“Toss It In” Pasta Salad – $5 Dinner Challenge

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on April 18, 2011

I was having a “what to have for lunch” moment the other day. I’ve been having salads for lunch lately. A lot of salads.  And while I love them for a variety of reasons, it was time for a change.  A salad wasn’t going to work for me, hence the “what to have for lunch” moment.

Then it occurred to me that I have quite a few boxes of pasta in my stockpile from recent sale.  I thought about making up an entire box of pasta, but that’s just a little too much for me.  And then I found a box that was half full of elbow noodles…perfect!  2 lunches worth of pasta salad…some for me to eat that day, and the rest for Steve to take for lunch the next day. (This probably could have made 3 portions for myself, or been enough for the whole family.)


Now what to put in it…I opened the produce drawers and discovered that I still had the cucumber and tomato that I’d bought the week before to make a Quinoa Taboulleh (which I still had not made. Obviously.)  And while they were not in bad shape, they certainly needed to be eaten. Soon.

So cucumbers and tomatoes it is.  And as I looked up into the rest of the fridge, my eyes fell on the ranch dressing that I mixed up with testing and fine tuning the homemade ranch dressing mix.

It was then that a little light from heaven shone down…right into my fridge. And my heart and belly leapt with joy!

Pasta with Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Ranch…maybe a little shredded cheese.

Yes, please.

(Remember, I’ve been craving ranch dressing lately!)

As we move into “Pasta Salad Season,” I urge you to try a pasta salad with ranch dressing. It’s a lovely, lovely thing.  Toss in whatever goodies you like…cukes, tomatoes, boiled egg, ham, turkey, bacon, onions, it doesn’t matter…just “Toss It In”!

Ah…now you see where I get the name. Pretty much anything that goes on a Cobb Salad will work in the pasta salad…even the lettuce!  Just let the pasta dominate, not the lettuce! ;)

And easy “one dish” lunch for you all…

What’s your favorite kind of pasta salad?!? Will you be trying any new pasta salads this summer?!

“Toss It In” Pasta Salad


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or other small shells pasta ($.25)
  • about 1/3-1/2 cup homemade ranch dressing ($.30)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced ($1)
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced ($1)
  • Couple slices turkey delimeat, chopped ($.50)
  • About 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($.67)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook the pasta as directed on the box. Drain and add to serving bowl.
  • Toss the ranch dressing in with the pasta.  Then toss in the diced tomatoes, diced cucumber (peeled if you prefer), chopped turkey and shredded cheese.
  • Serve it up!

Cost $3.72

Print This Post


Have a Frugal and Healthy Recipe to share?

Post the recipe on your blog and then add the link below. Other guidelines can be found here. To make it easy for other readers to find your recipe, please leave the link that leads directly to your recipe post. Any links that lead to your homepage will be deleted. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your recipe in the comments section!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

jen April 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm

sounds delish!


Alea April 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I love toss it in dishes. They are always an interesting mix of flavors.


Charlene April 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I just made the same thing – “Toss It In” Pasta Salad yesterday. I like to make a lot of it because my husband eats it like candy.

1 12 oz box rainbow rotini
1/2 red onion
1 cucumber
1 green pepper (a red would add some color)
black olives
shredded cheese
left over salad dressings (use up those last dribbles)
good italian dressing (or cheap italian and good italian spices)

Mix and let set with salad dressings (marinade)


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy April 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

LOVE salads like this! Can’t wait to try that homemade ranch! I typed my recipe wrong, it was supposed to be Buffalo CHICKPEA patties. Guess my fingers were going too fast!


Ellen April 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Some of my best recipes come from days like this. This sounds great and typically stuff I might have around (or something similar).


Food on the Table April 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Your pasta salad is very resourceful and I’m sure very delicious! My favorite pasta salad includes:
-olive oil
-grape tomatoes
And the real kicker of the bunch:
-crumbled feta

It’s a simple, light, and refreshing summer go-to dish!


Damsel April 19, 2011 at 8:10 am

That’s a great idea! I always have a few leftover veggies hanging around!


Erin G April 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

My favorite is with spiral rotini pasta, pepperoni bits, cubed white cheddar, chopped olives, and green pepper. Mix with a caesar Italian dressing to taste. Delicious!


Michelle April 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

This was our dinner Sunday night and my lunch yesterday. We had some leftover BBQ chicken. I added hard boiled egg, carrots, cheese, pickles, red onion, garbanzo beans, peas, a bit of mayo, and black pepper. It’s delish!


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom April 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm



Becki April 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

In the summer I add diced cooked chicken, chopped celery and madarin oranges to cooked and drained pasta. We like Miracle Whip (light) mixed in. YUM!


Becky April 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

This is my favorite pasta salad: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Moms-Best-Macaroni-Salad/Detail.aspx. Actually that is probably my 2nd favorite. Our old neighbors make the best pasta salad but they claim to not have an actual recipe, just dump a bunch of ingredients in without measuring. I can’t seem to duplicate it so I think they are holding out on me :).


Adrienne May 2, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I love meals like this, we make a lot of pasta salad in the summers. Our favorites so far are pasta salads with tomatos, pepperoni, cucumbers, diced red onions, cubed cheddar cheese, italian salad dressing and suddenly salad (found in the spices area of the grocery store), or Chicken Bacon Ranch pasta salad- cooked, cubed chicken (I always use leftovers), diced bacon, ranch dressing, chopped tomatoes,cucumber and topped with a bit of cheddar cheese if you want. I do have some new recipes I can’t wait to try, chipotle chicken pasta salad is on the top of my list!


Jackie Brown June 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I can’t wait to try this using frozen pasta, that I make in bulk and freeze for quick meals like this one. And I’m going to try the homemade dressing, too.


Tina Marie June 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

That sounds delish!

I am all about “toss it in” pasta. My friends ask for recipes and I never have one to share! LOL My fave of recent cooking is one I made for a cookout last weekend:

2 boxes pasta cooked, drained, chilled
3 avocados diced and tossed in lime juice (to prevent browning)
4 eggs hard-boiled, cooled, shelled, diced
8(ish) slices of bacon chopped (I bought pre-cooked)
1/2 onion minced
1/2 cucumber diced
1 cup(ish) of Mayo with Olive Oil
1/3 cup(ish) low far blue cheese dressing
salt & pepper
Toss it all together & serve chilled. :)

I called it Cobb Pasta Salad and it was YUMMY!


Tina Marie June 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

and cherry tomatoes. Oops! LOL


missy December 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

I need a little help making a little recipe book for christmas at the ICAP office in Kingsbury county in South Dakota


missy December 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

I need a little help making a little recipe book for christmas at the ICAP office in Kingsbury county in South Dakota .
I’m making it myself to hand out for chrismas


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: