Budget-Saving Quick Pasta Bolognese

Budget-Saving Quick Pasta Bolognese
Budget-Saving Quick Pasta Bolognese

By Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor of EatingWell

So here we are in January--it's cold outside and yet we're trying not to crank the thermostat too high inside because the holiday bills are coming due and suddenly we're not feeling all that flush. (Guess we'll have to keep wearing those Christmas sweaters to stay warm.)

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I'm also feeling the effects of overindulgence in December (OK, to be honest, overindulgence that started the day after Halloween when everyone brought their leftover candy to work). I wouldn't go so far as to call it a resolution, but I definitely want to get back to eating more mindfully this month.

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You might think the combination of needing to save money, eat healthfully and get warmed up would be hard to satisfy with just one recipe, but this Quick Pasta Bolognese developed by the EatingWell Test Kitchen manages to do all three. With budget-friendly pasta and just a half pound of lean ground beef, it comes in at under $2 per serving. (Slimming side note: a hollow, airy kind of pasta like rigatoni or penne, which are bigger in volume than spaghetti, trick your brain into thinking you're eating more, so in the end you'll eat more "volume" but fewer calories.) And for that small amount of money, everyone gets a plateful of filling pasta topped with meaty sauce that's packed with vegetables (carrots, celery, tomatoes) providing health-boosting vitamins A and C, zinc, iron and more. All that--and it's ready in 40 minutes.

Quick Pasta Bolognese
Makes: 4 servings, 1 cup pasta & about 1 cup sauce each
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 40 minutes
To make ahead: Refrigerate the sauce (Steps 1 & 3) for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Cost per serving: under $2

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces whole-wheat rigatoni or penne (about 3 cups)
8 ounces lean (93% or leaner) ground beef
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain.
3. Add beef to the vegetables and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine and cook until almost evaporated, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and nutmeg; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in salt and pepper. Serve the pasta with the sauce.

Per serving: 414 calories; 10 g fat (3 g sat, 5 g mono); 43 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 26 g protein; 7 g fiber; 522 mg sodium; 709 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (118% daily value), Vitamin C (39% dv), Zinc (33% dv), Iron (24% dv), Potassium (21% dv), Magnesium (19% dv).

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What quick pasta dish do you make when you're sticking to a budget?

By Wendy Ruopp

Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.

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