Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce

This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes, so I shredded a couple handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and made this scrumptious vegetable and meat sauce. It has more flavor, more texture (read: fiber), and more nutrients. It’s a win-win-win!

 See this recipe used in my weekly meal prep.
Overhead view of a white bowl full of Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce, title text at top

Balance Your Costs with Vegetables

My favorite trick for extending ground meat in recipes is to use vegetables or beans to replace half of the ground meat. This time I shredded vegetables, which mimicked the texture of the ground meat, but added a subtle sweetness and a whole lot of nutrition to the sauce. This sauce is so delicious that I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls while I took photos!

Can I Make This Sauce Vegetarian?

If you want to make a vegetarian version of this dish, I suggest mincing an 8oz. container of mushrooms and sautéing them with the onions and garlic. The minced texture will again mimic the ground meat and mushrooms have that umami flavor that is similar to ground meat.

Is it Freezer Friendly?

This sauce should freeze great, if you want to make a double batch and have it on hand in your freezer for busy nights. Just make sure to cool the sauce completely in the refrigerator first, then transfer to the freezer. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for months. To reheat, empty the freezer container into a sauce pot and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Overhead view of the skillet full of Vegetable and Meat Sauce with a wooden spatula

 
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4.86 from 21 votes

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce

Give your basic meat sauce an upgrade with a medley of shredded vegetables and extra herbs and spices for more flavor AND nutrition. 
Total Cost: $7.61 recipe / $1.90 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef ($3.46)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.14)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 zucchini (about 1/2 lb.) ($0.71)
  • 2 carrots ($0.17)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.02)
  • 1 24oz. jar pasta sauce* ($1.65)
  • 12 oz. spaghetti ( $0.97)

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large, deep skillet. Brown the ground beef over medium heat until cooked through.
  • While the beef is browning, finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Once the beef has cooked through, add the onion and garlic to the skillet and continue to sauté until the onion is soft and transparent.
  • While the onion and garlic are sautéing, shred the zucchini and carrots using a large-holed cheese grater. You should have about 1 to 1.5 cups of each once shredded.
  • Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with the basil, oregano, some freshly cracked pepper, salt, and a pinch of red pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender (about 7-10 minutes).
  • Add the pasta sauce and heat through. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the drained spaghetti to the pot with the heat turned off. Add one cup of the prepared sauce to the pasta and stir to coat. Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with additional sauce.

Notes

*I used "three cheese" flavored pasta sauce so that I wouldn't need to add additional Parmesan to each serving.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 366.78kcalCarbohydrates: 46.73gProtein: 25.98gFat: 13.53gSodium: 979.83mgFiber: 7.78g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

 

Side view of a bowl full of Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce

How to Make Vegetable with Meat Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Brown Ground Beef in a skillet with a wooden spatula

Start by browning 1/2 lb. ground beef in a large deep skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil (medium heat).

Diced Onions and Minced Garlic added to the skillet with beef

While the beef is browning, finely dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to the browned beef and continue to cook until the onions are soft and transparent.

Shredded Zucchini and Carrots on a cutting board with a cheese grater

While the onions are sautéing with the meat, shred one zucchini (about 1/2 lb.) and two carrots. You should have about 1 to 1.5 cups of each once finished (the photo makes it look like less).

Shredded Vegetables added to the skillet with the beef

Add the shredded vegetables to the skillet along with 1/2 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional). Continue to sauté the vegetables until they become tender (about 7-10 minutes).

Pasta Sauce being poured into the skillet with the meat and vegetables

Finally, add one 24oz. jar of pasta sauce and stir to combine. I used a “three cheese” flavored pasta sauce (generic brand), but you could use any flavor you’d like. I wanted the three cheese because I figured that way I wouldn’t be as tempted to add more Parmesan to the top of my pasta.

Finished Vegetable and Meat Sauce in the skillet

Stir to combine and heat through (this should only take a few minutes).

A pot full of cooked spaghetti with the vegetable and meat sauce added

Cook 12oz. of spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the cooking pot with the heat turned off and add about 1 cup of the sauce. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce, then divide into serving bowls. Top each bowl with additional sauce.

Pasta with sauce being lifted out of the pot with a wooden pasta fork

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce in a bowl with a fork on the side

After I ate this, I was like, “Please, sir, more?” #olivertwist  SO GOOD!

Vegetable and Meat Sauce in a skillet, viewed from the side

Seriously.Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce - BudgetBytes.comSpaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce - BudgetBytes.com Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce - BudgetBytes.com