Cooking with pasta doesn't have to mean cooking Italian. Think about that ultimate comfort food: macaroni and cheese. With a little imagination and a few additions, you can move this family favorite from side dish to main course. Before baking, simply stir in some diced ham and chopped broccoli, crumbled Italian sausage and roasted red peppers or whatever leftovers are in your fridge. You can also go meatless and use all those leftover veggies in your fridge or freezer, too. Check out this Creamy Cheese and Macaroni recipe for some other healthy additions.
If you favor the box-type mac and cheese, brown a pound of ground beef, turkey or whatever meat you prefer with some chopped onions while the pasta cooks. Make the macaroni and cheese according to the directions on the box, drain the ground meat and stir the two together for a fast and cheap kid-pleaser.
Find more great budget-trimming meals and ideas on the next page.