Spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, stuffed shells - what do these pasta dishes have in common? They are all family favorite dinner foods and usually pretty easy to make, too! That’s why pasta dinners are many parents’ go-to during a busy week. After all, they make great leftovers as well, which helps you save even more time, right?
In this blog, we’ll give you some new recipe ideas, including a creamy spin on lasagna and a twist on pizza. But first, let’s take a look at four handy and simple pasta cooking tips that’ll help you add flavor to your dishes, keep your pasta from sticking together and more! Now, get your pasta pot ready and keep reading to learn more.
Cooking Tips for Your Next Pasta Dinner
You’ve probably boiled pasta many times, but these tips will take your noodle-cooking skills to the next level. Plus, we have an idea for homemade sauce that’ll save you time for future pasta dinners. And any opportunity to save time as a parent is pretty great, right?
1) Salt the water.
Salting the water is an easy way to add a little extra flavor to your pasta dish. The key is to sprinkle in enough salt so the flavor can be easily detected in the water. Some even say that it should taste almost like sea water. But, the amount of saltiness is really up to you. And if you’re making a pasta dish that already has a higher sodium content, like macaroni and cheese, you may choose to use just a pinch of salt in the water. Otherwise, it can get a little overwhelming, especially if you’re using boxed mac and cheese. So, make sure to keep that in mind.
2) Add a splash of olive oil.
Have you ever cooked spaghetti or noodles, strained them and found that they had clumped together? It’s something we’ve all faced before, but there’s a simple way to prevent it from happening. If you add a splash of olive oil to the water as you’re cooking the pasta, that can help keep it from sticking together. A drizzle of olive oil is also great if you’re planning on storing cooked, but unsauced pasta in the refrigerator and using it for another pasta night.
3) Rinse with cold water.
Rinsing cooked pasta with cool water while it’s still in the strainer or colander is another fantastic way to keep it from sticking. So, try giving it a quick rinse after boiling.
4) Make a freezer-friendly pasta sauce.
Jarred pasta sauce is tasty, but nothing tops a batch of homemade marinara. So, for our last tip, we recommend making a big pot of sauce using garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, sugar, Italian seasoning and salt. Then, use what you need for dinner that night and store the leftover sauce in the freezer. That way, for future pasta nights, you and your family can enjoy delicious homemade sauce without spending extra time making it for every meal. All you have to do it thaw it and heat it up. You can also add browned hamburger meat for spaghetti with meat sauce - a hearty entrée that’s also a popular family favorite. You can snag the full recipe for our Homemade Freezer Spaghetti Sauce here .
Quick & Easy Pasta Dinner Recipes
Chicken Alfredo Lasagna
This pasta dinner recipe is a creamy spin on an Italian classic - lasagna. Made with bacon, cheese, lasagna noodles, a homemade alfredo sauce, as well as rotisserie chicken, it’s what we like to call “semi-homemade” since you don’t have to worry about cooking chicken. And if you want to save even more time prepping this dish, feel free to substitute the sauce with your favorite brand of jarred alfredo. Although if we can make a suggestion, our Food Lion brand sauce is pretty delicious (and affordable too). Want to make this pasta dish? Visit our recipe portal to get the step-by-step directions!
Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta
Get ready to cook up a homemade version of the cheesy boxed pasta favorite with our Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta recipe. With less than 10 ingredients and in three easy steps, you can have this quick and easy dinner recipe on the table in about 20 minutes. And since it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients to make it, this dish is also pretty low-cost too! To make it an all-in-one complete meal, simply add some vegetables to the mix. Red bell peppers and zucchini would both be scrumptious additions.
Ham & Peas Linguine
Our third recipe idea for your pasta dinner is also quick and easy to make! This creamy pasta dish is crafted with ham and peas and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. And with all of the ingredients being under $10, it’s also an affordable dinner option. To make this Ham & Peas Linguine dish, you’ll start by boiling the pasta. Then, it’s time to sauté the ham, followed by the peas. Next, mix in the sauce ingredients. Finally, strain the pasta and toss it into the pan with the protein, veggies and cream sauce. Easy peasy, right? Serve with warm bread from your neighborhood Food Lion bakery department and enjoy!
Pizza Mac and Cheese
No need to choose between pizza and pasta for dinner with this Pizza Mac and Cheese recipe! Tasty mac & cheese topped with slices of pepperoni, we recommend serving this dish with classic pizza shop toppings like:
And for a complete meal, enjoy with a fresh side salad or consider adding diced tomatoes, onion and bell pepper to this pasta recipe before baking. As you get ready for your next pasta dinner with your family, we hope our 4 cooking tips and 4 recipe ideas help make your meal prep and planning a little easier and your dish even more delicious. Now, head to your local Food Lion, pick up what you need and start cooking!