I think we have let Laserwolf down. All he really wanted was a cheap but good pasta recipe. Two jars of tomato sauce combined with 1.5 pounds of ground beef is not attractive to begin with from either a culinary or budgetary aspect.
He is also cooking only what he knows. The suggestions so far conform only to the original request regarding jazzing it up. Nobody thought beyond this. He states he grew up with it, but does not really like it or can’t get it right. I don’t know if anyone could get this right on a tight budget. Add wine? That’s at least $10 more and not helpful if one does not drink wine. And so it goes. Time to think outside of the box.
This is my suggestion for cheap but tasty. A few cloves of garlic simmered in ordinary olive oil, then discarded. Since meat is in the equation, cook Italian link sausage in the same pan…both will benefit. Remove and reserve sausage, toss pasta with the olive oil, add grated cheese if desired. Serve sausage and any vegetables you want on the side. Simple, cheap and good. Also a lot more authentic.