What to Do with Half Full Boxes of Pasta?!

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on October 6, 2011

I always end up with just a little bit of pasta left in each box. We usually need about 12 oz. of pasta to feed our family dinner…leaving 3-4 oz. in the box.

So the other night I decided just to combine a few of the different varieties…and boy did the little people get a kick out of it!  (Note: I did combine varieties with the same cooking times.)

What do you do with the leftover pasta noodles in the box?

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

mary w October 6, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I generally limit the variety of shapes/sizes of pasta I buy. Makes it easier to combine. Also use partial boxes in soups.

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In Lieu of Preschool October 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Cute idea! We never have leftover uncooked pasta because I always cook the whole box. We use what we need for that night’s dinner and the leftovers get recreated during the week for quick lunches — I add different sauces or cheese or sometimes the kids like to just eat them plain.

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Lauren N October 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I remember my mom doing this. When I do it, my husband thinks I’m crazy. But I think it’s definitely a great solution for using them up.

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Stacy Yarrington October 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I like to drive my husband crazy and combine pasta every once in awhile, too, since we usually eat 3/4 of a box every meal. He went to Italy for a few years, so it’s kind of criminal. I even combine pasta with different cooking times by adding them at different intervals.

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danielle October 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

love the different intervals idea! lol

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karen October 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

now im thinking about a chili mac idea. still have some elbow noodles. probably alot healthier than the hamburger helper stuff.

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Traci L Rupard October 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I do this often n use some to add to the hamburger helper! They never give u enough in tthose boxes ffor a familly of 4!

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Nancy Robinson October 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

Me too! Not only do I save Xtra pasta for Hamburger Helper, but if you notice, any boxed or FROZEN premade meals never have enough pasta. So I have a small clear plastic container in my cabinet with plastic bags of different pasta, either left over, or the original that the mix came with (when I have enough of those, I use them in a recipe or same one when there is finally enough!)

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Free~! October 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm

My family is smaller and I use half a pack for our dinner. I just use the other half a pack next time I make pasta. A good idea would be to make lunch for 1. In fact I’m about to eat leftover spaghetti now.

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Lou Ann October 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I do the same thing. I mean it is pasta just in different shapes and sizes. I normally like the twisted pasted, but occassionally I have other types that are left over and it is easy to throw it all in a pot and make pasta salad out of it or macorni and cheese. I agree making home made beef and mac is better than Hamburger Helper. It is just that Hamburger Helper is more convienient, but it is full of salt and not enough servings if you have a family.

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Stacey October 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I do something similar with leftover breakfast cereals: cheerios, rice krispys, puffed wheat, chex-type cereals, etc (nothing with “flakes”). I combine them all, melt some butter & marshmallows & then stir in the cereal. My kids like “crazy krispy bars” much better than standard rice krispy bars. And nothing goes stale in the pantry!

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Wanda October 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

Thank you for the idea…..I am always throwing out stale cereal but not anymore thanks to this idea. We will be making “crazy krispy bars” real soon!

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Denise October 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Im making chili today and what I had leftover in boxes went in. That or soup. We are a family of 7, so it doesnt happen a lot :)

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Lynda October 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

No problem having half-full boxes of pasta, the solutions are easy. You can add some of the pasta to soups, you can gather different boxes to mix together. I do transfer the uncooked pasta to zippered plastic bags so the pasta doesn’t get stale.

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LuAnn October 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm

*lol* I’m trying to remember the last time my family left ANYTHING in the box!

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Karen October 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I conbine them – (and secretly love it) and tend to get different types so I can “combine them (and sometimes don’t even wait to “use it up …

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Jan October 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Really we always cook the whole box- leftovers for the next day!

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Sarah K. October 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Sometimes I used up ends of boxes in one dish (usually with an interval addition method) – but only when I’m desperate. Many of my box ‘ends’ end up in our craft box (in baggies). My DD LOVES adding them to her craft projects! I also keep one half-full “ends” box for her to play cooking with. She puts them into an extra pot, stirs them with a spoon and makes “mac-n-cheese” as a side-dish for dinner. Plus, they are really easy to pick up off the floor when they spill!

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Darlene in North GA October 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm

My daughter used to create partial boxes of pasta and noodle. She was fond of heating some chicken broth/stock and putting some noodles in for a private bowl of “chicken noodle soup”. She moved out 2 years ago and every now and then, I’ll come upon a partial box that she put back into my food storage and I’m just now finding it.

Normally, I will cook a whole box (even with just me here alone now) and then freeze the rest or use it for another meal. When I find partial boxes, I will toss them into the pot depending on cooking time. Longer cooking first and then lesser cooking according to how much time is left.

And the times I have left-over dried pasta, I will put it in a zip bag and tear off the cooking instructions and put that in the bag, too. That way, there’s no guessing at how long that particular pasta/noodle needs to cook.

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Shannon October 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Ummm, up until this point I just pour my boxes into a pasta jar, use what I need and the rest is combined with the next box. So boring compared to your idea. Soon though I’ll be cooking up small bits and mashing into lightly textured meals for littlest gosling in my life.

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Wendy October 7, 2011 at 1:37 am

My daughter just made her first pot of chicken soup this week and finished off the box of elbow macaroni I had used that same day for mac-n-cheese. I remember my mother mixing types together, but I don’t buy that many different types myself. Yet, it does make the eating more interesting.

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B October 7, 2011 at 7:07 am

I will cook it all. Bag it in quart baggies and freeze it for later use. I then will partially thaw it and use it in my crock pot buffalo chicken pasta, or my crock pot pizza~it doesn’t get soggy if you partially thaw it.
Sometimes, I’ll just add it to another pasta and use it as a filler in another meal.

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Wanda October 7, 2011 at 8:17 am

Being a family of three we always have this problem! My family has finally gotten use to the mix and doesn’t mind as long as the end product is good.

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Mary Mac October 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

We are the same way here. Always ending up with not quite enough noodles left for a recipe. Luckily, one of my boys loves to eat noodles w/butter as a snack. Or we just mix all the boxes of noodles from time to time for the family!

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Anne October 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

When I make Hamburger Helper I ALWAYS add more pasta. I also usually add vegetables chopped small, e.g. tomatoes, onion, broccoli (leftover), corn. Makes me feel like its homemade (if only in my own mind!).

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Marina October 7, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Hmm, I never have this problem because I just use the whole box and have the leftover for lunch! However, spaghetti (broken into small pieces) or vermicelli are good cooked with rice, saute in butter first then add the rice and liquid and it comes out like rice a roni.

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Paula October 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I have a recipe for cavatini that actually calls for 3 different shapes of pasta, whichever you choose. It’s delicious!

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Muriah Summer October 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I use those bits to make lunches for my husband to feed the little one while I’m at work. If I don’t prep anything, Daddy uusually goes for chicken nuggets. I try to put aside leftovers, but if I’m short, noodles with cheese and broccoli or carrots goes over well.

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Annmarie W. October 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Fun idea! You could probably use the extra pasta in soups, too. We never have that “extra pasta” issue because I store our pasta in glass canisters and just refill as needed.

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Jessi @ Quirky Cookery November 3, 2011 at 4:14 am

I always end up with lots of little bits of pasta. I usually just wait until I buy more and keep combining boxes (or canisters), but this seems like more fun.

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