Easy, Inexpensive Pasta Dishes

I love preparing my packed lunch for work for these reasons. Oh well, let me rephrase that. Here are the reasons why you should prepare your packed lunch for work or school:

  1. You get to control the portion (therefore you can manage to share too!).
  2. You have a say on what to eat, how it should taste (spicy? a bit sweet? pepper-y? herb-y?) and how to prepare it.
  3. You save money.
  4. It’s home cooked food (not your fast food stuff that is loaded with whatever stuff to ensure longevity) and home cooked food rocks.
  5. You get really creative in the kitchen.
  6. If you are a complete health freak (calories, eh?), your dish can be insanely balanced!

Today I will share three pasta dishes that helped me get through a very, very, very broke stage of my working life (payroll disputes, anyone?).

With the help of some pantry ingredients, I sure made something wonderful out of these ingredients. Happy wallet, happy tummy.

The “base” of all pasta dish is the pasta of course. I found this pasta sitting on the counter (my aunt sent us some stock from the US so yeah, this pack must be put to good use!).

This pack of linguine lasted for three solo batches as shown on this blog post.
This pack of linguine lasted for three solo batches as shown on this blog post.

First pasta dish: Pasta in Meaty Red Sauce

One whole garlic One whole onion One carrot
One whole garlic
One whole onion
One carrot

Not in photo: Ground Beef

Cost of this dish:

Onion – 10 PhP

Carrot – 15 PhP

(Garlic – pantry)

Ground Beef – 22 PhP

Tomato Sauce – 12 PhP

Total: 59 PhP or roughly 1.28 USD

Heaping serving of this meaty, healthy goodness!
Heaping serving of this meaty, healthy goodness!

By the way, this dish could feed two people! I was not able to finish this serving because it’s a lot. Blame it on the hearty meat sauce.

As for the procedure, all you have to do is saute the onion and once translucent drop the garlic. Once the garlic starts to be golden brown (not burnt okay?) add the ground beef. Cook well. Put the tomato sauce and a bit of pasta water. Whilst reducing you may add the shredded carrots. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar. Reduce to your desired consistency. Serve on top of the cooked linguine.

Something worth mentioning: the smell of the reduction drove my two cousins crazy (we are neighbors) that one of them tracked where the smell was coming from and bam! Found me cooking this baby.

Second Dish: Pasta with Smoked Longganisa (Filipino sausage)

My go-to pasta dish! This pasta dish is super easy to prepare and super inexpensive! If you have some left over longganisa in the fridge or a pack of pasta at home (like me!) then wow, you found a treasure!

Longganisa is such a joy to work with. I do not really like this delicacy as viand (especially the round, little ones in pork casing) but I like it when I put it in fried rice and in pasta…like this one!

One whole garlic To be exact, that is five pieces/slices of smoked longganisa
One whole garlic
To be exact, that is five pieces/slices of smoked longganisa

Cost of this dish:

Smoked longganisa slices (from your local grocery meat section) – 25 PhP

(Garlic – pantry)

(Chili flakes – pantry)

Total: 25 PhP or roughly 0.55 USD

A treat to the taste buds!
A treat to the taste buds!

Saute the garlic and once it starts to be golden brown, add the smoked longganisa. Cook for five to ten minutes, add pasta, adjust taste with salt, pepper and as for me, I added my ever favorite chili flakes for that extra spice. You may add Italian seasoning too if you want! Too bad my little jar of Italian seasoning expired weeks ago so the left over I had to throw away too — bye good friend, you have been spectacular.

Third Dish: Pasta with Spanish Style Sardines

This is no bullshit, in your face, quickie, taste overload pasta!

This is a can of black olives I found at home.
This is a can of black olives I found at home.

This damn thing gets snubbed at home so I am going to make it the best supporting actress of my dish haha.

My apologies — was not able to take a photo of the Spanish style sardines (in can) and the several cloves of garlic used (yup, not a whole garlic, just maybe three to four cloves of finely chopped garlic).

Cost of this dish:

My apologies again, I forgot the price of the sardines! Kick me on the shin! Well let us peg it at 30 PhP, I know it’s less than that but let us put it at that. By the way, its brand name is “Family Spnish Style sardines” to those who are curious.

(Garlic – pantry)

Eden cheese slice, individually packed – 12 PhP

Total: 42 PhP or roughly 0.92 USD

This will put all those overpriced and overhyped pasta dishes to shame.
This will put all those overpriced and overhyped pasta dishes to shame.

Easy peasy. Saute garlic until golden brown (again, not burnt! LOL) then, add the sardines, cook for some five minutes, add the olives, cook for two more minutes, toss in the pasta. As for me, I did not add anymore seasoning, I just served it as it is, anyhow, I will be putting cheese which will add saltiness to the pasta dish. Oh! You may add some herbs or chili flakes if you want! And garlic bread on the side too.

Roughly, for three days I only spent 101 PhP or 2.20 USD and on a fine payday my lunch would range anywhere between 200 to 400 PhP see the difference. I know there is some effort involved but don’t you think a little effort in this world of instant everything (instant celebrity, instant millionaire, instant boyfriend, instant noodles) is worth the shot?

Come to think of it, you shell out some 200 PhP for a plate of pasta that you can replicate at home — this is luxury especially if done everyday or most of the time especially if you are paying your bills with a meager income. If you have more than enough, cooking your meal is not a bad idea at all, still a win-win situation, yes? See above reasons why you should, at least at some point, prepare your packed lunch.

There you have it, my super yummy and super affordable pasta dishes! Go grab your kitchen tools and cook!