To all my budget concious chefs, single or not:
Do me a favor and never buy prepared pasta sauce. Please. The cheap stuff tastes like ketchup and the expensive stuff is, well just that. It might be tempting but tomato sauce is the easiest thing you will ever make in your life, and you can throw it in your freezer for a rainy day. I was thinking about more recipes I make during a relaxing evening in, and there is something magical and Italian Grandmotheresque about a simmering pot of tomato sauce. Anytime you see large cans of plain crushed tomatoes on sale grab as many as you can. You can go plain with this or add vegetables, but my favorite is puttanesca style with kalamata olives and capers.
1 can plain crushed tomatoes
Handful kalamata olives
1 medium onion
Optional: splash of red wine, fresh basil, red pepper flakes
Sautee the onion in olive oil over medium heat with plenty of salt and pepper. Once the onions are slightly caremelized add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes if desired and sweat for a minute. Add the tomatoes, juice and all and turn down the heat to med/low. While it is coming to a simmer, chop the olives into small pieces and add along with the capers. At this point you can add some wine, and if using fresh herbs add right before serving. The sauce can simmer for a while, usually about a half hour while you sit and watch some tv. Cool leftovers and pop in your freezer.
*Note: Canned tomatoes are cheap and readily available year round but during the summer if you have fresh tomatoes, chop them and throw them in.
*Another note: I like things spicy but occasionally get a little overzealous with the spice. If this ever happens to you, add a few drizzles of honey. Some people do this anyways to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes.