Penne Pasta with Sweet Sausage and Basil Sauce – $5 Dinner Challenge

When I got home from Atlanta this week, I had to quickly jump back into reality.  I came home to 6 piles of laundry that needed to be taken care of, a sink full of dishes, a weekend’s worth of meals to be made (thankfully I’d already made 2 for next week!), and the prospect of having to regroup again for next week’s trip to Chicago and Minneapolis! (I’d love to meet you if you live in Chicago or Mpls!)

I needed easy.  I needed something I didn’t have to think too much about. And I needed something from the stockpile.

  • Pasta from the pantry. Check.
  • Chicken Sausage from the Freezer. Check.
  • Tomato sauce from the pantry. Check.
  • Seasonings from the cupboard. Check.
  • Brussels Sprouts from the freezer. Check.

Simple enough.

(And I did add the last of the shredded parmesan cheese from the freezer onto to Steve’s plate…which is in the picture above. The rest of us did not have cheese with our pasta…and it was perfectly fine without it!)

(But don’t worry…that’s not all Steve ate…he had 3 plates worth.)

Everyone loved this meal, except Tyler. He has recently discovered the art of throwing  his food on the ground and giggling. And he takes everything…even his beloved beans…and drops it all to the floor. Just to be sure that gravity is still working, I suppose!


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Penne Pasta with Sweet Sausage and Basil Sauce


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($.10)
  • 1 lb. sausage links, diced ($2.49)
  • 2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce ($.66) $.33 each at Walgreens
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves ($.05)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. penne pasta ($.29) Details on how I got that price
  • Optional: Couple pinchfuls of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag Brussels sprouts ($.99)


  • In a large skillet, add the olive oil.  Add the diced sausage pieces and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until begin to brown.  Stir often. (I was using a fully cooked chicken sausage.  If you use an uncooked sausage, then be sure to cook it all the way through before adding in the sauce.)
  • Once browned, stir in the tomato sauce and add the basil leaves and salt and pepper.
  • While the sausage is browning, cook the pasta as directed on the package. Drain and return to the pot.
  • Pour the sausage and basil sauce over the pasta and toss.  Toss with shredded or grated parmesan cheese if desired.
  • Cook the brussels sprouts as directed on the bag.
  • Serve Penne Pasta with Sweet Sausage and Basil Sauce, and a side of Brussels sprouts or other veggie.

Cost $4.58

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  1. M says

    OK, this is a dumb question – but I’m curious and I will admit I really don’t know anything about buying sausage. If I go to the refrigerated meat section at Kroger will I find it called sweet chicken sausage on the package? What does it look like? Also, I’m curious about how “un-healthy” it is on the scale of meats – is chicken sausage any better for you than other other kinds of sausage? Does it contain MSG? Thanks!

  2. JWizzle says

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that any recipe that uses penne is always ten times better than basic spaghetti noodles. :)

  3. Jodi B says

    I love brussel sprouts also. My husband and son don’t like them. I buy them just for myself sometimes! I guess most people would buy ice cream or oreos. Not me. I love my veggies!


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