The Aldi pasta dish you can make for less than $3 per person

When we talk about an inexpensive pasta dinner, you might imagine a blob of jarred red sauce sitting atop a tired pile of plain noodles which is, thankfully, nothing close to what we're about to describe. This meal, using Aldi's Priano Three Cheese Tortellini, Parkview Polska Kielbasa, Reggano Marinara Pasta Sauce, and some frozen spinach, adds up to a pretty sophisticated pasta dinner for less than $3 per person. 

Aldi is recognized by budget-keepers worldwide as one of the best places to score a bargain on groceries, and the idea for this economically-inspired recipe comes from Samantha Morris at Houston Food Finder. Her Cheese Tortellini with Sausage and Italian Salad (oh yeah — you get a salad with this meal, too!) comes to a total of $11.03 which works out to $2.75 per serving for four people. How's that for dining on a budget?

Tortellini has an interesting history

Tortellini, the star ingredient of this dish, has an interesting origin story. According to NPR, the legend says an Italian innkeeper surreptitiously spied on Venus, the goddess of love, while she was staying in his tavern in the town of Castelfranco Emilia. He caught a partial glimpse of her body and was so inspired by the sight of her belly button, he immediately rushed to his kitchen to roll fresh pasta, shaping it into the likeness of her navel. 

Tortellini is recognized as a symbol of Italy's gastronomic culture but, because the filling's traditional ingredients (like Parmesan and prosciutto) are so expensive, there have been times when it has been reserved strictly as a special occasion dish. Luckily, today, you can get a convenient pre-made version of this Italian specialty from Aldi for only $4.65 for a 20-ounce package. This version may not have the same handmade authenticity as the one inspired by the belly button of a love goddess, but surely it will taste delicious, nonetheless.

Cheese tortellini with sausage and a side salad is inexpensive and easy

To make this budget-friendly pasta dinner, Morris says to slice the kielbasa (which comes in a 14-ounce package for $2.59) into whatever size and shape you prefer, then saute it in a pan until it develops some color. If you have an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic on hand already, you could chop them and toss them in at this point, too. Next, add the tortellini, the surprisingly inexpensive $0.95 marinara sauce, and 12 ounces of frozen chopped spinach for a measly $0.65 to the pan. Simmer until the pasta is cooked through. 

When you're ready to eat, serve your Cheese Tortellini with Sausage alongside Aldi's Little Salad Bar Italian Salad Kit. At $2.19 for a 7-ounce salad, you're still well within your budget for this extra serving of vegetables. If you're curious about the nutrition of this meal, My Food Diary says one cup of Priano Three Cheese Tortellini has 250 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 42 carbs, and 440 mg of sodium. Not terrible, considering it's a cheese-stuffed pasta dinner, but perhaps something to keep in mind in case someone ever wants to model a food after your belly button.