We’re-All-Just-Doing-Our-Best Pasta

I am so tired of cooking. 

I normally prepare most of the meals for my family, but since the option of going out to eat has been removed it feels a thousand times more exhausting to feed Tony and myself… and I’m only making food for him once a day! I also feel the need to use up everything that we’ve scavenged from the grocery store so I’ve been making some weird food combos. For example, I bought rice and beans, since they last a long time and would sustain our lives if that were all we had to eat. Tony ordered an Omaha Steak package that included jumbo hot dogs. So for a couple of very strange-for-us meals we ate rice, beans, and cut up hot dogs. Eating right now isn’t normal and that’s 100% okay. It won’t last forever and a couple meals of cut up hot dogs is life-sustaining, which outweighs the sodium and nitrates at this time, especially since hot dogs aren’t normally on our menu.

I did find a meal that’s been very satisfying and comforting and is super quick to make that I wanted to share with you. 

We bought a giant tube? Roll? I’m not sure what to call a five-pound log of ground beef… that we separated into three parts and stuck in the freezer so that it’d be in more manageable portions. We also panic-bought a metric ton of pasta, and I threw a vegetable of every color into the cart during the last grocery trip. 

Tonight I scavenged my pantry and freezer to come up with this meal, which was very satisfying and tasty. 

Jen Lyman, New Leaf Nutrition's dietitian, standing in the kitchen typing on her laptop

We’re-All-Just-Doing-Our-Best Pasta


  • Oil or butter
  • 1 diced onion (or a couple shallots)
  • 5 cloves minced garlic 
  • 2 finely diced zucchinis (or yellow squash or eggplant or asparagus. Listen, just chop up some of the vegetables that are in the back of your fridge starting to go bad into really tiny pieces. It’ll be fine; we’re just trying to add a little extra fiber)
  • Like 2-ish pounds of meat (I used ground beef tonight but next time I’ll probably use chicken breasts since that’s what’s in my freezer)
  • Box of pasta 
  • Jar of red pasta sauce (marinara, meat sauce, vodka sauce, doesn’t matter)
  • Head of broccoli (we’re gunna roast this, so it could be cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets, green beans, leeks, whatever makes you happy. Again, we’re just looking to add more fiber)


  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut up your broccoli, drizzle oil over it, add whatever seasonings you like, and toss it in the oven on a baking sheet. This will cook for like 20 minutes or so. For me, it’s done when the rest of my meal is done whether it’s ready or not because I’m hungry. 
  2. Heat the biggest skillet you have over medium heat. Add a little oil or butter, onion, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about three minutes. 
  3. Add the zucchini and ground meat to the skillet. Cook until the meat is browned and no pink remains. 
  4. While the meat is browning, fill a large pot with water and put it over high heat until the water starts to boil. When the water boils, add the box of pasta and cook per the instructions on the box. 
  5. After the meat has browned, add the jar of pasta sauce to the skillet of meat and vegetables. Simmer the sauce until it’s thickened or until the pasta is done. 
  6. Serve the sauce over the noodles and put the roasted vegetables on top of that. Maybe add some cheese if you want to. 

This recipe makes about 5-6 servings for us, but that can change depending on how hungry we are. It’s hard to estimate the macronutrient distribution and calories on this meal since every time I make it I put in different things, but we don’t need an exact count to identify that it has nutritional value. It has a good portion of protein, fiber, and carbs, which means it’ll be filling and satisfying. Since we don’t have as much control over our food right now it’s a great time to practice identifying and responding to hunger and fullness cues! If you’re having a tough time with food due to overeating from stress or boredom, or if you don’t know where to start to make the next best food choice, send us a message and we’d be really happy to help. 

-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT

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