Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes




Try This Easy and Affordable Grandma’s Poor Do Recipe

substitute names for grandma, Bow Tie Pasta, Candle, Celebration, Cheese, Close-up

Try This Easy and Affordable Grandma’s Poor Do Recipe

The name of this dish comes from the Depression-era situation of having to make do with the ingredients you could find in the pantry when you were feeling especially poor. While it’s not the Great Depression anymore, many families still know the challenge of trying to stretch their food budgets as far as possible.

While we can’t control the rising costs of housing and can only adjust the thermostat so much until people complain, we can control our food costs. We can shop for groceries at discount supermarkets or use bulk ingredients, but there’s still that point (usually right before payday) where we’re scrounging the pantry to come up with a meal.

Grandma’s poor do could also be called the pantry challenge. You might think that a poor do or pantry challenge wouldn’t taste good, but this actually does taste amazing. If your kids don’t like onions, you can also use onion powder instead. 

Pasta is always a great choice for an affordable meal that you come up with on the fly. Everybody loves pasta, especially kids. And this recipe also contains bacon, another crowd-pleaser. It’s so good you might want to make it even when the pantry is full of groceries!

Grandma's Cooking Tips

Grandmas have lots of different names. In the South, Grandma might be Granny, Memaw, or Mamaw. Some kids call their grandma Nana or Nanny. More formal families might say Grandmother. Grandmas who are still young and glamorous might prefer to be called Glam-ma, as it seems less matronly than Grandma. 

Regardless of what your family calls the woman who is the grandma, most grandmas have the same character traits that are so valuable to their family. One of those traits is a wide variety of skills and traits well-honed over many years. Need to know how to get by when times are lean? Ask Grandma. Losing patience with the kids? Chances are that Grandma knows the answer to that question, too.

Whether you personally like the way your Grandma prepares food or you prefer to be more adventurous, you can still a lot from her. She knows her way around a kitchen, having prepared meals for decades. She knows a lot of shortcuts and easier ways to prepare food, considering all of her kitchen experience. And she likely also knows a lot about how to stretch your food budget to feed a hungry family when times are tight.

The best family cooking experiences are the traditions that get passed down from one generation to the next. Hopefully, you had the experience of standing at the counter with your own grandma, learning her secrets about how to cook. But even if you didn’t and your mother is still alive, why not start a new tradition? Your kids will love spending the time with their grandma and the things she can teach them can create a lifelong love of cooking.

Pasta and Bacon

Pasta and bacon go together as well as peanut butter and jelly, but it’s a lot more sophisticated. The combination of crispy, smoky bacon and comforting pasta always goes well together. And there are almost endless amounts of sauces you can use to create unique dinner combinations.

You can put bacon and pasta together with eggs, cheese, and maybe peas to make a version of pasta carbonara. You can make macaroni and cheese and add bacon for a recipe that’s guaranteed to make anyone in your family thrilled. 

Making homemade cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese isn’t that tough, by the way. Just whisk together two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour, then gradually pour in two cups of milk. Whisk constantly so you don’t get lumps. When you get to the thickness you want, add two cups of shredded cheddar cheese and stir until it’s all melted. It’s a little bit more effort than the famous blue box mac and cheese, but it tastes so much better.

You can also make pasta and bacon with a package of cream cheese and a package of chopped frozen spinach. It’s a great way to get your kids to eat more vegetables and the creamy flavor is something that’s sure to be a hit.

You never need to feel worried about what to do when it’s close to payday and you don’t have a meal planned. Keep some pasta and bacon on hand and the meals you can make are almost endless.

What to Serve With This Recipe

You'll likely find yourself making this dish when you're low on money or it's about to be grocery shopping day. Because of that, your options for sides may be somewhat limited. That being said, you can still find a way to add something a little extra to dinner.

Bread is always a great choice for pasta dishes. Whether it's sandwich bread or something fancier, any type of bread will do. It can be used to soak up excess sauce, adding extra flavor to each bite. Serve the bread warm for an added touch.

Applesauce may be a bit of an odd side to pair with pasta in the minds of some, but when your budget is tight it can be a great idea. Plus, it's nutritious, meaning that your family will be able to get the nutrients they need out of their dinner. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and serve.

Frozen vegetables tend to be fairly affordable. Again, this isn't too common of a pasta side, but when money is tight you can't afford to be too picky. Buy a bag of frozen vegetable medley and serve that alongside your pasta. The combination will create a complete and nutritious meal for not a lot of expense.

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Grandmas Poor Do, Basil, Bow Tie, Bow Tie Pasta, Chicken Meat, Cooked

Grandma's Poor Do Recipe

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  • Author: Moms Who Think
  • Total Time: 35 minutes


This recipe gets it’s name from the times when grandma had to make do with what was in the pantry, usually a day or two before payday. The name may say poor, but the taste is anything but! The kids love this, some may be picky about the onion though. If yours are, substitute a teaspoon of onion powder for the onion. You’ll get the extra flavor without having the drama of onion pieces being picked out of their dinner.


  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 215 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 16 ounce package bowtie pasta, cooked


  1. Sauté bacon, celery and onion until bacon is crisply cooked.
  2. Pour in tomato sauce.
  3. Heat through, gently fold in pasta, stirring well.
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: American
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