I was browsing through a magazine my wonderful Mom-in-law gave me this morning, and found something really helpful. Here are a few tips on dealing with pasta. Pasta, homemade or boxed, is one of the all-time great cheap eats, of course, but I've found that how you cook it makes an enormous difference. Here's the snippet I pulled out of Every Day With Rachel Ray.
Breaking long pasta into shorter pieces makes it easier to eat.
If spaghetti were better short, it would have been made that way! Plus, broken strands are hard to eat since they're not long enough to twirl onto a fork.
Add olive oil to the cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking.
Pasta shouldn't stick when properly cooked. If it's cooked with olive oil, it will actually coat the noodles and prevent sauce from sticking.
Throw the pasta against the wall--if it sticks, it's done.
The only way to know if it's done is to taste it! It should be al dente, or firm to the bite. The more pasta cooks, the gummier it gets, so if it sticks to the wall it's probably overdone.
Rinse pasta after cooking and draining.
This will make the pasta cold and rinse away the starch that helps bind the sauce to it.
It's all about the sauce.
Italians will tell you it's pasta with sauce--not sauce with pasta! Too much sauce buries the flavor of the pasta and overwhelms it."
taken from Every Day with Rachel Ray, October 2009, page 92.
Hope that's helpful!