These freezer pasta meals 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 and 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.
Make Your Own Freezer Pasta Meals
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. As an alternative, 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.
Freeze the Pasta on a Sheet Pan
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.
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.
Make Portable Pasta Lunch Packets
I used zippable sandwich bags and small 2-oz. cups w/lids like these to package up the 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!
Update: I found it just as easy to add the sauce containers to the ziplock bags and that saves an extra step in the morning.
Making Sauce For the Microwavable Lunches
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 provides a much larger 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.
Lightly massage the 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.
- (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.
Advantages Of Meal Prepping
Meal prepping has become very popular and for a good reason. It’s one of those things that takes some work up front, but then you get rewarded every time its mealtime! I wanted to take a second to explain why it’s a good idea to consider meal planning and how it can benefit you. Take a look:
- Saving money is number one. First and foremost, you will save money when your meal plan because you won’t be tempted to hit the drive-through instead of eating at home. Eating out costs so much money, and you can have wholesome good meals right at home with little effort to warm it up.
- Meal prepping can reduce stress later. While you may have a day that you spend hours in the kitchen prepping, that will seem easy on those nights when you need something fast. Imagine going to the freezer and pulling out a meal that just needs heated up and minimal work from you. You’ll notice much less stress from cooking.
- When you meal prep, you can keep portion control in mind. This is great when you are trying to drop a few pounds or save even more money. You’re less likely to overeat when you have your portion already figured out. If you happen to be still hungry, you can munch on some veggies instead.
- You won’t have as many unnecessary purchases. If you go to the store with a list in hand and a plan, you’re less likely to buy a bunch of extra stuff. You’ll know that the convince of meal prepping outways the expense of junk food at the store.
- You won’t believe how much time you save. Ball games in the evening, piano lessons, and whatever else creeps up doesn’t have to end in you spending hours in the kitchen too. Most meal prep foods can be quickly microwaved or warmed in the oven, just like my microwave pasta.
Who Should Meal Prep?
Anyone can meal prep. Whether you have a large family and are trying to get your food organized or if you live by yourself. Meal prepping is the perfect way to save you time and energy.
That’s what’s so great about my microwavable pasta; you can just grab what you want and have an easy, effortless lunch. Heck, try this for a quick 5 minute dinner before you head out of the door for “second shift!” You know the hours from 3pm-10pm when you are running like crazy!
Can I Add Meat To The Microwavable Pasta Sauce?
Yes, absolutely, you can add meat if you want. Keep in mind that the price will increase a little once you add some meat in, but as inexpensive as it is to make, it’s not a huge deal. Try adding some of the following to the pasta sauce.
- Chicken – Cook and dice some juicy chicken and add it to the pasta sauce. You’ll be amazed by how delicious it is and that it makes the meal even more filling.
- Ground Beef – Brown up a batch of hamburger, and you can either mix it with the pasta sauce or put it in individual containers. If you opt for an individual container, just grab one and warm it up with the pasta and sauce end enjoy!
- Sausage – I love the flavor of sausage with my pasta. It’s just so good, so it makes sense to brown it up and freeze it too.
- Biggest tip here is to grab some meat when it is on sale to keep the price down. Also look for the soon to expire meats (be careful!) and see if you score a deal there!
- When using meat, try to use a tad less than you normally would. You can use leftover ⅓ pound of ground beef instead of a full pound to your pasta sauce. You still have a punch of protein without using a full pound of meat!
Is It Okay To Add Vegetables To The Pasta Sauce?
Oh, yes, you can for sure add some veggies to the pasta sauce if you want to. This is a wonderful way to add some extra nutrients and flavor if you want. Try some of these ideas:
- Mushrooms – If you love mushrooms, it just makes sense to add a few into the mix. So good and hearty.
- Olives – Okay, so I know they aren’t exactly a vegetable, but they add lots of yummy flavors and look pretty too.
- Carrots – They give the sauce a sweetness that’s not overbearing. Plus, you’re adding valuable vitamins and minerals to the dish.
- Peppers – Chop up some green bell peppers for a hint of flavor. Before adding them to the sauce saute them with a little bit of olive oil, so they aren’t too crunchy or toss them in the sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Onions – Dice up some onions and soften them by simmering the sauce. They give you a boost of flavor and nutrients too.
- Tomatoes – For the tomato-based sauce, it makes sense to have some hearty tomatoes in it too. Use a can of petite diced and add them in. You’ll love how they taste!
Need more freezer cooking ideas? Once a Month Meals has lots of ready-to-go freezer menu plans (Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Paleo, Instant Pot and more) and lets you customize your own menu plan.