I found this recipe a few years ago, and ever since it has been a hit with our entire family. Of course, I don’t follow the recipe exactly anymore. The first few times I made it, I followed right along, but now I make my own version that barely looks like the original! Here is my version of the Kraft recipe for Chicken Vegetable Marinara:
Veggie Marinara – Serves 4 adults and 2 kids Cost: $4.50
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
3 large carrots, diagonally sliced (I was finishing up a 3lb bag I bought for 99cents, so we’ll say this was 30cents worth)
1 onion, chopped
2 peppers (I used one red and one yellow pepper, on sale for 50 cents each)
4 cups water (2 cups water and 2 cups of broth is also a great way to get move flavour!)
1-1/2 cups pasta sauce (I use half a can of reduced salt crushed tomatoes: 50cents worth)
3 cups whole wheat rotini pasta, uncooked (on sale for $1 a box!)
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices ($1.74 for 2)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add onions and carrots, cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the broth, water, tomato sauce, seasoning and pasta. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and cheese and simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables and pasta are done to you liking.
The big changes I made to this recipe are leaving out the meat. You don’t really need the bacon (I cannot believe I just wrote that!); it adds tons of fat, and I think the flavour gets lost in the sauce. If chicken breasts are on sale one week, I will include them in this recipe, but usually I leave them out as well as leaving the chicken broth out. This makes a great Thursday night dinner for us, leaving tons of leftovers for Friday, when we don’t eat meat. The best part about this dish, is that it’s all done in one pot! I love that the pasta cooks in the same pan; it absorbs the flavours and gives me one less pot to wash!
By leaving out the meat, we leave out protein. I am wondering what I could add to this to make it a little more balanced….chick peas? white beans? Something that my kids wouldn’t notice either, lol. Any suggestions?
Also, please note that the prices on these recipes will vary greatly depending on sales in your area and what you keep in your pantry. I keep lots of seasonings, oils, and things like carrots, onions, and garlic on hand at all times so I don’t price those out. But even if you pay full price for each of these items, it’s still a frugal healthy dinner 🙂