As a busy parent, you’re always on the prowl for easy dinner ideas that come together in a flash. As it turns out, a magic trick awaits and you probably already have it in your pantry––a jar of pasta sauce! From innovative noodles to soup, casseroles and more, we’ve rounded up a collection of unique recipes for pasta sauce that use this go-to staple in crazy-creative ways.

Lasagna Soup

The Blond Cook

Everything is made with one pot and we don't have to precook the noodles? Sign us up! This tasty Lasagna Soup from The Blond Cook makes weeknight dinners a cinch. Pair this savory soup with a salad and crusty bread and enjoy a super easy meal.

No-Fry Chicken Parmesan Enchiladas

Poet in the Pantry

This easier than easy recipe uses quick ingredients and results in a flavorful dish that your kiddos will love. Simple jarred sauce and a rotisserie chicken form the basis of this meal that can be paired with a salad and rice. Get the recipe from Poet in the Pantry.

Lasagna Stuffed Mushrooms

Two Peas and Their Pod

An easy way to get your kiddos to stock up on the healthy properties of this superfood, Lasagna Stuffed Mushrooms use giant portobellos, lots of cheese and delicious sauce that will have you swapping them out for noodles every time. Get the recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Chicken Parmesan Sliders


Great for tailgating, parties, appetizers or plain ole dinner, these Chicken Parmesan Sliders are tasty and perfectly paired with salad or veggies. Grab this easy recipe at Home.Made.Interest.

Italian Pot Roast

Olivia's Cuisine

Comfort food to the rescue! Kick up your go-to pot roast with this Italian version that uses jarred sauce and can be served atop a creamy serving of polenta. Get the recipe at Olivia's Cuisine.

Italian Sausage Hoagies

Chelsea's Messy Apron

Restaurant-style hoagies are ready to hit the dinner tab stat with this easy recipe. Bonus points? It uses a jar of chunky marinara to get the job done. Get the recipe from Chelsea's Messy Apron.

Pasta Sauce Healthy Minestrone Soup

Plating Pixels

Whipping up a batch of soup doesn't always mean slaving over the stove for hours. Healthy veggies and that handy jar of pasta sauce all come together in one pot and cook for 15-20 minutes in this simple minestrone soup recipe. Get the recipe from Plating Pixels.

Instant Pot Marinara Rice + Brats

This Worthey Life

Psst! This easy dinner is done in 30 minutes or less, courtesy of your beloved Instant Pot. The ingredients are simple (think: marinara sauce, jasmine rice, brats and fresh veggies) and it's super flavorful too! Get the recipe from This Worthey Life.

Pizza Stuffed Chicken

Dinner at the Zoo

Think outside the pizza box! This delish dish combines the flavor of freshly baked pizza with a hearty chicken dinner. It's easy to make, and you can use your family's favorite pizza toppings as flavor inspiration! Get the recipe from Dinner at the Zoo.

Italian Baked Eggs

Damn Delicious

Breakfast for dinner or best-ever brunch! This cheesy baked eggs dish can be made in just 15 minutes, and it's super easy to customize with whatever cheese you have on hand. Plus, the kiddos will love dunking bread in their eggs. Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.

Roasted Garlic White Chicken Lasagna Soup

Little Spice Jar

If you love creamy, comforting soup, you'll love this. One of the star ingredients is handy-dandy jarred Alfredo sauce, and you can always throw in extra veggies or noodles to suit your fam's tastes. Get the recipe from Little Spice Jar.

Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs

Damn Delicious

If using a jar of marinara for spaghetti seems ho-hum, you need to check out this genius recipe. It turns traditional spaghetti and meatballs into an amazing baked cheesy casserole. Trust us, this ain't your average spaghetti. Learn more at Damn Delicious.

Pizza Grilled Cheese

Mom to Mom Nutrition

You’d be hard-pressed to find a kid who doesn’t like pizza and grilled cheese, which is why we think this hybrid is as genius as it is delicious. It’s got the flavors of your fave pie—complete with marinara sauce—but the outer-beauty of a fab grilled cheese sandwich. Get the recipe from Mom to Mom Nutrition.

