I like variety at dinner time. But did you know that one pantry staple can create 20 different dishes? That’s right I’ve got 20 things you can make with a jar of pasta sauce. Everything from kid-friendly to slow-cooker to dinner party worthy appetizers can be made with your favorite a jar of pasta sauce.
I take my meal planning and grocery budgeting SERIOUSLY — I don’t want to hit the grocery store every day and I try to limit my trips to once a week.
To keep my household budget on track I pay extra attention to our grocery budget and take care to plan meals around what is already in my freezer and pantry, rather than on a whim because I FEEL like making that thing I just saw on Pinterest.
I’m balancing my desire to try new foods with the need to keep my eye on that weekly bill, experimenting with a new recipe can be costly as you purchase a bunch of ingredients that you’ll only use a portion of.
So a pantry staple like pasta sauce is a key ingredient that offers me the chance to serve a variety of tasty, budget-conscious dinners…QUICKLY.
Here are 20 things you can make with a jar of pasta sauce!
Steak and Spaghetti
(Family favorite that always surprises people.)
Serve your favorite cut of steak (my preference is Ribeye) alongside spaghetti (my sauce preference is something with parmesan). Swoon from the deliciousness of this unexpected combination.
Spaghetti with Your Favorite Protein
My husband: Hot Italian Sausage
Me: Meatballs (From the freezer case.)
My kids: Italian Sausage
Pro Tip: Thin Spaghetti cooks FAST. Great for when everyone is hungry and tired and wants to have eaten 15 minutes ago.
Slow Cooker Chicken Spaghetti Sauce
Combine in a slow cooker: One BIG jar of pasta sauce (66 oz), one 8 oz jar of pesto sauce, 4-6 chicken breasts . Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken, serve over your favorite pasta. Added bonus, you can use frozen chicken breasts.
Combine cooked rigatoni with browned ground beef, and a jar of pasta sauce in a baking dish. Top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees until the top is golden bubbly (10-15 minutes.)
Stars with Pasta Sauce and Cream
Pastina pasta (tiny star noodles) prepared and mixed with pasta sauce and a touch of half-and-half or heavy cream (whatever is in my fridge). This is our version of those canned noodles and sauce for kids.
(Sorry for the banged up box. But my 4 year old INSISTED on carrying the box through the store.)
Chicken Parmesan Meatball Casserole
Works great when I want to sneak in ground chicken instead of beef. Get the recipe here.
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Mix: cooked Ground beef, pasta sauce, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. Place in a baking dish an sprinkle with additional mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the top is gold and bubbly. Serve with garlic pita chips, crostini, or breadsticks.
Baked Calzone Brie
Wrap the following in puff pastry dough: wheel of brie that has been topped with pasta sauce and pepperoni. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees until the pastry is golden brown.
Cauliflower Breadsticks with Marinara Dipping Sauce
Get the recipe here.
Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Get the recipe here.
Prepare 1 cup of rice according to the directions, but substitute 1 cup of cooking water for pasta sauce. Stir in scallions, capers, and olives.
Get the recipe here.
Quick Cream of Tomato Soup
One jar of pasta sauce, 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt, blend and simmer. Serve with garlic bread, grilled cheese, or croutons.
I replace the “liquid” ingredients in the standard meatloaf recipe with pasta sauce, and add shredded parmesan cheese, and seasoned italian breadcrumbs to the mix. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce to bake.
I prefer to use pasta sauce when I make pizza at home, I like the flavor options and consistency of the sauce better. Yeast baking befuddles me, so we use store-bought dough and everyone gets to add their favorite toppings.
Pizza Mac & Cheese
Prepare your favorite “cheesy noodles” as we call them around here. Add a few tablespoons of pasta sauce. Boom. The kids are thrilled.
Italian Grilled Cheese
Add pasta sauce and dry salami to your grilled cheese. Feel all sorts of fancy.
Spread pasta sauce on breadstick dough, add mini pepperoni, sprinkle with mozzarella and bake according to package directions.
Italian Sloppy Joes
Add a jar of pasta sauce to your cooked ground beef. Simmer and serve on ciabatta rolls.
My Mom’s FAMOUS lasagne is built on solid foundation of store-bought pasta sauce. It’s doctored and various secret ingredients are lovingly added, but the point is that you can save yourself a TON of time building this layered masterpiece if you start with a delicious jar of sauce.
Don’t tell my mom that I sold her out.