Pasta is a staple student meal. It's quick and easy to make: cook some spaghetti or penne, heat up some sauce, and voila! A (more or less) homecooked meal. Uncooked pasta also has the benefit of storing pretty well in the cupboard, making it easy to buy in bulk and avoid trips to the grocery store. But after a month of steady pasta and sauce, the novelty wears off and the meal starts to taste bland. So, what can you do to level-up that jar of pasta sauce?

1. Spice it Up

herb, tea
Erin Rose

Add some dried basil, oregano, or thyme. Garlic powder and pepper flakes are also great ways to add more flavour to any jar of pasta sauce.

2. Cheap Chickpeas

chickpeas, pasture, soy, pea, cereal, vegetable, legume
Fiona Galey

A can of chickpeas has so many uses and adding protein to pasta sauce is just one of them. They're relatively cheap—around $2 a can. Just heat them up with the pasta sauce to create a low-cost and simple solution. 

3. Meat

mince, cereal, ground beef, oatmeal, beef, meat
Alex Frank

Leftover taco meat and diced chicken can be added to store-bought pasta sauce for an effortless protein boost. Lacking leftovers? Take a little extra time and poach a chicken breast in the pot you'll use to heat up your pasta sauce. As an added bonus, you'll avoid unnecessary dishes.

4. Terrific Tofu

sweet, corn, wheat, cereal
Tina Yu

Vegetarians and vegans can pack their jarred sauce with protein by adding crumbled tofu to create a delicious tofu twist on traditional bolognese sauce. Skip the jarred tomato sauce altogether and try a creamy alfredo-like tofu-based sauce instead.

5. Veggies

apple, cucumber, salad, pepper, vegetable
Tina Yu

Add some vitamins to your pasta without the extra dishes. Cook some of your favourite chopped, fresh, or frozen veggies with the sauce. I often use spinach and carrots, but zucchini, broccoli, and sweet peppers are great too. Get creative and discover your new favourite veggie combination; you'll make your mom proud!

macaroni, vegetable, meat, basil, tomato, sauce, pasta, spaghetti
Tina Yu

Making your own pasta sauce is always a great option too. There are tons of recipes floating around the net, including traditional recipes made with love and more adventurous pumpkin based sauces.

Whether you're choosing to upgrade store-bought pasta sauce or make your own, you don't have to dread another pasta and sauce supper. Level-up any jar of pasta sauce and fall in love with this staple all over again.