Marinara Soup

The Seasoned Mom

Did you know that a jar of marinara sauce can turn into a comforting bowl of vegetarian soup in about 20 minutes? It’s better than any magic trick and the best way to turn a chilly weeknight into a warm and toasty good time. Even better: You probably have all the ingredients right now. Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole Recipe

The Weary Chef

Take note, casserole fans! This cheesy chicken parmesan is the perfect weeknight meal and can feed a whole crowd of hungry folks. It’s also a snap to make—and it all starts with your favorite pasta sauce. Get the recipe from The Weary Chef.

Spaghetti and Hot Dogs

Kitchen Simmer

What do you get when two kid food faves join forces? Spaghetti and hot dogs, of course! Just think of this one-pot meal as a neat upgrade for that box of noodles in your pantry. Don’t forget to add some veggies for an extra healthy kick! Get the recipe from Kitchen Simmer.

Skillet Pizza Pasta

Mom to Mom Nutrition

Is it pizza? Is it pasta? It’s both—and totally delicious. The secret to this innovative pasta is the flavors of your favorite pizza (Think customizable ingredients, sneaky veggies, and pepperoni!). And it’s ready in the amount of time it takes your noodles to cook! Get the recipe from Mom to Mom Nutrition.

Italian-Style Meatloaf with Marinara

Saporito Kitchen

Looking for hearty comfort food that the whole fam will love? Meatloaf to the rescue! This recipe gets points for using herbs and spices you probably already have in your pantry. Grab a jar of marinara, and you’re good to go! Get the recipe from Saporito Kitchen.

Easy Beef-Stuffed Shells

jeffreyw via Flickr

These stuffed shells are a baked masterpiece if we do say so ourselves. They’re a cinch to make and super cheesy, too. Plus, they reheat like a dream, so you’ll have a good weeknight meal whenever you want! Get the recipe from Taste of Home.

One-Pot Zucchini Prosciutto Mozarella Rolls

Apron Strings

Give these rolls a whirl and thrill your family with their new favorite meal! This idea has the yumminess of stuffed zucchini, minus the hassle. It’s veggie-filled, cheesy, and your little chefs can even get involved. For the recipe, roll on over to Apron Strings.

3-Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells

Pinch of Yum

Psst! This recipe is delicious, creamy, and vegan! What’s the secret? Cashews! It’s the perfect go-to meal when you’re craving a healthier version of your favorite comfort food. Try it for yourself, and go nuts for this quick-but-tasty meal. Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Rustic Grilled Vegetable and Sausage Pasta

Boulder Locavore

What do we love most about this pasta dish? It could be the healthy veggies, bold flavors, or sweet Italian sausage. It could be that you can customize the ingredients to suit your family’s tastes. Then again, it could be the fact that it's an easy upgrade for that jar of marinara in your cupboard. Get the recipe from Boulder Locavore.

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili

A Taste of Madness

Three cheers for chili! This recipe has a smart shortcut: pasta sauce! Combine it with ground beef, adjust the spiciness to suit your family, let it cook in your slow cooker, and voila! You’ve got a hearty meal that will amp up any dinnertime. Get the recipe from A Taste of Madness.

5-Ingredient One-Pot Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Kristine's Kitchen Blog

Is there anything better than a one-pot meal that’s truly yummy? That’s the beauty behind this 5-ingredient pasta which spotlights chicken sausage, veggies, and cheese. The pasta will even absorb the flavor from your favorite sauce—score! Get the recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen Blog.

Freezer English Muffin Mini Pizzas

Simple as That

If make-ahead meals make your heart go pitter-patter, you’re in luck. These kid-sized English muffin pizzas are the definition of convenience—sub in pasta sauce instead of pizza sauce, and you'll have a lunchbox hit or easy dinner! Get the recipe from Simple as That.

Spaghetti Sauce Sloppy Joes

whitneyinchicago via Flickr

Ready for the best sloppy joes shortcut ever? Leftover spaghetti and meat sauce makes the perfect base for this classic sandwich. It's never been easier to make a quick and delicious meal (And what kid doesn’t love a dish with the word “sloppy” right in the title?). Get the recipe from Tip Garden.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parm

Baking and Creating with Avril

File this under “Beloved Crock Pot Recipes,” STAT! There are only three ingredients in this chicken parm recipe, but the payoff is off the charts. The cleanup is easy, and you’ll love the set-it-and-forget-it part of the process! Get the recipe here.

—Abigail Matsumoto & Karly Wood


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