For some reason many of us get scared off by the idea of making lasagna. It seems like a complex dish, but really it isn’t at all. I am not sure if restaurants do it in some super difficult way that somehow justifies them charging me like $16 dollars for a little chunk of it, but here is the easy way to make lasagna…
Cost Savings of Making Lasagna at Home
Not only is making lasagna pretty easy, it isn’t very expensive either. You can make your whole lasagna for less than the price of one slice at a restaurant, and it will feed your whole family, possibly even twice!
Make it Your Own
Another awesome thing about making your own lasagna, is that you can tweek the ingredients in your recipe to your liking very easily. Over the years, I can’t tell you how many crappy lasagnas I have tasted at restaurants. Too much meat, not enough meat, too bland, too dry, strangely over-sized chunks of onions, etc. At home you can easily remedy all these issues and make the best lasagna you have ever had.
You can increase these ingredients for a bigger casserole dish, but the one I use is 8 x 8…What you will need to make your lasagna:
- Glass baking dish 8 x 8 (Free)
- 1 box uncooked Lasagna noodles ($2-$3)
- 1.5-2 pounds Hamburger (depending how meaty you like it) ($4-$5)
- One or Two 16 oz bags Shredded Mozzarella (depending how cheesy you like it) ($2-$5)
- Two 16 oz containers of Ricotta ($6-$10) (may be substituted with Cottage Cheese if desired) ($4-$8)
- 24-48 oz of your favorite pasta sauce (depending how saucy you like it, I think 36 oz is best) ($2-$6)
- 1 Onion (under $1)
- 2-4 Cloves of Garlic (under $1)
Total Price based on local prices is approximately $16 on the low end, which is how I make mine. So, for $16 both of us get to enjoy about 3 servings of delicious lasagna each (8 x 8 dish).
How to Make Your Lasagna
This is really pretty simple…
- Season your hamburger with salt, pepper, and garlic
- Follow directions on lasagna noodle box and begin cooking them
- Fry your hamburger in a pan, mix and chop it while cooking to make crumbled pieces
- When your hamburger is a few minutes from being done you can add diced onion for extra flavor, or you can add the onion to the lasagna later on during assembly, if you do not prefer the flavor of grilled onions
- When the hamburger is done, turn done heat to low and add your marinara sauce and minced garlic to the meat and stir
There is a huge debate on whether to add egg to your Ricotta Cheese or not, I add two to mine. It is supposed to help it stay more firm, and I don’t want to risk a floppy lasagna, so I just go for it. Just beat your egg a little, like you would making scrambled eggs or french toast, then stir it in to your ricotta. If you choose to use cottage cheese instead of ricotta, like my american grandma used to, you can ignore the egg thing. Using cottage cheese is generally the best cost saving option, and also has lower fat content than Ricotta.
- First spray your dish with some non-stick spary, or rub some oil if you don’t have a spray. This will help you get you lasagna out after it is cooked
- Now put a layer of the meat sauce you made on the bottom of the baking dish (about 1/4 of the sauce you made).
- Then put down layer of noodles. Lay them side by side, it is better to overlap a little than leave a gap. Cut off excess length or width with a knife if it is too big for your dish.
- Next spread on a layer of the Ricotta (about 1/4 inch thick). Some people put the meat sauce first, but I find it difficult to spread the ricotta on the sauce. Either way will work though.
- Then spoon on a layer of the meat sauce (about 1/2 inch thick) if you did the Ricotta first.
- Now sprinkle on a layer of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat the layers, starting with the noodles going perpendicular to first layer of noodles, again for stability later on when trying to cut out a slice. After adding the ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella, put a third layer of noodles and add the remaining sauce. Hold off on the mozzarella for now.
Put it in the Oven
Ok, now the work is all done! It took about 15-20 minutes to cook the meat and noodles, and about 10-15 to assemble. Now you can just stick it in the oven and wait for your super delicious, easier than you thought, budget friendly lasagna!
Since you will need to put foil over your lasagna to heat it evenly, I recommend adding the last of the mozzarella towards the end so it doesn’t stick to the foil. Try to leave space between the top of the lasagna and the foil of you can so it doesn’t stick, but I never do this correctly.
Have your oven preheated to 375 degrees, then put the covered lasagna in for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the dish, remove the foil, and add the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Put it back in the oven, uncovered, at 350 for another 15 minutes. You can skip this step if you think you just want to put the cheese on and cook it covered the whole time. That is totally fine, but you may be a little sad if cheese sticks…even though it will still taste great, it won’t look as pretty.
Easy Side Dishes for your Easy to Make Lasagna
See that wasn’t so bad. It is really quite simple. The most time consuming part is the baking, and even a a lasagna from the frozen section of your grocery store takes like a hour to cook. I guarantee this tastes a hundred times better, takes almost the same amount of time, and it is way better for you.
My favorite side dish with lasagna is Caesar salad, and nothing could be easier. You can either go the really easy, $4 route and buy a pre-made Caesar Salad Kit at the grocery store, or make it yourself. Which is still pretty darn easy. All you need is some romaine lettuce, croutons, some shredded Parmesan, and a good Caesar dressing. My favorite store bought Caesar dressing, that is usually available everywhere at a decent price (around $4), is Girard’s Caesar Dressing.
And my other go to is, of course, garlic bread. There are many varieties of this Italian favorite. But basically, you need to heat up some bread in the oven with butter or olive oil, and garlic on it (and a sprinkle of Parmesan and/or mozzarella can also be added, but isn’t necessary).
And there you go, you have now made a gourmet meal for your family for about the price of one person’s plate if you went out.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please let me know. I would love to hear from you, feel free to leave a comment, and I will get back to you asap. Talk to you soon!