I’m a fan of easy freezer cooking recipes, convenience and inexpensive meals. So I combined all of these qualities and turned them into a metaphorical super soldier of sorts and came up with this:
Yep, the price you see is indeed accurate. These freezable pasta lunches come in at just $0.24 per serving. Not only are they insanely inexpensive (can you even buy a pack of gum for $0.25?), they offer convenience and endless possibilities for variety to spice up your work lunches.
Do the work once and you’ll be able to fill your freezer with over three weeks worth of tasty lunches to bring to work.This was music to my husband’s ears, since he was getting pretty tired of taking leftovers or sandwiches to work every day. My husband takes these to work a few times per week, and since writing this post, I’ve also used this as a side for dinner. Super versatile.
Here’s how to make your own:
Cook the pasta in a salted pot of boiling water until al dente. I cooked up two boxes of pasta, so I needed two pots. Or you can just skip the extra effort and use a large stock pot. Then drain.
Stir drained pasta with olive oil to prevent sticking. I used a little over 1 tsp. of Olive Oil for each box of pasta.
Place pasta in an even layer on a cookie sheet. I used one cookie sheet per box of cooked pasta. My pasta overlapped a bit, so I had to snap a handful of pieces apart once frozen.
Place in the freezer for two hours. If you have a small freezer like me, use a small wire shelf from the dollar store to be able to freeze two sheets at once.
While the pasta is freezing, mix together your sauce and let it cool completely before packaging up. You’ll see two types of sauce in this post, but since I way over estimated how much I needed, I’m only accounting for the cost of one sauce – the broccoli alfredo sauce.
Recipe to come soon for the broccoli alfredo sauce.
UPDATE: The broccoli alfredo sauce recipe has been posted.
Remove the frozen pasta from the freezer and transfer to a large bowl. If some of your pieces are frozen together, gently snap them apart. I opted to mix my pastas together even though they were different varieties.
Tip: Larger pastas are easier to freeze and less likely to stick together. If some of them do stick together, it’s a lot easier to snap them apart than a smaller pasta.
I used zippable sandwich bags and small 2-oz. cups w/lids like these to package up my pasta lunches. If you prefer not to use the cups, you can freeze your sauce in ice cube trays. Since most ice cube trays hold 1-oz. per cube, you’ll need to use two ice cubes for each bag of pasta.
It’s important to work quickly when packaging up your pasta so it doesn’t thaw.Place one cup of pasta into each bag. Try to remove as much air as possible from each bag, fold over once if your bags are large enough and seal. Place them into the freezer immediately.
Then package up your sauce cups. Each cup holds two ounces. I just used a regular spoon to scoop in my sauce. Place lids on cups and transfer to the freezer.
** if you’re using an ice cube tray for your sauce, you’ll have to add the frozen cubes to the bags of pasta later.
I’m storing my pasta in a basket on the top shelf of my freezer and just sliding in the cups in the leftover space on the side. Super easy to grab and go!
Now, About the Sauce
I know I touched on it above, but I’ll explain a bit more about my choice for the sauce. The reason I chose the the little cups to store the sauce was because I wanted my husband to have some variety with his lunch each day.
Keeping the sauce separate from the pasta allows me to save leftover sauce from our dinners in the cups and add it to our sauce stash. This allows for a much greater variety than if the sauce was packaged together with the pasta. He can just choose the sauce he’s in the mood for, grab the pasta, and go.
This is just an easy way to break up the monotony of essentially eating the same thing for lunch a few times each week.
Straight from the freezer:
Lightly massage bag of pasta to break apart any pieces that are frozen together. Place pasta in microwave safe bowl. Remove frozen sauce from cup and place directly over the pasta (if you’re using sauce from ice cube trays, use 2 cubes of sauce). Microwave for 90 seconds. Then mix thoroughly, ensuring all pasta is covered in the sauce. Place back in microwave for 30 seconds. Let sit for one minute before removing from microwave.
*Microwave times may vary according to your microwave’s wattage.
Place pasta in microwavable bowl, mix sauce and pasta together and microwave for one minute or until thoroughly heated through.
- (2) boxes of pasta: $2
- Broccoli Alfredo Sauce: $2
- Olive oil: $0.11
- Total cost: $4.11
- Cost per packet: $0.24
I knew they were going to be inexpensive, but I was happily surprised to see that the cost per serving is just $0.24. To date, this is probably one of the cheapest freezer meal recipes I’ve posted. Though, my $0.59 freezer smoothie packets do come pretty close.