Healthy family meals on a budget!
New Zealand's Easiest Family Recipes
Serving healthy food to your family is challenging, especially when you are on a low budget. We have low cost meals for people on a budget with cost saving ideas and budget recipes. They are all healthy eating ideas and are cheap to prepare. Change the recipes to suit your family's tastes and the ingredients you have. Cutting costs on food doesn't mean you have to cut on quality. It's still possible to prepare meals that not only taste great, but are also good for you.
Pasta - how to cook pasta!

We all know what pasta is. What we don't all know is how to cook it properly. The first mistake people make when cooking pasta is the size of the pan to use. Pasta needs a lot of space to move around in while it cooks. If it doesn't have this space, then there is a good chance that the pasta will stick together or to the sides of the pan, with disastrous consequences for the finished dish.


1 packet of your favourite pasta (penne, spaghetti, rigatoni, fettuccine, macaroni)
1 tablespoon oil (for cooking)
1 tablespoon oil (for tossing)
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Fill the largest pot you have with water.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
  3. Place it on the cooker top. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn the knob to high.
  5. When the water starts bubbling up at the surface (the technical term for this is "boiling"), add up to a handful of salt anywhere. Most Americans do not add salt, whereas Italians add about a handful.
  6. Dump the container of pasta into the pot.
  7. Agitate it slightly with a long serving spoon, preferable one with slots or holes in it.
  8. Keep your eye on it as it continues to boil and stir it just enough to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom every 1-2 minutes.
  9. When it's been boiling for about 10 minutes (check the package for suggested cooking time), take a piece of the pasta out and taste it.
  10. If it's too hard to bite or tastes funny when you bite it, it needs to cook a little longer. Also, if you see white in the center, your pasta needs to cook a little longer.
  11. When it's chewy but firm in the center, it's ready. This is referred to as al dente in Italian.
  12. Empty the entire pot of pasta into a colander.
  13. Shake out the excess water and then pour back into the pot.
  14. Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Toss.
  15. Cover with your favorite sauce and shake it (inside the hot pot).
  16. Serve it!
  • Use plenty of water. The most common cause of "sticky" pasta is cooking with too little water. Use at least 4 quarts of water for each pound of pasta(4 liters for each one-half kilogram). No oil or other additives are required.
  • Add salt to the water. Salt enhances the pasta's flavor and allows the sauce flavors to "blend" better.
  • Add some of the pasta water to your sauce. If you're making your own sauce, add a bit of the water used to cook the pasta if you need to adjust it's thickness. The dissolved starches will thicken and enrich it's texture. Note that the "right" amount varies according to recipe, batch size and preference.
  • Italians adopt a "leave it alone" or "don't mess with it" policy when cooking pasta. Don't agitate or stir it too much. This goes for the sauce as well.
  • Different pastas cook for varying times. Thin linguine, for example, cooks much faster than rigatoni.
  • For a hotter boil, cover your pot. Just be sure to remove it once you put the pasta in.
  • When your pasta is ready, the outer edges will begin to lighten in color.
  • Some people prefer to rinse their pasta in the colander to wash away the starches. Do not do this! In addition to the sauce adhering better because of the starch, if you rinse it, you will be cooling the pasta before you add the sauce. Instead, drain the pasta, add it back into the pot you cooked it, turn on the heat and add the sauce, stirring until well-mixed and hot. The pasta will be thoroughly coated by the sauce and the pasta will stay hot when you serve it.
  • If you make spaghetti and they are not submerged at beginning, do not break them. Wait 30 seconds and gently use your fork to bend them and submerge them.
  • I'm sure you've heard the old wives tale that if it sticks to the ceiling, it's done cooking. This isn't true. A barely cooked piece of pasta can still stick to your ceiling.(It actually depends on what kind of material your ceiling is made out of).
If the bubbles look like they're about to spill out of the pot, lower the heat to medium-high.
Never add anything to reduce this. This may be prevented by shaking.
When emptying the pasta into the boiling water, do it slowly so the hot water doesn't splash out of the pot and burn you.
Healthy family meals on a budget!