Once you have a nice stock of different pastas, you can begin to use them in new and creative ways. Why not try preparing homemade minestrone? Minestrone is a classic Italian soup that's easy to customize. It contains pasta, beans, vegetables and meat for homemade appeal you can re-create in a few minutes and on a shoestring budget.
Find a good basic recipe like the ones below that use canned tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth. Add mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, green beans (Italian green beans are wonderful in minestrone), spinach or any other family-friendly ingredients that happen to be lurking in your vegetable drawer. With a little grated Parmesan cheese on top and garlic bread on the side, you'll create a homemade meal in about as much time as it would take to prepare a packaged mix. The beauty of minestrone is that it's easy to create a robust broth from canned goods you can keep on hand. After that, just add some Italian seasoning, leftover meat and a few vegetables. Don't be shy. This dish is simple, wholesome and infinitely flexible. Try it once, and you'll be hooked.