Since wrapping up the TLC filming
this weekend, I have been ex-HAUS-ted. I haven't been grocery shopping
in weeks because I was on vacation for one week just days before the camera crew arrived.
My family is SICK of PB&J's so last night I decided to get creative and come up with
a complete dinner, using only things I had in the fridge/freezer/pantry. Bonus? I also got a freezer meal out of it!
The other day a BIG frozen container of spaghetti sauce and meatballs (leftover from a big spaghetti dinner I made when family was in town) fell out of my freezer, and the lid broke off. My inital thought was to toss it directly in the trash. BUT, being OCD about never wasting ANYTHING, I set the broken container in a bowl and left it in my fridge until I found a creative way to use it (after all, that is the “C” in the F.A.C.T's of saving
, isn't it?!)
We recently ate spaghetti, and it was waaay too much sauce to use for just pasta alone, so I decided to go for a family favorite…
P.S…I had to cut into this and feed my kids the MOMENT it came out of the oven, thus the corner completely caved in. Definitely let your lasagna rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting it to avoid a river of cheesy deliciousness!
I wanted to try a new recipe, so I went to my America's Test Kitchen
book, and it never fails me on providing great recipes.
The recipe called for a 9×13 pan, but I added a little extra of everything and made it stretch. Thus, I baked a 9×13 pan for dinner, then had enough to make a 2nd pan to put in my freezer! I added a can of store-bought sauce to help stretch it…that I price-matched
(of course :P).
The freezer container was from a meal that someone brought me when I had Beck
. I washed and saved it, precisely for a moment like this. However, the Dollar Store and even Walmart have great disposable containers that you can buy. Buy one or two each time you go. For heaven's sake, if you're going to take the time to cook it, DOUBLE IT and FREEZE IT! You will thank yourself on a busy day when this saves you from impulsively ordering takeout.
I used some lasagna noodles from my pantry that I had price-matched for $0.79 (SCREAMING DEAL).
I fished the meatballs out of my freezer sauce,
…and chopped them up! Voila, meat lasagna.
Looks gross, tastes amazing.
For the “ricotta”, I used a frozen container of cottage cheese that I had stocked up on when I was able to price-match it for a good deal a few months ago.
Did you know you could freeze cottage cheese? You can!
Once thawed, it makes a great substitution for ricotta. The texture breaks down more like ricotta once it's been frozen, it's a nice low-fat option, and it's much, cheaper!
I nuked the frozen cottage cheese for a minute or two in the microwave, and ta-da!
For the mozzarella I used a 2lb brick that I price-matched a few weeks ago and needed to use up.
The bonus pan I made I covered in foil BEFORE putting the plastic lid on. I wrote the instructions on the foil so I could remember what it is and how to bake it,
…then baked a hot, bubbly, cheesy goodness-y pan for us to eat for dinner!
It was SO. DANG. GOOD. Definitely one of the best lasagna's I've ever made. Surprisingly, the most delicious part? How MEATY it was from the chopped up meat balls! I even had garlic bread from the discount bread isle
that I pulled from the freezer, chopped up random veggies I had on-hand to make a salad, and called it a night! I not only cleaned out my fridge, but got a freezer meal, and satisfied my family with a YUMMY, home-made meal.
My (all-too-picky) kids kept saying, “mommy this is good!”, which in mommy-cooking world, basically gives it 5-stars. *patting myself on the back*
Note: Unfortunately, I won't be able to provide the lasagna recipe that I used. My version was FAR too adapted for it to make any sense, and I can't find the ATK lasagna recipe online so I don't feel like I should copy it from the book and share it on my own website. But the concept should work for ANY lasagna recipe! Use what you have, stock up when it's on sale, and freeze, freeze, freeze.
Don't have a favorite lasagna recipe? Use allrecipes.com and find a top-rated one on there!
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