Homemade Pasta Sauce: Simple, Quick, and Cheap!

posted by Andrea | 07/14/2011

Pasta is one of my favorite quick, easy, frugal, and family-friendly meal ideas — we eat it at least once a week! And I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of store-bought pasta sauce from a jar or can.

I absolutely LOVE homemade pasta sauce, but there is no way I would ever have time to make it from scratch every week — that would kind-of defeat my “quick” and “easy” meal idea too!

I think my mom must have felt the same way, because growing up, she always made her own pasta sauce — but the recipe {if you can really even call this a recipe} is SOOOO simple, quick, and cheap.

Honestly, you can make this homemade-tasting sauce in the time it takes to boil your noodles!

Oh and my “recipe” only has 3 ingredients:

  • Tomato Paste {one 6 oz. can}
  • Spaghetti Sauce Mix {one 1. 37 oz package}
  • Water {1.5 – 2 cups, depending on how thick you like your sauce}


Of course you can add other ingredients to make it even more home-made tasting.

Here are some that I regularly add:

  • 1/2 lb cooked ground beef or ground turkey
  • chopped onions
  • diced tomatoes
  • sliced mushrooms
  • your favorite Italian seasonings
  • minced garlic
  • fresh herbs

The directions are almost as simple as the ingredients:

Mix the paste, seasoning mix, water, and any other add-ins in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, you can simply let it simmer on low until your pasta is ready.

If you like thinner sauce, just add more water; and if you prefer thicker sauce like we do, let it simmer for a little longer.

And the best part — your kitchen will smell like you’ve been cooking all day!


I use this basic recipe for pretty much every pasta dish I make with red sauce — lasagna, ziti, spaghetti casserole, manicotti, pizza casserole, and more. It is so versatile and it honestly tastes like you’ve slaved away all day long making sauce from scratch.


This recipe makes more than one 20-oz. jar of pasta sauce from the store and costs less than $1.00 if you stick to the basic ingredients.

You can easily double or triple this recipe and it freezes wonderfully — can’t get much easier than that!

What is your favorite pasta dish?

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly, recipes!


Filed under: Food

Leave a comment


  1. Mary Lynn


    Quick question (I’m reading so many of your archived posts!) What do you typically freeze your pasta sauce in (plastic containers or something else?)


    Andrea Reply:

    I rarely freeze it anymore because we eat a full batch fast enough 🙂 But when I did, I just used a plastic food storage container.

    Happy Archive reading!


  2. Emma


    Wow! Thanks you for sharing…. I never knew about the spaghetti sauce spice packet. We made a great family friendly sauce and went nicely with some mild Italian sasauge. Thanks again!


  3. Cyndi Lamica


    How long would you say this freezes for if I don’t use any special add ons except onions?


  4. Lisa the Farm Lady


    The cheapest and tastiest sauce I’ve been making for several years involves 1 can plain crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup (or so…to your taste) white sugar, a pinch black pepper and garlic powder, a pinch of dried thyme and two healthy pinches of dried basil. Or use several leaves of fresh basil while simmering and then pick them out. This takes about ten minutes to warm through.
    Add your choice of cooked ground meat and ta-da! Pasta sauce that tastes made from scratch!
    I use the plain crushed tomatoes instead of premade cans of spaghetti sauce because the premade sauces have a lot of salt added to them.
    This recipe makes for a sweet Bolognese-style sauce, in case anybody’s wondering. 🙂


  5. sheila


    great help


  6. Guest Post: Thrifty Ways to Spice Up Your Pasta Dinner | RecipeLionBlog


    […] recipes for a basic tomato-based pasta sauce floating around there on the web. Some use a little as 3 ingredients where others are are more involved. The cheapest way to make a delicious homemade sauce that works […]

  7. LogoVida


    This is so lowbrow, but it really is good! So convenient to have in the pantry instead of all those jars. Less expensive. too. My favorite secret spice in this is a pinch of ground cloves. Yum.