Chunky Bolognese Sauce ($5 Dinner Challenge)

Chunky Bolognese Sauce |

I have been itching to make a Bolognese Sauce ever since Jamie emailed me her recipe during the Pantry Staples contest.  I dug out the last of the bacon from the freezer, grabbed a few cans from the pantry, and pulled out the ground beef and veggies from this past week’s grocery trip. I decided to double up and make 2 batches, as I found I had plenty to do so.  And thought this would be perfect to have the week of Thanksgiving…when I’ll be too busy preparing for our feast!

It’s all about being resourceful with this recipe!

A basic bolognese sauce includes beef, pancetta (bacon for us budget chefs), onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, broth, wine and milk.   As you’ll see below I left out a few ingredients, and added diced tomatoes to give it some chunk.  And you really wouldn’t  know the difference.

The bacon brought a new flavor to the sauce, as did the shredded carrots.

The sauce was perfect. And I’m so glad that I doubled up and made an extra batch!

Here we go…

First up, create a pile of orange shreds.

Next, create a pile or purple dices.

Then, create a pile of green celery chunks.

Onto the cooking…

Cook the bacon slices in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.

Set aside on paper towel to drain.  Then chop or crumble. (Good thing my Dad got some paper towels for himself us last week.)

In the same Dutch oven, saute the carrot shreds, onion and celery in the bacon grease. (If that’s not your thing, then drain the grease and add some olive oil. But you’ll lose a little of the bacon flavor in doing so.)

After the carrots have sauteed for 5 minutes or so, add the ground beef and brown with the veggies.

Mix it all together and finish browning the beef.

Once browned, add the 2 cans of diced tomatoes with their  juices, plus the 2 cans of tomato paste plus 3 cans worth of water.

Stir it up.

Add the crumbled bacon and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Any longer than that, cover it.

(Be sure and take a stroll around the house and smell the aroma that’s filled the air.)

Chunky. Bolognese Sauce.

While you could just eat the sauce itself, some noodles might help.  And love the fact that these are $.50/lb. box of whole wheat spaghetti :)

Perfectly balanced and colorful dinner.

Beautiful bubbly bolognese sauce.

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Chunky Bolognese Sauce

Yield – 8 servings of sauce / 4 servings for the actual meal

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 45 minutes


  • 3 carrot sticks, peeled and grated ($.30)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped ($.35)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped ($.10)
  • 4 slices bacon ($.80) From the freezer
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed ($.10)
  • 1.25 lb. ground beef ($1.98) On sale for $1.59/lb this week
  • 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes ($.48) $.24 each after sale, promotion and coupon
  • 2 6 oz cans tomato paste ($.38) $.19 each after $1 coupon
  • 1  Tbsp Italian seasonings ($.10)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti noodles ($.50)
  • 1 box frozen spinach ($.25) After sale and $1 coupon


  1. Peel and grate carrots, chop red onion and celery.
  2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon.  Then set aside on paper towels and crush/chop.
  3. In the same saucepan, saute all the veggies with the crushed garlic for 5 minutes.  Add the ground beef and brown.
  4. Once browned, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and about 3 tomato paste cans worth of water.  Stir in the bacon and the Italian seasonings.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes. (Cover if you simmer longer.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook noodles and spinach as directed on package.
  6. Serve Chunky Bolognese Sauce over noodles with side of spinach.

Cost $5.34 with doubled sauce!

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  1. says

    carrots? that’s an interested ingredient, but I’m definitely all over it! I doubt my boyfriend would even notice, especially if I told him there was bacon in it 😉

  2. says

    I also have never made a bolognese sauce. Will have to give it a try. Cost of ground beef here in northern Minnesota is a lot more. Looks interesting. In my pile to give a try. thanks

  3. Rhonda says

    I made this for dinner tonight! I LOVED IT. My girls wouldn’t touch it. (1.5 and almost 4) They love pasta as much as I do so I have no idea why they wouldn’t touch it. Probably because I added a package of chopped spinach. This recipe is great!

  4. says

    I just made this tonight….it was DELICIOUS!!
    My three year old kept saying “mmm, yum” over and over as she taking her bites. It was so funny and we sure know how she felt about this great recipe!
    Thanks for sharing, we plan to make this again and again!

  5. Julie says

    I’m making all my recipes this week from your blog, starting with this one tonight. But I’m incredibly jealous of your prices! I didn’t think I lived in such an expensive city, but there’s no way ANY of my ingredients were as cheap as yours! :(

    Still, this recipe looks awesome – healthy and hearty. I’ll add a few mushrooms and a splash of red wine to it.

  6. Julie says

    After dinner update:

    This recipe is DELICIOUS! I used fresh herbs instead of the dried Italian seasonings (flat leaf parsley, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, plus dried basil) and added some mushrooms. I cooked it longer than you said, since I like it thicker, and added shredded aged gouda on top. My husband and I really enjoyed it on this cold February day (well, it’s California, so 65 and sunny! :) ). There was enough for us for dinner, for lunch tomorrow, and two more servings frozen. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  7. Katrina says

    If I have a recipe that calls for coed bacon, I chop it before cooking. Cooks quicker and it’s all set when it’s done.


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