Dining on a dime can begin to feel like your own personal Groundhog’s Day; you eat the same bland foods—chicken, rice, salad—over and over again until you can’t tell one meal from the last. But did you know there’s actually a pretty simple way to spice up your low-budget menu?
Believe it or not, all you need in order to eat yummy food without spending a lot of dough is a simple box of spaghetti! Paired with just a few ingredients, you can make the kind of savory meals you’d normally see in any restaurant—for a fraction of the price!
When you’re on a budget, there’s nothing like making spaghetti for dinner. It’s cheap, easy, and you can make a lot of it! It’s also pretty boring—but it doesn’t have to be. There are tons of creative meals that start with just one box of spaghetti…
1. Pizza spaghetti casserole: You only need a few additional ingredients—hearty tomato sauce and cheese—to combine two of your favorite comfort foods: pizza and casserole…
If you have some sausage, mushrooms, or pepperoni lying around—basically any pizza topping—you can throw those into the dish, too. Then, bake the entire thing at 350 degrees for an easy six minutes…
Congratulations, you just whipped up a pizza spaghetti casserole just like Nana used to make! Somewhere, an Italian grandma kisses her fingertips every time one of these comes out of the oven.
Shared Food / Facebook
2. Crack chicken spaghetti bake: With just a few pantry staples, like cream of chicken and Velveeta cheese, you can have a dynamite spaghetti meal in your future. Not sure how this all comes together? Well…
It’s pretty easy to make. First, mix two cans of cream of chicken, Velveeta cheese, and a cup of chicken broth in a saucepan. Pour that on top of your pasta, add shredded chicken and bacon bits if you have them, and then more Velveeta.
Now bake it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When all is said and done, you’ll have a heaping casserole dish filled with chicken, spaghetti, and cheese. Be careful, though: it’s addicting!
3. Spicy peanut noodles: This Thai-inspired dish involves peanut butter, peppers, soy sauce, some herbs… and of course, your standard box of spaghetti noodles! You’ll need to put in some leg work for a sauce, but it’s worth it…
You can buy a Thai peanut sauce to save time, but it’s pretty easy to make it yourself. Just combine a half-cup of peanut butter with one or two tablespoons of water; then add soy sauce, Sriracha, lime juice, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil and mix.
Stir-fry your favorite veggies and toss everything—sauce and all—with your cooked spaghetti noodles. In no time, you’ll have delicious peanut noodles that will literally spice up your dinnertime!
4. Spaghetti bundt cake: Every kid dreams of eating dessert for dinner, but now you can actually do it! All you need is milk, eggs, cheese, spaghetti, and a bundt pan.
First, line your bundt pan with the cooked noodles. Then toss it with one-and-a-half cups of milk, two cups each of shredded mozzarella and sharp white cheddar cheeses, some Parmesan, and three large eggs.
Let it bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes and voila! You’ve got yourself a delicious spaghetti bundt cake that you can slice up and serve. Sure, it’s not technically dessert, but it’ll seem like it!
5. Million dollar spaghetti: Meat may not always be a staple in every budget-eater’s fridge, but if you have a hankerin’ for some ground beef, then this spaghetti recipe might be the one for you. You’ll also need cream cheese and ricotta…
Brown a pound of ground beef and set it aside. In the same skillet, cook onions, garlic, spinach, carrots, and grape tomatoes. Bring the beef back to the party, along with half a cup of marinara sauce, then pour it over half your spaghetti in a baking dish.
Tastes Better From Scratch
Mix cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta and dump it onto your beef-topped spaghetti. Then add the rest of the pasta, cover it with foil, and cook it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Now you can eat like the one percent with a slice of “million dollar spaghetti!”
6. Spaghetti alla puttanesca: Anchovies are any kid’s worst nightmare and the one pizza topping most likely to have even your biggest pie enthusiasts fleeing. But combined with spaghetti, onions, and some tomato paste, they make for a flavorful, yet simple, dinner!
First, you’ll want to sauté garlic and onions and add three or four cans of anchovies to a sizzling saucepan. Then stir in two tablespoons of tomato paste, a can of crushed tomato, half a cup of white wine, some oregano, red pepper flakes, a pinch of sugar, and olives. Let it all simmer…
Hank Shaw / Simply Recipes
While that’s simmering, cook your spaghetti al dente. Once done, mix it with your anchovy sauce. Now you’ve got a dish that would make chefs at the Olive Garden bow down!
7. Cream cheese baked spaghetti: What do you get when you mix a pack of cream cheese with half a cup of sour cream? Something delicious, that’s what! Combine those two and set it aside. Now, sauté some onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a pan. Add ground beef and let it brown…
To your meaty brew, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, then half a teaspoon of basil, oregano, and pepper flakes. Let those simmer for 10 minutes; in the meantime, spread your cream mixture over a baking dish of cooked spaghetti.
Pour the meat mixture over your cheesy spaghetti, top it with more cheese, and bake it all at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Make sure you grab a napkin, because this meal has mouth-watering side effects!
8. Asian stir fry noodles: Vegetables like peppers, shallots, mushrooms, and peas are kitchen staples; they also tend to be super-affordable. Why not put ’em to use as part of a simple spaghetti recipe?
Drop those aforementioned veggies—along with a teaspoon of curry powder—into an oiled skillet and cook them until they’re tender. In a bowl, combine one cup of chicken broth, a quarter-cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon each of minced garlic and hot chili oil, and a teaspoon of ginger…
Now throw some cooked spaghetti onto your veggies and then add the chicken-broth sauce. That’s all it takes to have this Asian-inspired pasta dish sitting on your dinner table! You can even swap out the vegetables if you’d like.
Alpha / Flickr
9. Bucatini Amatriciana: Everyone loves bacon, and this spaghetti dish puts it on full display. Just grab a can of peeled and diced tomatoes, and you’re on your way to some good cookin’.
First, chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry it in a skillet. Add a pinch of pepper and pepper flakes, as well as two cloves of garlic and three-quarters of a cup of diced onion. Top it with a 12-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Cook up your spaghetti—al dente is best for this dish—then top it with the contents of your skillet, bacon and all. Congrats! You’d make Emeril Lagasse proud with this number.
10. Chicken Parmesan pasta: A couple of chicken breasts can go a long way in making a delicious meal, but when you add spaghetti, cheese, and a little lemon zest into the mix, you’re sitting on a main course gold mine…
Spritz your chicken with a bit of lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and brown them in a skillet with butter. In a separate pot, mix five cups of milk, Italian seasoning, bouillon cubes, and more pepper…
Great British Chefs / YouTube
Then, create a roux—a fatty sauce base—by mixing a half-cup of flour and five tablespoons of butter. Stir in your milk mixture into it, whisk away any lumps, and bon appétit! Top your spaghetti and chicken with the sauce and you’re all set.
11. One skillet pasta bake: You only need a single skillet for this recipe. Make sure it’s one that can go in the oven, though, else you might burn your house down. (We recommend cast iron.) Ready? First, sauté up some sausage, garlic, and onion…
Add pasta, a can of diced tomatoes, two cups of water, some Italian seasoning, and a pinch of sugar. You like cheese? Good! Load a bunch of mozzarella on top. Sliced, shredded, cubed—it doesn’t matter!
Let it all simmer on low, then place it on a low-set broiler. Blast it with heat until that top layer of cheese is brown and melty. Carefully remove it from the oven and add more cheese and fancy toppings. Now, how easy was that?
These are some top-notch dishes that need little more than a box of spaghetti! You’ll be preparing fancy—yet easy—meals in no time, and all for little cost.
Share these easy spaghetti recipes with your friends below!