One Pot Creamy Spaghetti
I received a really nice comment from a reader of another cheap dinner recipe I shared some time ago:
You may not realize it, but these kind of simple comments are like fuel in the gas tank for someone like me! I love sharing recipes, thoughts, and ideas with you and always hope it’s helpful in your daily life. I’m a busy working mom and if I can help any one of you who are in the same boat find some simple solutions for common life stuff (like, “what’s for dinner?!”), then I feel like we’re winning!
So, that comment made me want to write more simple, super cheap, and very easy dinner recipes. This one takes the cake! Well, except that there is no actual cake involved. 🙂 (Don’t be sad… if you want cake, here you go!)
One Pot Creamy Spaghetti is absolutely the easiest and cheapest meal I make and I’ve made it hundreds of times.
Thank You Notes to Cream Cheese
Dear Cream Cheese,
Thank you for…
Nope. I’m going to stop right there because I am NOT funny enough to pull this off! I’ll leave the ‘thank you notes’ writing to Jimmy Fallon. But I will say that I am a huge cream cheese fan. It makes (almost) everything better. That includes spaghetti!
Some years back I caught a Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial where they suggested mixing cream cheese into spaghetti sauce. At the time I was a vegetarian and loved the idea of a quick fix spaghetti dinner without meat sauce. Now, I’m mostly a fan because skipping the meat in a spaghetti dinner saves probably at least $3.99, and probably more.
It all begins with the sauce. I suggest you use your favorite 24 ounce jar of marinara sauce, but I’m a fan of this one from Aldi:
This pasta sauce is great! I would say the flavor is comparable to Prego. At my Aldi store in Ohio, this sauce is usually $0.99 a jar. I think the most I’ve paid is $1.19 a jar.
In the One Pot Creamy Spaghetti recipe, you’ll combine the pasta sauce, cream cheese, and grated Parmesan cheese (the kind that comes in a can, not fresh) in the same pot you cooked the spaghetti in, then simmer on low until the cream cheese is soft.
Once the cream cheese is softened, I use a whisk to mix the sauce well. It does take a couple minutes of whisking to work all of the cream cheese into the sauce. Finally, I pour the cooked pasta (I like angel hair) back into the pot and use tongs or a spaghetti spoon to mix well until the pasta is completely coated in the creamy sauce.
It baffles me the the expected side for a plate of carb-filled spaghetti is bread, but who am I to argue? I love the fresh baked Italian bread near the bakery section at my local Kroger store. For $1.25 a loaf, it’s a win!
If you prefer crisp, buttery garlic bread, it’s easy to make! Just slice the Italian bread loaf in half lengthwise, melt a stick of butter in a microwave safe bowl, stir some grated Parmesan cheese and garlic powder into the melted butter, spread the butter mixture generously onto the bread using a pastry brush, then bake the bread at 350 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Easy!
My favorite veggie to serve with One Pot Creamy Spaghetti is French style green beans. I go the very simple route and toss a bag of these frozen green beans into a pot on the stove, add two tablespoons of butter and a dash of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then cook over medium-low heat until hot. I usually start the green beans first and they cook while I prep the spaghetti.
Break It Down
The whole pot of spaghetti costs just $3.45 to make! It’s 8 servings, so that is $0.43 per serving.
Now, that is obviously an incredibly cheap dinner, but I have a few thoughts before I give you my final price breakdown:
- The One Pot Creamy Spaghetti alone is not a meal. You’ll of course want to serve sides with it, which is why I’ve figured green beans and bread into the final price per serving.
- You may also want to serve a fresh green salad with this meal. I did not include a salad in the final price per serving.
- Full disclosure: I used fresh parsley in the pictures to make the dish look pretty. I did not factor the price of the parsley in to the final cost per serving. I will tell you the whole bunch of parsley cost me $0.89 at Kroger and I used just a pinch.
- Now, here’s the kicker: the spaghetti recipe makes 8 servings, but I figured two servings per person in the final price. That means you can feed everyone at your table TWO full servings of spaghetti or have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. This is not a skimpy portion to save money!
Angel hair pasta (1 box) – $1.00 at Kroger
Marinara sauce (1 jar) – $0.99 at Aldi
Cream cheese (1 block) – $1.00 at Kroger
Grated Parmesan cheese (1/3 cup) – $2.29 for one can at Aldi; $0.46 worth used for this recipe
Italian bread (1 loaf) – $1.25 at Kroger
French cut green beans (1 bag) – $1.00 at Kroger
Butter (2 tablespoons) – $2.99 a pound at Aldi; $0.19 worth used for this recipe
Dinner total: $5.89
Dinner total per person: $1.47
Again, that total is for the whole dinner including two servings of One Pot Creamy Spaghetti, fresh Italian bread, and a serving of green beans.
Working Mom Magic
The best part of this meal to me is that it’s ready to eat in under 30 minutes! After a long day of work, sometimes fixing dinner for the family can make me want to cry. It’s like the straw that breaks the working mom camel’s back. But this dinner is a snap!
Two whole pots to clean up (one for spaghetti and one for green beans)? I can do that. Have a kiddo set the table with paper plates and you’re well on your way to almost no dishes. 🙂
- 16 ounce box spaghetti (or angel hair)
- 8 ounce block cream cheese, cubed
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
1. In a large pot, cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions just until al dente. Drain the pasta in a collandar and set aside.
2. Pour the marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, and cream cheese into the pot and heat on low for 5 minutes until the cream cheese is soft. *I recommend using a lid or splatter screen to prevent the sauce from splattering all over your stove.
3. Once the cream cheese is soft, use a whisk to stir the sauce until completely combined (may take a minute or two).
4. Pour the cooked spaghetti into the sauce and use tongs or a spaghetti spoon to stir well until the pasta is completely coated in the sauce.
- Fresh parsley
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Serving Size: 8
- Calories: 367
- Sugar: 7
- Sodium: 514
- Fat: 13
- Saturated Fat: 6
- Unsaturated Fat: 4
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 50
- Protein: 12
- Cholesterol: 37