Saving Money with a Rice Cooker (How to Make Tomato Pasta)

Before I went to law school, I rented a room from a nice family while I worked as a sales account manager in North Jersey.  During that time, I made less than $40,000 a year and constantly fought the urge to join the more expensive lifestyles of my friends in nearby New York.  My $450 below-market rent was a big help, but I was essentially living in a dorm.  I had a shared bathroom with the other tenants and limited access to the kitchen or common areas where the family usually gathered.  So you could imagine that when it came to food, my first instinct was to eat out.

Fortunately, there were quite a few cheap eats in the area including Italian, Japanese and Korean, but I knew that sooner or later the habit would start burning a hole through my wallet.  My solution to not eating out and not having a kitchen?  The all-powerful rice cooker.  And I’m not talking about one of those fancy, multi-functional $300 rice cookers with a digital timer that talks to you when your food is done.  I’m talking about an old-school, classic one-button rice cooker similar to this.*  All you had to do was add rice, water and press the button, and your food was ready in 20 minutes.

Boy, I made all sorts of stuff with that rice cooker: rice, pasta, soup, BBQ short ribs, cake, you name it.  And I documented it all in a blog that sadly no longer exists.**  But lucky for you, I’ve brought back one of my old favorites.  Now, this won’t save you much money if you have a kitchen, but it can still be a lot of fun!  And for those of you who are college students or live in a dorm-like situation, this could bring your meals a bit of variety and some cost savings.

So without further ado, here’s my recipe for tomato pasta in a rice cooker – enjoy!

1. Gather up your ingredients: De Cecco Pasta (Farfalle), Mirin rice cooking wine, ground beef, chopped garlic, Ragù pasta sauce, chopped green onions, butter and mozzarella cheese.

2. Now dump that pasta, ground beef and chopped garlic into your rice cooker pot.  Splash in a bit of cooking wine and add just enough water so that all of the pasta is submerged.


3. Press the cook button.  Wait about 15-20 minutes for the pasta and beef to finish cooking.

4. Once you hear that click that tells you that your food is done, open the lid and immediately add 1/2 tablespoon butter, Ragù and mozzarella cheese.


5. Close the lid and wait five more minutes for the residual steam to heat the sauce and melt the butter and cheese.

6. Open the lid and mix it all together.

7. Serve and eat.


*Note that if you happen to purchase through any of the links on this page, I’ll get a small referral commission from Amazon. 

**The old blog was located at  Unfortunately, a majority of the photos on the site were deleted and so I finally shut the blog down a few years ago.  

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