How to Save Time and Money Cooking Pasta

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Save Time Cooking Pasta

One of my favorite kitchen memories as a child was my mother’s spaghetti and meatballs.

My mother worked full-time following my parents’ unfortunate divorce, and so convenience foods and fast food were not entirely unknown around our dinner table.

However, there were some classic home-cooked meals that my mom turned out for us — one of them being her spaghetti.

She would let the sauce simmer all day and then would let us kids test it.  We would get a slice of bread (sadly, it was white and store-bought) with a ladle-full of homemade sauce on it.  Mmmm–mmmmm.

Now, I still love pasta, but one thing that I have never liked is the amount of time it takes to wait for that huge pot of water to boil.

So when I found this tip for cooking pasta I was thrilled.

In a number of other posts I have mentioned Lorna Sass.  Well, this tip also comes from her now out-of-print cookbook, Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen.

So here’s how to save time and money cooking pasta.

Turns out that that huge pot of water is totally unnecessary!

Voila!

You have just saved:

  • Time - you didn’t have to wait as long for the water to boil
  • Money - saved on energy and water usage

(And this tip just in from a reader:  To save more energy, but not time, just turn off the heat once you add the pasta and keep a lid on it.  Add about 5 minutes to your regular cooking time and check for doneness.  Sounds great for a day when you are not in a hurry!)

Hungry for more time and money saving kitchen tips?

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Do you have a great time or money saving tip to share?

Or how about a kitchen challenge?  I’m currently working on a few suggested by readers this past month :-).

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  1. Thanks, will have to try this method! I use pasta a lot in the summer, as it’s the perfect base for using up random vegetables and homemade dressing.

  2. Jennifer says:

    You also don’t need to keep boiling the water after you add the pasta. Just stir, put a lid on it, turn off the heat and check for doneness when the package cooking time is up. It will add maybe 5 minutes. You don’t save time but you save all the energy it takes for your stove top to rapidly boil that pot for 10-15 minutes and the money you spent to do that. :)

  3. What a great tip! :0) Very helpful! I can’t wait to try this.

  4. Thanks for joining our Frugal Tuesday Tip! http://juliecache.com/2011/06/20/frugal-tuesday-tip-22/.html I have been a BIG FAN of small pots and no boiling for a while. Great tip. Join next week if you can!

  5. Does this work just as well with gluten-free pasta?

    • Yes, it does. Of course, a lot of gluten free pastas are kind of “gummy” anyway, so those would be especially problematic. That aside, it will work!

  6. Thanks for linking this great tip with the Hearth n Soul blog hop.

  7. We love pasta and will have to give this a try!

  8. great tip!

  9. What a great tip. I’ll have to try it.

    I’d love it if you’d like this post to my Making a Home linky. :)

    Linda @ Linda’s Lunacy
    http://www.lindaslunacy.blogspot.com

  10. Hi Adrienne,
    This is a very informative post and a great review. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and I look forward to seeing you again real soon.
    Have a great week end!
    Miz Helen

  11. Well, I’m such a pasta-freak, I’m going to try this. Thanks for linking to Food on Fridays!

  12. this is what we are doing! :) but i am adding a little bit of oil to the water. great post as always! have a great weekend!

  13. Well, this certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? I don’t usually use a gigantic pot but downsizing wouldn’t hurt, right? I’m here from Heavenly Homemakers! Beautiful blog!

    Becky B.
    http://www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

  14. Yes, the amount of water the package tells you to use usually is excessive! Another advantage to using less is that it’s not so heavy when you drain it.

    Another money/energy-saving idea is to use the heat from your boiling water for something else. For example, you can steam spinach when you drain the pasta. In winter, I sometimes put the colander on another pot and then keep the drained water standing in the kitchen so that the heat and moisture go into our household air instead of down the drain. I have a tall pasta pot that came with a vegetable steamer that fits in the top–you can cook the pasta and the veggies at the same time, on one burner! Then you lift out the steamer with pot holders before draining the pasta.

  15. Interesting tip. I use a pretty large pot, but not huge. I would worry about the pasta sticking together. With spaghetti I find that I have to stir it really well at the beginning so I don’t end up with several strands lumped together. If Lorna recommends it though, I’m willing to give it a try. :)
    I save time on heating water by using an electric teapot. It heats the water quite quickly.

  16. Love this post and love saving time in the kitchen! Along the pasta lines, Tupperware has a new pasta cooker for in the microwave that comes out this fall. As a Tupperware consultant, I got to demo this product this summer and it is fantastic (and not just because it’s Tupperware). You cook and strain all in the same container and it’s all done in the microwave which means you use less energy AND less time! http://www.tuppylove.com Or email me to get an email when it’s available mkoshary@gmail.com

  17. Hi Adriene, I like your blog and have learnt a lot of useful tips.

    I’ve been using this method for a while — add pasta to the boiling water, turn off the heat when spaphetti starts to be able to bent or pasta becomes soft a bit and put the lid on. Make sure water is boiling and the recommended cooking time will be the time (very close) you required to leave the lid on. To avoid pasta sticking together, I find stirring the pasta well before draining work better than stirring them at the beginning.

    If you plan to have left over for lunch tomorrow, like me, to save time, try to coat the pasta with just enough sauce (save the rest of sauce separately). Next morning, reheat the sauce and add enough to the pasta. Or add enough sauce to the pasta and heat them up at the same time. I find this way, the pasta will not absorbed the sauce overnight and becomes dry. Also the pasta will not stick together. Hope this helps busy moms.

    • Elisa – this is great! Thank you! I too have been stirring and I should add that to the post. Also, if you add some olive oil to the pasta after it cooks it will help it not stick together. Thanks!

  18. Thanks for this great tip. My husband always gives me a hard time because I use tiny pots of water to cook a lot of noodles. Now I can tell him I’m not the only one who does this, and there is nothing wrong with it!! I love the tip about turning the heat off and covering the pot with a lid while it continues cooking. I will give that a try. Thank you!! I have heard of adding olive oil to left over noodles that you are so they don’t stick together when you put them in the fridge. PS I hopped over here after reading your post on The Better Mom.

  19. duh?! how true and how simple! thanks!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  20. You can start with cold water to ease the stickiness. You can also use the “thick” pasta water as an excellent thickener for sauces.

    You should check out this link from someone who went all out on testing this idea… http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/dining/25curi.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all She even got a couple top chefs to test and give their input.

  21. I think my note wasn’t clear… add the pasta to the cold water (instead of boiling) and bring to a boil like that. :)