Frugal Eating: Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce

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After rent, groceries are one of the biggest expenses we have in a month. I have menu planned for a long time in order to save money, but we aren’t good at strictly sticking to it and end up doubling our grocery bill with unplanned purchases. Now that we are saving money with “gazelle intensity” (thanks Dave Ramsey) we are a lot more motivated to cook from scratch and stick to a menu!

I start by updating a pantry list. This is basically going through the cupboards and writing down everything we have. I try to plan meals based on those ingredients so we have to buy as little as possible. Then I write down my list, separate it by store, and write it in the order the aisles are in the store. My coworkers laugh at me when I make my list at work because I am so particular about it, but it saves a lot of time IN the store, and I hate grocery shopping! I also try to write down the prices of the items to I have a ballpark budget. I love that I can look up the exact price for almost everything on the Sam’s Club app.

This week we spent $40 at Sam’s and less than $10 at Hy Vee. We also spent $4.88 for a Soda Stream flavor at Best Buy. That may not seem extremely frugal for some families of 3, but that is almost 1/3 of our regular budget! And thats IF we stuck to the budget! So that equals a huge savings for us.

We had two packages of spaghetti left, so I planned Tomato Vodka Pasta for two meals. This is my husband and daughter’s FAVORITE way to eat pasta, so they were ecstatic. I find the sauce a little sweet, because I prefer spicy, but it is tasty.


This is a pretty frugal recipe. I buy most of the ingredients at Sam’s Club, so I can make at least two batches from the ingredients. The entire recipe – spaghetti included – can be made for under $4 per batch, so thats less than $1 per serving. One batch of sauce will usually go with about 1.5 lbs of spaghetti noodles.

My not-so-helpful assistant chefs

I used Hawkeye vodka that I also purchased at Sam’s. While it works well in the sauce I wouldn’t recommend drinking it. Its pretty skunky. And you’ll feel pretty skunky if you drink it. Don’t ask me how I know.

blog1If you really want to make this decadent, replace the milk with some heavy cream or the cream from coconut milk. To make this completely vegan use 1/3 C of nutritional yeast instead of the 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce
Serves 5
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194 calories
10 g
12 g
4 g
4 g
2 g
276 g
312 g
7 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194
Calories from Fat 35
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 12mg
Sodium 312mg
Total Carbohydrates 10g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 7g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 48 oz crushed tomatoes
  2. 1 C vodka
  3. 1 t thyme
  4. 1 t basil
  5. 3 T sugar
  6. 1 C almond milk
  7. 1/2 C shredded cheese
  1. Add crushed tomatoes to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add vodka, thyme, basil, and sugar. Stir and then simmer for 30 minutes. Add milk, and store til heated through. Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese. Serve over warm pasta.
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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is newly single, a mom, soon to be grandma and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.



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