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A plate full of spaghetti Bolognese

Low-Budget Spaghetti Ingredients to Make a 5-Star Meal

Even the most inexperienced cook is familiar with spaghetti ingredients. After all, this dish is one of the staples of the Pinoy dining table. It appears in quick solo meals, big birthday celebrations, and everything in between.

The beauty of this beloved dish is that you can upgrade it with fancy components or keep it simple with budget-friendly spaghetti ingredients, and the result will always be comforting. Make subtle changes to your spaghetti and find the middle ground between creative and classic.

Add Fish

A glass bowl full of tuna chunks from a can

Are you tired of the usual ground meat? Choose fish instead! Affordable and convenient options include bottled sardines, tuyo flakes, and canned tuna.

If you opt for the bottled-fish variety, try adding some of the oil it comes with to boost your spaghetti's flavor. Creamy pasta lover? Don't worry. Drain the oil and just toss these ingredients in with your cream sauce.

Using canned tuna is a bit simpler. Go for tomato-based if you're concocting a red sauce or the olive-oil type if you're more into that pasta style. Add a little salt and pepper to keep the fishy flavor from dominating the dish.

Play It Safe with Hotdogs

Red hotdogs cooking on a griddle

Cut-up hotdogs define Pinoy-style spaghetti. Not only are they affordable protein alternatives, but they add some heartiness into your dish – not to mention they're a hit with the little ones.

The limitation of hotdogs in your pasta? They often go well with heavier red or white sauces. Cook the hotdogs in a pan, then slice them into little pieces. (Doing the reverse might dry up your franks.) The chewiness of this kid-friendly spaghetti ingredient will pair nicely with your al dente noodles.

Cough Up Some Corned Beef

Who doesn't love corned beef in their dishes? Not many people use corned beef in their spaghetti but make no mistake. Add it is a delicious and satisfying revision to a classic.

Corned beef works best with tomato sauces. The acidity of the latter can cut the beef's rich taste while the meat adds heartiness to the tomato flavor. Use chunky corned beef if you have it. Enrich the texture of every bite further with bell peppers and caramelized onions for a smokier taste.

If you are in a hurry, you can choose a premade spaghetti sauce. Pick the Pinoy-style variant, which is sweeter and goes better with corned beef.

Mix in Some Mushrooms

A wooden bowl full of button mushrooms

While mushrooms are always an option no matter what type of spaghetti you’re making, you can also choose to make it the highlight of the dish if you’d like to skip putting in meat.

Portobello mushrooms are best for this dish, although mixing several different kinds is something you can consider doing as well. Don’t forget that preparation can vary according to the specific type of mushroom, so do your research first to avoid under- or overcooking them.

Mushrooms are great when paired with a light cream sauce, although they’re still good with tomato-based spaghetti sauce.

More Tips and Tricks to Cooking Great Spaghetti

Sometimes, it's about making the most of what you have. Your spaghetti ingredients may not instantly scream five-star, but well-cooked components will compensate for the cheap price tag.

Start with your pasta.

Adding salt to the pasta water is a crucial step, but it’s one that some people unfortunately tend to skip. Since pasta noodles comprise flour and water, they don’t have much flavor on their own. They absorb some of the saltiness from the water, giving your dish an extra layer of flavor.

How much salt should you put in? To cook 500g of pasta, use five liters of water, which should have 50g of salt.

Iodized table salt typically has a metallic flavor that won't translate well to your pasta. Kosher or sea salt is preferrable.

Don't forget to season.

If you’re going with the traditional meat-based spaghetti sauce, remember to simmer it long to allow the flavors of all the ingredients to mix well. For best results, use two Knorr Pork Broth Cubes for 500g of ground pork, which is enough for 400g of spaghetti noodles.

Remember, it's not about the cost of your spaghetti ingredients. It's ultimately about the final flavor. Want to serve a hearty dish alongside your dish? Try pairing it with a serving of egg sandwich or corned beef sisig salad.

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