Dollar Store Recipes: Pasta with Cream Sauce

This is a post by new staff writer Pamela Britton-Baer, whose mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip top shape. 

It happens suddenly and out of the blue. You wake up one morning and head into work only to be told you don’t have a job anymore. Call it downsized, laid off, furloughed or whatever you want. It happens – it happened to my family.

My fellow writer Julie Bawden-Davis wrote a great blog about surviving on no income. I would recommend it to those facing this situation. What I’d like to share now is how to make your dollars stretch when it comes to feeding your family.

Recently, one of my readers asked if I thought it was possible to feed my family on $1.50 a day. I’m always up for a challenge so I took up the gauntlet. This reader only gets $47 a month in food stamps, so I divided $47 by the average number of days in a month – 30, which equates to $11.75 a week.

So, let’s start with a basic shopping list for a few dollar store recipes. These are my staples:

  Grocery List

I bought almost everything on this list, excluding the tomato sauce and the flour, but adding a can of tuna, for $9.13. I happen to have tomato sauce and flour in my cupboard so no sense in spending extra money. But as you can see, it would have been no problem purchasing those items and still spending less than $11.75.

Right off the top of my head, looking at this list, I see a few easy meals to make:

Pasta with a creamy tomato sauce
Mac N Cheese
Breakfast burritos using homemade tortillas
Scrambled eggs and cheese

I’ll be sharing with you how to make all the above meals – plus more – for pennies on the dollar. Here’s the first versatile recipe I’ll share with you, which can be switched up to make a multitude of other meals.

Pasta with a Cream Sauce


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and boil three handfuls of egg noodles. While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce.


1 tbsp of butter
½ cup of chopped onion
1 clove of minced garlic
2 tbsps of flour
2 cups of milk (I actually like half-and-half, but I’m trying to keep this healthy. Still, for a creamier sauce, use half-and-half or real cream.)
1 cups of grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper


Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large pan. Add onions and garlic, and brown for three to five minutes or until the onion is soft. Add in the flour. Stir it around until it looks gooey and unappetizing, but trust me, it all works out at the end. Add in the two cups of milk and cheese. Stir until thick and bubbling. Salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it, easy!

Now, you can either pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and bake until it’s a gooey, creamy mess, or you can add in some tuna and make this a tuna casserole. If you have a can of peas add that in too. Either way, I like to reserve some shredded cheese and sprinkle that over the top.

If you want, you could skip the cheese entirely. Use the same recipe above and substitute a cup of tomato sauce for the grated cheese. This will create a creamy tomato sauce that’s to die for.

The above meal will feed a family of three. If you’re all on your own, you’ll get more bang for your buck by using only a portion of the ingredients. I’ve found that making things stretch is the key to surviving in this crazy economy. The grocery list can be used to create multiple meals.

Stay tuned for even more yummy, yet economical, recipes.