Saturday, February 5, 2011


For a while now I've been using the menu planning ideas outlined in Stephanie Nelson's books to try and save money on our groceries. It's worked rather well for us, I am down to spending about $50 a week or less. This is great because, due to some rather unpleasant circumstances beyond my control, our finances have basically been cut in half since early December. Instead of just buying whatever I feel like making, I now buy the very best deals on sale and base my menu upon those items and what I already have in the house.

I've been very lucky in recent weeks to be able to stock up on all the ingredients necessary to make Lasagna.
We used to buy the On-Cor frozen lasagna at $3 each but it only made one meal for us and contained a lot of things I couldn't pronounce and too much sodium. My sister is rather famous for her lasagna so I asked her for the recipe so I could try and make my own. I found out that lasagna is actually ridiculously easy to make and the recipe is completely adaptable. This is the recipe I started with, starred items are my notes, the rest are hers:

Barbie's Lasagna
9 Lasagna noodles cooked (*this is half of a package)
1 lb or less ground beef, browned and drained.
1 30 oz jar spaghetti sauce. (I use Prego either the one with Italian sausage, or the Vegetable one), Prego is thicker. (*they don't seem to make this size anymore)
8 0z mozarella cheese grated (honestly I use a pound.)
Cook noodles. Cook meat, and drain grease, add jar of sauce and heat. Layer in baking dish (13x9x2) small amount of sauce on the bottom, then 3 noodles, then meat sauce, then cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Very easy, very yummy!! The more cheese the better!

This is how I adapted the recipe to suit us:

9 Lasagna noodles cooked (this is exactly half of a package, I use Ronzoni Healthy Harvest)
1/2 pound of Farmland Pork N Bacon Sausage (this might be a regional item but you can substitute 1/2 pound of diced bacon) cooked with
1/2 pound of ground turkey (or beef, pork, venison) browned and drained. (I actually cook 1 pound each together then freeze half for use later) 
The resulting meat is much like what you'd find in a bolognese sauce and quite yummy.
I don't recommend using just ground turkey in this recipe, the meat is rather flavorless and you really want that flavor.
1 26-28 oz jar/can spaghetti sauce (I prefer Hunt's Chunky Garden Vegetable)
2 8oz packages of grated mozzarella cheese
12 oz or 1 1/2 cups of lowfat cottage cheese (I used 1/2 of a 24oz container) to which I add
2 tsp of powdered garlic
1 tsp of oregano (you could use Italian seasoning instead but I didn't have any)

Cook noodles. Cook meat, and drain grease, add jar of sauce and heat. Layer in baking dish (13x9x2) small amount of sauce on the bottom, then 3 noodles, then meat sauce, then cheese. Next layer 3 more noodles, a small amount of sauce and then spread the cottage cheese mixture over it and more mozzarella cheese. Then repeat what you did for the first layer. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. (It seems to take longer with the cottage cheese layer added)

This is a cost breakdown 

Pork n Bacon Sausage .50 (bought on sale for 1.00 lb)
Ground Turkey 1.00 (bought for 2.00lb)
Lasagna .75 (on sale for 1.50 package)
Cottage Cheese .50 (on sale for 1.00 for a 24 oz container)
Mozzarella Cheese 2.00 (bought for 1.00 each 8 oz package)
Spaghetti Sauce 1.00 (sometimes this can be bought for even less)
Spices (cost negligible as I already had them in my pantry but you can find them for about 1.00 a jar)

Total 5.75 for 9x13 pan which makes either 3 meals or 2 meals and 2 lunches for hubby.
I freeze half for use at a later date when I don't feel like cooking.
Using these figures I saved $3.25 making it myself and got a far superior product as well.

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