A knowledge I carry from New York is that it is infamous for being outrageously costly. It doesn’t matter what you are buying, nothing is cheaper in NYC. So how do people afford such a high cost of living? You might first think of an increase in wages. Well, that’s only partially true. With rents ranging anywhere from $”cheap” to $500,000 per month, a higher salary will only get you so far. This brings me to the most important thing after housing: FOOD.
As a New Yorker, I learned how to cut my costs while eating the best food available. Oddly enough, one of my favorite ways is through my pasta sauce. Pasta in general is pretty low cost, but the sauce is a whole other story. Even looking at the cheapest sauce, it’s about $4.00 for a mere 16 ounces. And not to mention, it’s full of preservatives, added sugar, and ingredients I can’t even define. So I save money and my health by making sauces at home.
Reducing the amounts of already prepared foods like take-out, pasta sauces, cups of coffees and teas, and juices, can drastically reduce throwing away your money and greatly increase your belly’s happiness. So even if you are a person who “never cooks” or “never has time,” making your own sauce and packing your own pasta is one super simple way to save hundreds of dollars per month.
Chances are, your office has a microwave, toaster oven, or heating device. Even if you have to search for it, I’m sure you can find it. Once you locate it, think about how it can save you money, time, and make you healthier.
“With this heating device, I thee wed…delicious homemade foods.”
Pasta was, is, and probably will always remain my “go-to-lunch-option.” I brought it in high school, I carried it to my first job, and I ate it all through college. I continue to carry it to work even in big ‘ol fancy New York City. It’s easy, quick, delicious, cheap, and believe it or not: Healthy!! With options like Lentil, Black Bean, Whole Wheat, Homemade, Veggie, Fresh, and Organic, there are an abundance of flavors and nutritional options available.
You can opt for sauces like pesto, alfredo, butter, curry, anything! I often go for the traditional tomato-based sauce, if I’m going to make something in bulk. It’s the easiest with the greatest output and probably the cheapest. Plus! It’s so so so delicious.
For my non-tomato-based sauces, I generally follow recipes I find online.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Lemon, Basil, Garlic Pesto Sauce (I always personalize this by leaving out the Parmesan cheese and Pine Nuts. I like to toss this one with Ziti.)
- Coconut Curry Sauce (For this sauce, you can keep all the ingredients and toss it with beautiful fresh linguine. I usually omit the chicken and potato! It’s so delicious!)
- Parmesan Alfredo Sauce (This isn’t the healthiest option, but it is awesome. AWE-SOME. I like to use this as a variation of Mac ‘n Cheese.)
- Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce (I absolutely love tossing this with Penne and Fresh Organic Veggies I find at Farmer’s Markets around the city.)
Now, on to my favorite: Homemade Tomato-Based Sauce
I’m going to promote Whole Foods Market now.
“But didn’t you say we were doing this to save money?”
“Yes! Yes, trust me!! Keep reading!”
Let’s Get Cookin’
Ingredients* For ~90 Ounces and $15:
- Organic Tomato Sauce ($1.69)
- Organic Diced Tomatoes ($2.29)
- Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes ($2.29)
- Two Large Organic White Onions (~$3.00)
- 1 g each of Fresh Organic Basil, Rosemary, and Tarragon (all total ~$2.50)
- One bulb Organic Garlic (~$0.75)
- Four Organic Shallots (~$2.00)
- 2 tbs Fresh Black Pepper Corns; 1 tbs Sea Salt (If you don’t already have them, this amount probably costs ~$0.30)
*The costs of the fresh produce will vary as it is mostly sold by weight.
This is where things get messy!
Step 1. Open the cans and pour the contents into a large pot (14 qt. size is good) that has a lid. Use a little water to get the remaining contents out of the cans. This also adds a little volume to your sauce. Heat over medium heat.
Step 2. Peel and cut the two large white onions in half. Place the four pieces into the large pot of sauce. Now, put the lid on the pot and move onto Step 3!
Step 3. Peel and chop 4 shallots and one bulb of garlic. Set aside.
Step 4. Doll out sufficient portions of fresh Basil, Rosemary, and Tarragon. I never measure my fresh herbs because honestly I don’t think you can have too much. However, a good guideline would be 1 g of each fresh herb. Set them aside.
Step 5. Heat 2 tbsp organic Olive Oil in a medium sized skillet.
Step 6. Do the “water test” and drop a teeny tiny drop of water into the skillet to be sure the oil is hot enough. Once water test approved, saute the chopped garlic and shallots until golden. Turn off the heat. With the skillet still on the heated field, sprinkle the fresh herbs over the golden mixture. Place a lid over the skillet and set aside.
Step 7. Grind the black pepper. Add the pepper and salt to the sauce. Add the sauteed mixture and cover the pot.
Step 8. Simmer over low-medium heat for 25 minutes, once all ingredients have been added. And keep it covered!
Step 9. Remove from heat. Remove all the portions of the White Onions and either discard or use for something else. You can keep them and use them for the next steps, but I always use them for other things.
Step 10. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes, unless you have a Food Processor that can safely handle the high temperature.
Step 11. Ladle portions into a Food Processor and blend until smooth.
Step 12. Jar It Up!
If you want to be sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste, follow these guidelines to assure your success is preserved!
You now have a hoard of pasta sauce and you did it all yourself!