Tag Archives: Pasta Bolognese

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Pandemic version

18 Mar

Planning meals for the next 14 days was particularly challenging this time around. No frozen veggies to be found.

Well. Here we are.

We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. The novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has made its way through the world, currently hitting the United States. Week by week, day by day panic has set in nationwide as people prep for the unknown, fearing potential lockdown or shelter in place rulings in cities and states, and in some places, they are already living under that ruling. Since we are not at that point yet in our city or state, many people here are planning and stocking up for the next 14 days at a minimum, and with everyone everywhere doing that, it’s made grocery shopping and meal planning quite challenging. To add to the challenge, two of our three kids are quarantined as they were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at school, while the rest of us are not.

As I began my shopping last week, I did not go in with a specific list of items I needed for definite meals because I had already heard of the difficulty people were having at the stores, with empty shelves everywhere. Instead, I went in hoping to find two weeks’ worth of things I could make meals out of and I planned my meals on the spot as I found items in each store I went to.

Therefore, the list of meals below is what I came up with using what we had on hand at home and what I found between Aldi, Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, Target, Dave’s Market (a local RI market) Price Rite, and Whole Foods over the span of about five days’ time.

Because we are just starting our two weeks of our pandemic menu, the first few days are laid out specifically while the next many are not assigned to certain days yet, but are on deck for any night during the next two weeks.

Sunday, March 15: Corned Beef in the Instant Pot:  (We had purchased the corned beef ahead of time, so we were ready for this and chose to do it as a Sunday dinner instead of on St. Patrick’s Day.

Monday, March 16: Chicken and Steak Fajitas: using this recipe for fajita seasoning from allrecipes.com. I chose this because one store had one package left of stir fry steak and we had a few frozen chicken tenderloins left. The same store with the steak also had beautiful looking peppers, and the inspiration for a meal was made on the spot.

This was a brand new recipe we tried thanks to a friend who shared it on social media that same day.

Tuesday, March 17: Pasta with Bolognese Sauce: This was completely unexpected. I found two, one-pound packages of ground beef at one store, and I had previously stocked up on pasta from another store a few days earlier. I hadn’t decided what to do with the ground beef yet, other than maybe tacos in week two since we’d already done fajitas in week one. A friend posted photos, saying that she was making this recipe (by Giada De Laurentiis) at her house and it looked amazing. I realized I had all the ingredients at home and decided to make it that same night.

Meal options from March 18 through March 29:

4) Barbecued Pork Chops

5) Pork tenderloin with homemade applesauce

6) Steaks (What kind of steaks? I don’t even know but there were two of them left and they looked like they would be enough for our family. I knew we could figure out what they were and what we could do with them later on.)

7) A “big salad”

8) Homemade soup, most likely chicken and rice.

9) Make your own pizzas

10) Teriyaki chicken wings and legs

11) Tacos

12) Hamburgers and french fries

13) Something With Stew Meat

14) Breakfast for dinner: french toast and sausage because we had the sausage already and I finally found a couple of loaves of bread.


As I look at the categories listed as options to tag this post, a few of the ones I often use were just out the window this time around, specifically “Eating on a Budget” and “Shopping on a Budget.” I determined early on that we were “Eating What the Store Sold” and “Shopping for Whatever We Could Find No Matter What it Cost Until We Had 14 Meals For 5 People,” for the most part. Everything we make is still allergy-friendly for those with gluten and dairy allergies and they’re all relatively healthy meals.

This meal was a keeper and it was very easy to make.

I hope that all of you are safe and sound, healthy and that you all remain so.  I hope that you have good luck shopping for your own household needs over the coming days and weeks and maybe if you’ve purchased any of the same things I did, you can find some meal inspiration in this post to keep you going.



Ragu Alla Bolognese

25 Apr

A couple of years back, a new extra-special meal was introduced at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

When my kids sleep over at their Grandma and Grandpa’s house they always return with tales of all the yummy things they got to eat while they were there, and although we eat pretty well over here too, they always seem to have that extra special something at their house that makes my mouth water. It makes me want to sleep over too. Maybe next time instead of dropping off, I’ll just hang out and see if anyone notices the extra mouth to feed.

A couple of years back, they started returning with tales of a new dish they’d had and loved: Pasta Bolognese. Elizabeth especially loved it and whenever anyone asked her what her favorite meal was, she’d say “Spaghetti Bolognese.” She’d constantly request the meal at home, but the only problem was, I didn’t have “the” recipe for it and I knew it was a pretty involved recipe. The last thing I wanted was to go through all the work with the wrong recipe only to have her say, “It’s good but it’s not as good….”

Until recently we didn't even have the coveted recipe for the Pasta Bolognese, much to Elizabeth's dismay.

Recently she had to submit her favorite recipe for a troop cookbook for Girl Scouts. Her first choice: Spaghetti Bolognese. I still didn’t have it. Her second choice: Spaghetti with Lobster Sauce, also a recipe I didn’t have. Her final answer: Grandma Rose’s Famous Tuna and Spaghetti. BINGO! Finally, a recipe I had! After hearing my tale of recipe woe, my mom gave me the recipe for the Bolognese Sauce they make.

One recent rainy Sunday we decided to try it out. Don’s Kitchen opened up and he went to town cooking up the recipe. The recipe itself is one my mom got from a family friend. It turned out wonderfully! We used just one part of how much it made so we froze three batches: two for our family and one for company.

Thankfully, when we asked Elizabeth for the verdict on how it came out, she said, “It’s perfect.”


Price Rite had everything we needed to make an affordable Pasta Bolgonese meal for our last April Vacation dinner.

Ragu alla Bolognese

1 and 1/2 stalks celery

2 carrots

1/2 of a large onion

1 and 1/2lb lean ground hamburger (or you can use a mix of beef, pork and veal. We used just hamburger our first time.)

3/4 stick butter

2 cans kitchen ready tomatoes (28 oz.)

2 cans beef broth, 2 cans water

6 TBS. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

optional: 1/2 cup red wine

The longest part of this recipe is just the simmering. The rest cooks up fast and easy.


Dice celery, carrots and onion very fine. (Don used the food processor.)

Brown lean meat in butter and oil. Add vegetables to meat.

Put tomatoes through the blender. Add to mixture.

Add beef broth and water, salt and pepper.

Allow sauce to come to a boil and then simmer on low heat for two hours uncovered or more.

You can skim oil off the top when done.

Option: you can add heavy cream or half and half at the end if desired, for more of a pink vodka sauce.

Makes 5 meals for two with two pounds of meat.

Does that not make your mouth water?? You know what? It was even better the second day!