This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was something I am already in the habit of doing:
Budget Eats – How low can you go? Can you make a meal for less than $3 per serving? Whatever your budget, show us your healthy entree recipe to help keep food spending in check in 2017.
I always make inexpensive, prep-ahead lunches in bulk to bring with me throughout the week, so for this challenge, I just stuck with my usual routine. Since I have a brand new, shiny pasta maker attachment from my handsome fiance, I decided to go for a big batch of lasagne, which I knew would make at least 8 servings. That meant I had $24 to spend on the dish, but I can do much better than that, especially with homemade noodles! I used a mixture of all-purpose flour and eggs for the pasta, which I’m sure I’ll tell you about in more detail in the future, once I have pasta making down to a science. You could also just buy lasagna noodles, but I’ve never found whole wheat ones, and my plan is to eventually be so good at making pasta that I’ll be able to make whole wheat lasagne noodles for myself!
That’s my fiance modelling our gorgeous noodles. I made about a pound’s worth of pasta for this recipe and let the sheets dry slightly while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
I decided on ground turkey and frozen spinach as the filling, simply because they are cheap, healthy, and round out the nutrition profile of the dish well. I simply sauteed each of those ingredients in my new aptly-named “everyday pan” from Le Creuset (another Christmas present!) until the turkey was almost cooked through and the spinach had thawed and dried out a bit.
Then, I began the layering process, which really had no rhyme or reason to it. I started with sauce at the bottom, then pasta, and then alternated layers of ricotta, spinach, turkey, sauce, and noodles. I also seasoned as I went, because none of the individual ingredients had been salted yet. After each layer of pasta, I would press down to solidify the layers, which made a difference in the stability of the end product.
Despite the lack of planning, the layers of ingredients turned out perfectly!
While the lasagne baked, which took about 40 minutes at 400F, I assembled my freezer breakfast sandwiches for the next few weeks. It’s basically just whole wheat English muffins, deli turkey, and cheddar cheese, which I toast when I get to work until it is defrosted and melty!
The pasta got really poofy while it baked, which made me giggle. It flattened out while it cooled.
After the lasagne cooled, I cut it in to 8 very dense, filling rectangles, portioned them into storage containers, and was all set for 2 dinners (for 2 people) and 4 lunches! I can’t wait to make this again with whole wheat noodles to up the nutrition even more. If I had thought ahead, I would’ve made a huge salad to go along with this meal to stretch the portions even further, but at least I’m getting some veggies from the spinach and tomato sauce.
Here is the price breakdown for this cheesy, melty, comforting make-ahead lasagne (based on Wegmans pricing):
Lasagne noodles: 1.69/box or $0.75/flour and $0.57/4 eggs
Spinach: 1.5 bags at $1 each = $1.50
Crushed tomatoes: $1.99
Ground turkey: $4.49
Seasonings: in my pantry
Total = $14.08 for 8 large portions or $1.76/serving
I came in under-budget by 42% and saved many nights of cooking. Beat that!
- 1 lb ready-to-bake lasagna noodles (store bought or homemade)
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 1/2 lbs frozen spinach
- 1 28oz can crushed, unsalted tomatoes
- 1 small container part-skim ricotta
- 1 bag shredded mozzarella
- Salt, pepper, garlic salt, herbs, to taste.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- If making your own pasta, make the noodles first before prepping the ingredients. Allow them to dry slightly (about 20 minutes) after rolling before layering.
- Meanwhile, cook the ground turkey over medium heat in a large saute pan until cooked through. Set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan. Season as desired.
- Add the frozen spinach and cook, stirring often, until thawed and most of the juices have evaporated. Season as desired.
- In a large baking dish (enameled baking dishes are the easiest to clean!), layer some tomato first, then a layer of noodles.
- Next, alternate between the turkey, ricotta, and spinach, with occasional layers of noodles and sauce in between. Season with salt and pepper throughout.
- Finish the layering with noodles, then sauce, then a generous portion of mozzarella. Gently press down to solidify the layers.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until the cheese is brown and the sauce is bubbling. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving, or let cool completely to portion and freeze.