Operation: Pasta for a Crowd


Teen boys. Aaah. What to feed teen boys? An especially difficult decision when four extra six-footers are coming, and quantity is definitely an important criteria.

The Situation

5:45 a text arrives from 17-year-old son: Mom, what’s for dinner?

I answer, hard at work watching Young and the Restless: I wasn’t going to make anything. I’m tired. It’s Friday.

The ask: Can you make pasta or something? And can V, X. Y, and Z come too?

Me: Umm.. Yeah, sure.

Challenge accepted.

My wheels started turning. Ground beef in the freezer, a bag of frozen homemade tomato sauce…Pasta Bolognese. Yes, meat and carbs would definitely fit the bill for these hungry boys. Add a huge salad and all the food groups would be covered. Make too much pasta, and a third dish, Spaghetti with butter, cheese and hot peppers rounds out the meal.

6:45 pm The kitchen is overwhelmed by the sounds of boys eating, laughing, asking for more.

The verdict: Success. Mom triumphs again and shows herself to be a domestic heroine.

The reward: Grateful teens, leftovers for tomorrow, and 10 hands to clean up the kitchen.

The Recipe:

You’ll need:

2 500g packages of spaghetti or other pasta
2-3 lbs of lean ground beef
About 8 cups of homemade tomato basil sauce or two jars of a good quality jarred sauce
2-3 tbsp butter
1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp (or to taste) red pepper flakes
Garlic powder, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar

You’ll Do:

Brown 2-3 lbs of lean ground beef in a large skillet that comes with a lid. Add tomato sauce, and simmer on medium low, with the lid half off until sauce is desired thickness, stirring frequently (about 20 minutes). Pour one swirl around of balsamic vinegar, and add salt and pepper to taste, stir again, cover with the lid, and simmer while the pasta cooks.

In the meantime, boil a large pot full of water and cook pasta to al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta.

Drain pasta, and combine with meat sauce back in the pasta pot, stirring until heated and combined.

If you have extra pasta:

Place pasta in a deep skillet (like the one you made the sauce in, rinsed, of course). Add the butter and mix until melted. Add garlic powder to taste, salt and pepper, and the parmesan. Stir. Add hot pepper flakes to taste.

Serve pasta hot with extra cheese on the side.

Makes 8 humoungous servings


Mara is a mom of three teenagers (lord help her), two dogs, and one husband. She shares the real scoop about raising teens and mothering over 40 at momfaze.com; inappropriate slices of life, Empty Fridge Cookery, books and products she loves on beniceorleavethanks.comand just about anything else on The Huffington Post. Sometimes, she guests on Huffington Post Live, where she’s learned that to look good on a webcam you need to wear a lot of blush. A practicing Immaturian, Mara loves to cook, read, laugh, and write lots of words. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as @chickymara.


  1. I have a friend who has 3 teenage sons so I can relate to this very much! lol Thanks

  2. I have 2 sons who will eat you out of house and home, I'm serious, then add a few of their friends!! Pasta has always been a huge hit in our home and it really stretches a meal. We have a pasta meal at least once a week in our house..

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