Confession: I love spaghetti o’s.
The kinda cheese-y but definitely tomato-y sauce with all the fun little noodle o’s that would nestle into each other…
I used to pick out all the tiny o’s and eat those first.
Unless there were meatballs. Meatballs trumped all the noodles.
I was young and naive in those spaghetti o days, just a kid oblivious to nutrition labels and artificial ingredients. It’s amazing though how strong that pull is though to favorite childhood foods.
I mean, I’ve read the list of ingredients, picked up my mouth after seeing both high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils (the only two completely banned ingredients from our kitchen) and yet I’m STILL tempted to buy a can because I vividly remember how much I loved them as a kid. I can’t even walk down that aisle without thinking about those meatballs.
Yikes. Processed food has some pretty amazing powers!
Fortunately, my homemade spaghettio’s are pretty amazing in their own right.
Just like the original, they’re kinda cheese-y and definitely tomato-y. The pasta is still small so I can play around to see how many noodles I can fit on my spoon.
It’s my favorite bowl of childhood goodness, all re-made and grown up into something my body can recognize and digest. It’s a 100% real food comfort food I’m okay with feeding to my own kids so that one day they too can look back and fondly remember spaghetti o’s.
With meatballs for my son, without for my daughter, extra sauce for both.
The main ingredient is tomato sauce, but you can definitely substitute leftover tomato basil soup or easy homemade pizza sauce instead. You can puree tomatoes fresh from the garden (like I did), use a can of diced tomatoes or even your own favorite homemade marinara.
In fact, I encourage you to be purposeful in the kitchen and scrounge up one of those options before adding tomato sauce to your shopping list.
Better still, be pro-active (and win awesome parent hugs) by planning to make homemade spaghetti o’s for lunch on the weeks you have any of these recipes on your meal plan!
- 16 oz tomato sauce*
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp dried thyme (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
- 6 Tbsp milk
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup packed cheddar cheese, shredded (about 5 oz)
- 2 cups small pasta, about 8 oz (ditalini if you're shopping in store, or anelletti for the traditional O-shaped noodles)*
- additional salt, to taste
- Cook pasta noodles al dente according to the directions on the package.
- Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, spices, milk and butter in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. The honey is optional, but adds the signature "sweet" taste that you're used to in spaghetti o's. If you add it, add it with the milk and butter.
- Add cheese and stir until melted. Turn heat to low until pasta is done.
- Strain pasta when done and portion into serving bowls.
- Ladle finished sauce over pasta, adding more sauce for those who like it saucy!
* If you use another pasta that is slightly larger, like small shells or macaroni, you might need to increase the quantity.
Additional Recipe Ideas
I try to buy sharp cheddar whenever possible, since it takes less to acheive the same cheese-y flavor as medium cheddar. I used medium cheddar in the recipe above because it’s what I had, but if you use sharp cheddar, reduce to 1/2 cup and taste, then possibly adding another 1/4 cup. You likely won’t need a full cup of cheese.
As I mentioned earlier, the tomato sauce can be substituted with tomato basil soup, easy homemade pizza sauce or homemade marinara. You can make your own tomato sauce by pureeing any canned or fresh tomato. If you go this route, measure the finished puree, not the whole tomatoes.
- tomato sauce: free from the garden (or $1 if you have to buy it)
- all spices: $0.15
- butter: $0.18
- honey: $.11
- milk: $0.09
- cheese: $1.09
- tomato paste: $0.22
- pasta: $0.50
Total cost for Homemade Spaghetti O’s is $3.34.
You’ll get about 4 servings from this recipe, making it cheaper (and WAY healthier) than store bought spaghetti o’s. Plus you can make it even cheaper by using tomatoes from the garden, or sauce leftover from other meals!