How to Save Time and Money Cooking Pasta

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!


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. 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! Or email me to get an email when it’s available

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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… She even got a couple top chefs to test and give their input.

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