Entrees, Salads, Vegan, Vegetarian
Comments 11

One pasta pot, three quicker-than-fast-food organic meals

5-Minute pasta supper, a homemade one-dish meal complete with veggies

Whether you’re on the run between soccer games or just too tired after a long work day to cook your usual fabulous dinner, you can feed your family a wholesome, organic, mostly fresh meal in twenty minutes or less with these three easy vegetarian/vegan meals you can prepare in 5, 10 or 20 minutes from one pot of pasta with veggies.

Keep your pantry and fridge stocked with a few ready-to-use items and you’ll throw supper (or lunch) together faster than waiting in line at the local drive-through! The best news: Your meal is more nutritious, and I’d wager, tastier too than drive-up fast food, and not nearly so fat-laden.

Plus, these meals easily translate to vegan with a few minor substitutions, all included in the recipes.

Spoiler alert: Gourmands and Italians may need to avert their eyes. This page is for busy families on the run who want to eat wholesome, organic, whole foods and need it fast.

Start by boiling the pasta just to al dente stage

Make it vegan!
You can make any of these recipes vegan with the vegan substitutions in each recipe.

Start with a pasta pot, plenty of water, and a one pound bag of organic whole wheat pasta of your choice. We like fusilli best, but we have used plain macaroni, small and large, and almost any of the smaller fun-shaped pastas.

When the pasta is nearly al dente, add the frozen vegetables and cook barely tender, till colors are bright and vibrant

When the pasta is nearly al dente, add the frozen vegetables and cook barely tender, till colors are bright and vibrant

Add two one pound bags of frozen organic vegetables. For our family, petite peas with grated carrots work best, since our littlest grandchild, who loves pasta, isn’t ready to chew big chunky vegetables yet. Bigger kids can enjoy a wider range of vegetables, so experiment with your faves. Stir-fry blends are especially tasty.

That’s the Basic Pasta Mix you can store in the fridge for up to a week. With this basic mix in your fridge, you’ve got three (or more, depending on your imagination) home-cooked fast-food meals at your fingertips, starting with a cheese-topped pasta with veggies and marinara sauce.

Too hot to cook? Try the super quick pasta salad with crunch–a favorite at our house any time, but especially in the summer when heat blazes off the sidewalk. Lastly, on a cold, wet night when the wind is blowing, nothing beats a steaming bowl of homemade soup, this one with veggies and beans. You’re limited only by what’s on hand and your imagination.

Here’s how the plan works.

Basic Pasta Mix Recipe

In this photo, you see the Basic Pasta Mix in the cooking pot, right after I added the peas and carrots. The pasta has absorbed moisture, but is not quite al dente.

Veggies and pasta, ready to drain (Save the cooking liquid in a freezer bowl for making soup stock!)

Veggies and pasta, ready to drain (Save the cooking liquid in a freezer bowl for making soup stock!)

I’ll bring the water back to simmer and heat the veggies through. By then, the pasta will be perfect, not over-cooked, still firm enough to hold up in a salad, under sauce or in soup.

Quick tip

Pour the cooking water into a large bowl or pitcher and let cool. Save this nutrient-rich water in jars and use to make soups and stews when you have more time to cook. Add a dated label so you never need guess how old it is.

Tonight, as soon as it’s ready, I’ll drain all into a colander and serve a one-cup portion to each person at that table with an herby marinara sauce, topped with our favorite grated cheese. That step-by-step recipe follows this one.

A crusty artisan bread on the side is nice, but not necessary when we’re all bone tired after a long day. It’s not a gourmet meal, but it covers all the bases: Vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates, without adding a lot of fat to our diet.

Basic pasta and veggie recipe for fast-food, home-cooked meals

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Take this basic mix from your fridge in any portion you need and stir up savory, super fast one-dish meals in five, ten or twenty minutes. Serve them simple, or doctor them up as much as time and energy allow.


  • 1 1-lb pkg. organic whole wheat fusilli or similar pasta
  • 2 1-1b. pkgs. frozen organic peas and carrots, or vegetables of your choice


  1. In pasta pot, cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In last four minutes, add the frozen veggies and continue cooking. Cook only until pasta is al dente and vegetables are nearly tender and still brightly colored.
  3. Drain the pasta and serve portions immediately with one of the following recipes or your own. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container and store for up to one week.

