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

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

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 10 minutes

Cooking Time – 0 minutes


  • 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