It's time to save your scraps, use what you have, and become inventive with leftovers. If you keep a couple of boxes of pasta in your pantry for quick, satisfying weekday meals, you can also start creating something else that you might not be aware is valuable: Your pasta water. There is nothing special about it. Pasta water is exactly what it sounds like: hazy, salty water that remains after cooking a vat of spaghetti, penne, or any other type of pasta you may have. Noodles exude starch when simmered, giving the water its murky colour. Your water to pasta ratio will determine how starchy it is. The water will be starchier if you cook a pound of pasta in a half-gallon of water as opposed to a gallon. 

Let's say you've cooked some noodles, drained them, and are left with a pot of pasta water. What you need to do about it? Making a sauce for the freshly cooked noodles is the most obvious solution. The secret to creating silky, restaurant-quality sauces is to use a small amount of pasta water. The starchy, sauce-making ability of pasta water is essential to some of the most traditional Italian pasta meals, like cacio e pepe and carbonara. Even so, the water from the pasta can help bind the sauce to the noodles even if you aren't cooking your own. A quarter to a half cup of pasta water and some pesto should be combined with your noodles to assist the pesto in coating the noodles. 

Saving pasta water for homemade bread is also a good idea. Simply replace the water you would typically use in your dough with pasta water. The water's starch contributes to the bread's rising. To determine the amount of salt in the water before adding it, simply taste it. If it contains a lot of salt, reduce the amount of salt you apply to the dough. 

You can also freeze your pasta water, though it might not be practical to do so depending on how much pasta you consume and how much freezer space you have. That way, you'll always have some on hand to add to pan sauce or to use in quart-sized containers in vegetarian soups in place of or in addition to vegetable stock. It's also fantastic for boiling beans with, adding to the decadent bean broth that results from slow-cooking beans for hours. It's just another approach to maximise what you already have and lessen how frequently you need to go shopping.