I am a lasagna piggy. There, I’ve said it. The cat’s out of the bag. I love Italian food in general. But, cheap hearty homemade beef lasagna sits right there at the top.
I’m always looking for cheap meals, and this is a great example of a cheap meal, simply because it’s not only inexpensive, but you will have leftovers for sure–that is, unless you’re feeding a few football players that just got done with their workout, and they’re starving. Even then, I’m guessing you’ll have some leftovers.
This is a bit of a doozy of a post, and it seems like a long and hard recipe, but it’s not. It takes a little while to make the lasagna, but it’s worth it.
This meal costs approximately $18
I get a little crazy with the cheese and add plenty. Cheese is one of the greatest foods ever. You could hand me a block of cheese and I could sit and gnaw on it and be perfectly happy.
When you buy the ricotta cheese, you can get it as whole milk ricotta, or part-skim milk. I am firmly in the camp that if you’re eating lasagna, you need to do it big with whole milk. Gotta put that diet on the back burner long enough to eat the goods.
I generally put about a pound of meat in the lasagna, which is plenty.
Thankfully, I found a local store that sells meat at a discount. You can search around your area and see if you can find some inexpensive meat. Or, stock up on meat when it’s on sale and toss it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
I like to cook, but for some reason, boiling lasagna noodles ain’t my thang. Boiling the noodles is almost like entering a bad dream. I boiled them a couple of times, but they tore, stuck together, and created a nightmare situation where lasagna was not the end product. Knowing me, I read something wrong on the noodle box and forgot to add something to the water. I’m sure I am the reason these companies came up with oven-ready lasagna.
Let’s Get Down To Business
(Ingredients, measurements, and directions are listed at the bottom of the post).
Step 1: Brown the meat, drain it, and pour it into a large bowl. Add the pasta sauce. Mix together.
Step 2: Mix the ricotta, seasonings, and egg together in a separate bowl.
Step 3: I like to put a little sauce on the bottom of the pan so nothing sticks to it.
Step 4: Put the lasagna noodles in the casserole dish (I use a 9″ x 13″ dish). Don’t worry about the gaps, the noodles are going to expand when they cook into amazing deliciousness. Click here to grab a Pyrex Dish similar to mine here.
Step 5: Put a large spoonful of the cheese mixture on each of the noodles. Then a spoonful of the sauce on top. Spread it out, like in the picture below. Then add another layer of noodles (I’ve started the next set in the pic below).
Step 6: Keep layering noodles with cheese mixture and sauce until you run out of noodles. I try to put a handful of mozzarella between each layer. You should end up with cheese mixture and sauce on the very top. I add even more mozzarella to the very top.
When it’s all said and done, I usually end up with about three thick layers.
Step 7: Put some tinfoil on top and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes. Once it bakes for the 45 minutes, take the tin foil off and bake for another 15-20 minutes. You can see if it’s done by sticking a fork down through the noodles. If they feel soft, it’s done. If it’s not quite done, stick it back in the oven for a little longer.
Step 8: Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!
P.S. This is a great meal to make ahead of time and freeze. I made a double pan of this and took it to a church function and fed a ton of people on a small amount. I prepared it ahead of time, froze it, and took it to the church kitchen where they cooked it. Worked out great!