Throughout the rest of the week, when you need a quick luncheon salad or a hot meal, doll this basic mix up or keep it pretty much as is, depending on how much time you have. To reheat the pasta and veggies without over-cooking, place them in a strainer and dip in scalding hot water for five or ten seconds, drain and serve.
A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.

5-Minute pasta with veggies and marinara sauce

We usually dish this 5-minute pasta supper up as soon as we make the Basic Pasta Mix, but it’s an easy lunch or supper any time, especially when the grandkids are on deck. You will save even more time with a microwave, if you have one. We don’t, so I do everything on top of the stove or in the oven.

Cheese-topped pasta with veggies and marinara sauce

  • Servings: Varies, depending on how many you need
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

5-minute pasta supper with veggies and cheddar cheese

5-minute pasta supper with veggies and cheddar cheese

Out of grated Italian cheese? Don’t let that stop you! When your family is hungry, use what you have on hand. It’s all good. It’s just not Italian. The day we made this batch, we were out of our favorite hard cheese, so I used the sharp cheddar I almost always have in the cheese bin. The toddler loved it, and I was hungry enough that I didn’t miss the Italian too much.

About the cheese
We do enjoy cheeses at our house, but you can easily make this vegan with a vegan cheese substitute. Lately, we’ve enjoyed this Vegan Parma on our quick-supper pasta.


  • 1-2 C Basic Pasta Mix per person, depending on appetites
  • 2-4 T Classico Organic Tomato with Herbs and Spices Spaghetti Sauce, per person, or your favorite bottled sauce
  • 1-2 T per person grated organic Parmesan, Reggiano, or vegan cheese, per person


  1. Ladle out one cup pasta mix per plate for hearty eaters, less for small children.
  2. If pasta is plenty hot, and you are in a big hurry, you may not need to heat the spaghetti sauce. Just spoon it over the pasta, and the hot pasta will warm it enough to eat.
  3. Top with grated cheese.
  4. If pasta has been refrigerated and you are completely out of energy and time, heat the sauce and pour over the cold pasta. It will heat it nearly through, then top with the grated cheese.

Serve alone or with a crunchy salad or crudités and baguette chunks.

A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.

Next up, this super quick pasta salad

Some nights we get home and neither one of us wants to do anything but change into our comfy clothes and nosh whatever is handy. This salad fills that bill. If we’re both too tired to chop veggies, we throw a little dressing on the Basic Pasta Mix and call it good. It still beats fast food out or ordering in. What’s more, it saves our waistlines for the delectable delights we love to indulge in from time to time.

Pasta salad, ready to toss with the dressing

Pasta salad, ready to toss with the dressing

Super quick pasta salad with crunch

  • Servings: Varies, depending on how many you need
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This salad requires no cooking and is especially handy when you don’t want to heat the kitchen, even for five or ten minutes. If this is a side dish, you may not need the extra protein in cheese or beans, but if it is your lunch or supper, add one or the other or both.

In the image, you can see I’ve added red onion, celery and red bell pepper to the basic mix. I’m out of fresh herbs today, but I have some excellent dried parsley, which I will bruise and throw over the top before I toss it all with Mom’s Milky Vinegar and Sugar Dressing.

This is good from the get-go, but if you make enough for leftovers, the flavors of the spices and onion work their way through the pasta, and it gets better and better. Grab and go for an on-the-run lunch next day.


  • 1-2 C Basic Pasta Mix per person, depending on appetites
  • 1 T Chopped onion (we prefer red) per person
  • 1/4 C Chopped celery per person
  • 1/4 C Chopped fresh veggies per person (optional)
  • 1/4 C Drained canned or cooked garbanzo, kidney or black beans per person (optional)
  • 1/4 C Diced sharp cheddar or vegan cheese per person (optional)
  • Sprinkling of any fresh savory herbs you may have on hand
  • 1-2 T Bottled or homemade salad dressing of your choice, per person


  1. In large mixing bowl, ladle out one cup pasta mix per person.
  2. Add onions and celery.
  3. Add any additional chopped crunchy veggies you have on hand, such as bell peppers of any color, zuccini, broccoli, or cauliflower.
  4. Add drained garbanzo, black or kidney beans, if using.
  5. Toss in fresh herbs, if you have them, and a tablespoon of bottled or homemade dressing per cup of pasta mix.
  6. Alternatively, bruise a little dried parsley or basil in your hand and sprinkle over.
  7. Add the dressing and mix well.

