Better in Bulk: Three easy pasta recipes beyond the Prego

The average price of pasta is about $1.26 per pound, and it is an easy food to incorporate in to many different dishes for all types of meals. (Creative Commons Archive)

Pasta is one of those products you buy the massive bag at Costco because it’s simple to make and inexpensive. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of pasta is about $1.26 per pound. That’s all well and good, until you get half way through your giant bag of carbohydrates and run out of ideas for what to do with it.

Well here’s the secret to making the most of your pasta: venture outside of the Prego. Putting a canned tomato sauce on your pasta is not the only option.

Here are a few easy recipe ideas to get you thinking outside of the box and to keep you from getting bored of this tried-and-true staple. For each of these recipes, a generic brand of penne pasta was used, but you easily substitute and use whatever kind of noodles you have on hand.

Greek Pasta Salad (adapted from Just a Taste)

What you’ll need:

2 1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta

1 cup red wine vinaigrette

2/3 cup sliced red onions

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup diced cucumber

3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

What to do:

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packaging. Drain and let it cool to room temperature.

2. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and add the vegetables, olives and cheese.

3. Pour dressing over the salad and mix until combined. Refrigerate for about two hours before serving.

Balsamic Mushroom Pasta (adapted from Girl Gone Gourmet)

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups uncooked pasta

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup shallot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves minced

8 ounces mushroom, sliced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup cream

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt & pepper

What to do:

1. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Begin the mushroom sauce while the pasta is cooking.

2. In a large pan, melt one tablespoon butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Once melted, add shallots and garlic and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms and toss them, coating them in the sauce. Let them brown in the pan for about eight minutes, tossing every so often.

4. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Mix in the second teaspoon of butter. Cook all together for a few minutes, then remove from heat.

5. Pour in cream and parmesan and continue to stir. Then, add the pasta noodles and toss to combine. Sprinkle with parsley and extra parmesan cheese to serve.

Simple Baked Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Rachel Cooks)

What you’ll need:

4 cups uncooked pasta

4 cups extra sharp shredded cheese

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

Salt & pepper

2 cups low-fat milk

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking dish or pan. Cook pasta as directed on packaging.

2. While pasta is cooking, combine 2 1/2 cups of cheese with all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Then combine this mixture with the hot pasta and pour into the greased pan.

3. Pour milk over the pasta, topping with the remainder of the cheese. Spread butter across the top of the cheese.

4. Bake for 45 minutes until firm and golden brown.

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!