, cook a pound of ditalini pasta (the small tubes) until al dente. Strain.
Add two small cans of cannelini beans (about 28 ounces worth) to the soup, and a tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. Stir to blend flavors. Add the pasta and mix.
Adjust for seasoning, adding additional peperoncino flakes at the end for added heat, if desired. Taste for salt and season accordingly.
Gnocchi With Kale and Sausage
“Ground meat and kale are not expensive and check off all the nutritional boxes,” says Jess Dang of CookSmarts.com.
Pair it with a $1.99 pack of premade gnocchi to make this easy dish.
Ham, Mushroom and Pea Pasta
Home cook Karl Miller promises this dish is fast as well as tasty. “Start cooking some Penne pasta,” he says. “While it is cooking, slice mushrooms and dice ham and sauté with butter or olive oil in a large skillet.”
(Miller eyeballs the amounts—about a third of a cup of each per serving.)
Add frozen green peas just before the pasta is al dente. Cook for another minute and half. Drain and add to skillet.
“Add a little more butter to the pan along with grated Parmesan cheese,” he says. “Toss a couple times ‘til the cheese is melted and all ingredients are distributed equally.”
Penne With Arugula, Feta, and Mint
“The juxtaposition of fresh mint with feta is a delightful addition to an otherwise modest pasta dish,” says Gena Knox, author of Southern My Way: Food & Family.
“The best part is, you do not need but a pinch of either ingredient to bring the entire dish alive.”
To prepare, in a medium saucepan, heat one teaspoon olive oil and sauté half a sliced red onion over medium-high heat until tender, about four minutes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add eight ounces penne and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water.
Toss pasta and two cups arugula in a large bowl, adding enough pasta water to coat—about a half-cup or so.
Add the onion, along with three ounces feta and one-third cup chopped mint. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Top with grated Parmesan if desired.
Pasta Alla Norma
Eggplant and ricotta salata make for a rich and flavorful combination in this easy dish from Caroline Chirichella of La Cucina Prima Donna.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.