Serve with baguettes or fresh fruit.

A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.

Staples to keep on hand for super quick meals

Along with frozen organic veggies in our freezer, and several varieties of cheese in our fridge, we keep organic whole grain dry pasta and glass jars of organic pasta sauce in our pantry for those times we are too busy or too tired to cook but want to stay within the range of healthier foods.

Add a baguette from your local bakery and a handful of fresh berries or sliced pears for dessert, and you have a fairly good meal.

Pasta, Veggies and Bean Soup – Serve up a hot bowl or two or three any time

Hearty veggies and bean soup

  • Servings: Varies depending on how much basic recipe you start with
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Hearty pasta, bean and veggie soup, ready in 5-10 minutes

Hearty pasta, bean and veggie soup, ready in 5-10 minutes

This amazingly fast soup is refreshing as well as comforting on a cold night when you want something quick and easy.

Don’t want to wait ten minutes for the flavors to simmer together? Go ahead. Serve as soon as it’s warm. It’s still so much better than canned.The pasta sauce brings in most of the flavor you get cooking soup from scratch.

We like a bit of ground chipotle chilis to give it a little heat. I sometimes throw in a dash of fresh or dried oregano, basil and thyme for added seasoning punch. I also add a few of any chopped or steamed vegetables I have on hand, such as broccoli, cauliflower or kale. It’s a good way to use up leftover veggies.


  • 1 C vegetable broth or reserved pasta cooking water per person
  • 1/2 C Classico Organic Tomato Basil and Herbs Spaghetti Sauce per person
  • Pinch salt per person
  • Dash Organic Chili Chipotle Ground (optional)
  • 2 T Coarsely chopped yellow onion per person
  • 1/4 C Coarsely chopped celery per person
  • 1/2 C Cooked or canned pinto, black or kidney beans per person
  • 1 C Basic Pasta Mix per person
  • Grind pepper to taste per person
  • 1 T Freshly grated cheese or vegan substitute


  1. In stock pot, bring to easy boil one to two cups vegetable broth or pasta cooking water per person.
  2. Stir in salt and spaghetti sauce.
  3. Toss in coarsely chopped onion and celery.
  4. Add cooked or canned dried pinto, black or kidney beans.
  5. Stir in pasta mix.
  6. Simmer 5-10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, grate pepper over each to taste, garnish with grated cheese (optional) and serve with torn baguette wedges, butter (vegan or regular) and jam. So good!

A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.

How many people can you feed this way?

How many quick meals can you get from one pot of pasta?

Last time I made this I counted up the number of servings we got from the basic recipe. Here’s how many meals we got from that one pot of pasta, using the recipes on this page.

  • Basic pasta mix with marinara sauce and cheese: 4 adult & 1 child servings
  • Pasta salad: 4 adult servings
  • Veggie bean and pasta soup: 4 adult servings
  • Total servings: 12 adult and 1 child servings

That is a lot of flavor, and a lot of value for our organic food dollar, let me tell you, each meal prepared in twenty minutes or less, quite often less than ten minutes.

Thank you for visiting this page

I’d love to know what you think of these dishes and whether you will try them. More importantly, I’d love to hear about your favorite home-cooked, better-than-fast-food meal. Please share it in the comments below.

♥  ♥  ♥

Dear Readers: If you think you’ve seen these recipes before, you may well have. In December 2013, as a writer on the now-defunct site Squidoo, I first published this collection under the user name graceonline. In August 2014, HubPages, where I am known as ecogranny, bought Squidoo. I opted to have my Squidoo pages, including this recipe, transferred to the new site. Now, in June 2016, I’ve brought it home–to YayYay’s Kitchen.

♥  ♥  ♥

This post is shared at Real Food Fridays #144 – Sharing a Healthier Lifestyle.


  1. HI Kathryn Grace,
    Sounds pretty darn good to me and healthy. I love the first recipe with the cheese and pasta best I think. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & tweeted!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Friday 5: Real food recipes #21 | YayYay's Kitchen

  3. Sharon L. Grace says

    The salad and soup look especially yummy! Good way to plan a few quick easy meals, though that’s a lotta pasta for the week. Could I freeze some for another time?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never had enough left over to freeze, so I can’t say how well it would do. I suspect the vegetables would shrivel a bit and get a little tough, since we started with frozen.


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