Trying to cut your family’s food budget? Pasta dishes are a great low-cost dinner option, they are easy, cheap and pretty kid-friendly too. But just because you are on a tight grocery budget, doesn’t mean you have to eat bland, boring food. Before you break out that can of pre-made tomato sauce, let me show you how to make an easy spaghetti bolognese from scratch. It is so flavorful and delicious, it doesn’t seem like a budget-meal at all!
If you are going to go the homemade route, I’d plan on making a big batch for jarring or freezing–it takes about an hour to make, but it’s so worth it. I promise!
How Do I Make Spaghetti Bolognese?
For the tomatoes, San Marzano canned whole tomatoes are popular, but may cost you a few extra dollars. For this budget-friendly recipe, we’ll just use a basic Kroger brand crushed tomato.
I like to start with cooking the ground beef first in my sauce pot, as I can get the onion, garlic, and pepper chopped while that is finishing. When the beef is just about done, drain any excess grease, then toss in your chopped vegetables.
Next add in your wine, and reduce for a couple of minutes. Then add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning. Simmer for 30 minutes, add your Parmesan and your herbs, then simmer for 30 more minutes.
I usually start my pasta right around the 2nd simmer; boil the spaghetti for about 8 minutes with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Drain and remove from heat if you have a lot of time left on your sauce to prevent from overcooking.
Upgrade: Chianti is the most common wine pairing for a bolognese. I like the idea of bringing out the flavor that is already in the sauce, so I’ll usually serve the same type or similar type that was reduced in the sauce.
Spaghetti Bolognese Cost Breakdown
Cost per 4 Servings:
Sauce $1.29 (save a little sauce for a pizza later on)
Olive oil & spices $0.10
Ground beef $2.50
Parmesan cheese $0.75
Total $5.64 (This price comes in closer to $5 when making a bigger batch of homemade sauce).
Easy Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
Because homemade sauce does take longer to cook, I make enough for 3 meals and then freeze the extra. The recipe below yields 12 servings.
- 2 lbs of ground beef
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1 C of wine (red or white--I like red, but I’ll use whatever I have on hand)
- 4 oz Parmesan cheese
- Half a bunch of parsley, or fresh basil leaves
- 2 T of Italian seasoning mix
- Salt to taste (approx. 2 tsp)
- Pepper to taste (approx. 1 tsp)
- Sugar to taste (approx 1 tsp)
- Brown ground beef first in a large sauce pot.
- Chop onion, garlic, and pepper while ground beef is cooking.
- When the beef is just about done, drain any excess grease, then toss in your chopped vegetables.
- Next add in the wine, and reduce for a couple of minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, add your Parmesan and your herbs, then simmer for 30 more minutes.
- During the 2nd simmer; in a separate pot, boil the spaghetti for about 8 minutes with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil.
- Drain and remove from heat if you have a lot of time left on your sauce to prevent from overcooking.
Making homemade bolognese sauce takes a little more time, but it is SO worth it. Plus you can make a big batch and have 2 more meals ready to go! This simple dinner recipe is flavorful and delicious – exactly how eating on a budget should be!
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