Dinner Plans: Tomato Sauce

Make 3 Delicious Meals From 1 Batch of Tomato Sauce

Pan of tomato sauce with ladle, close-up
Brian Yarvin / Getty Images
In This Article

What’s for dinner? That’s always the question on a busy weeknight, isn't it? The trick is how to get interesting, delicious meals on the table for your family. Second Servings is a realistic plan to put in a few hours of work (planning, shopping, and prepping) and get a big head start on your week.


Watch how easy it is to make your own marinara

Game Plan

Prep Time: 2 hours

  1. Make a double batch of tomato sauce (about 10 quarts) and serve the first portion in a comforting cheesy pasta bake.
  2. Divide the remainder into two portions, store in the refrigerator, and use to make two more dinners—cabbage rolls and basil-infused pasta e fagioli with white beans—to pair with sides and serve for dinners or pack up for lunches.
  3. Organize ingredients for dinners 2 and 3.
  4. Rinse, prep, and cut the produce for the rest of the meals if there is time.

Prep Day

This is the casserole everyone wants to dig their fork into after a long weekend of chores or fun sports: Cheesy Rigatoni Bake with Simple Tomato Sauce. Round it out with green beans or sauteed leafy greens.

Rigatoni Bake
Rigatoni Bake. Photo: Diana Rattray

Prep Day Tips

  • Make two batches of tomato sauce (about 10 quarts).
  • For a smoother sauce, use tomato puree or canned diced tomatoes without no citric acid (this prevents the tomatoes from cooking down completely).
  • Divide between three sealable containers. Use one for prep day dinner, label 2 of them, and store in the refrigerator.
  • Organize ingredients for meals 2 and 3. Prep cabbage ingredients for rolling. Rinse herbs. Pare and cut vegetables.

Dinner Two

Make this tangy, filling Stuffed Cabbage Roll recipe with some of your reserved sauce. It takes about a half hour to roll these up. Let the kids help.

Cabbage Rolls
The Spruce

Stuffed Cabbage Prep Tips

  • Replace the canned tomato sauce, tomatoes, and water in the recipe with 3 cups of your tomato sauce.
  • Freeze a whole head of cabbage overnight. Take it out in the morning and allow several hours to thaw. The leaves will peel off easily and will be flexible enough to stuff with no pre-cooking required.
  • If the cabbage leaf ribs are very thick, trim them down with a paring knife to make rolling easier.
  • The meat isn't cooked ahead of time, so try to use very lean ground beef (85% or leaner) to avoid the excess fat.
  • Serving suggestion: serve with a side of thick sliced pumpernickel bread, salted butter and German potato salad.

Dinner Three

Your homemade sauce is the secret ingredient for this filling and pretty Pasta e Fagioli with White Beans and Basil. Put a dish of olives on the table with crusty bread for a nice weeknight dinner without much cleanup.

Pasta fagioli - a vegetarian Italian pasta and beans dish
Jennifer Levy / Getty Images.

Pasta e Fagioli Tips

  • Make this recipe using a cup of your homemade sauce.
  • Substitute any type of bean or chunky pasta shape.
  • Make this entire dish on prep day and freeze into dinner or lunch size portions.
  • Sprinkle with fresh, grated Parmesan cheese for extra depth of flavor.

Essential Info

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