A few months ago I wrote a post about how I wanted to simplify weekday dinners, and how I was going to come up with a one-month menu similar to what you get from the kids’ schools each month.
I haven’t forgotten about that. It’s just taking me a while to get my sh*t together.
I had said in that post that I was going to come up with 7 meals that I’d rotate, but for the next four weeks, I decided on ten.
About half of them all use some of the same components and I’m just serving them in different ways, so it’s more like I really have to prepare five things but I can vary them to make ten different meals.
I’m not quite done with that post, but in the meantime, I wanted to share one of the meals on this rotation.
I did recently profess my love for Aldi, but I got everything I needed for this plan at Costco because I didn’t have time to go to multiple places to shop.
And one of the goals of making dinner this way is to save time.
This first meal definitely saves time.
I call it Cheater Lasagna.
If you are a hard core, old school Italian, then you won’t like this one bit, and your Italian grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave just at the thought of this.
And it you are all organic or gluten free or a vegan or doing Whole30 or dairy-free or whatever else restricts you from eating certain foods, then this isn’t for you.
But if you are like me, if you are aiming for making food that isn’t total crap and fairly balanced (but not totally perfect), if you have crazy afternoons and you could use a couple shortcuts, then give this a try.
First, I do make my own sauce. I get all the ingredients from Costco. There are only two ingredients in it, it doesn’t take long to make, it tastes delicious, and it’s super inexpensive.
You can get that recipe here:
Costco sells big ass bags of mozzarella cheese and also a big bag of ravioli. You won’t use all the mozzarella cheese in the package for the lasagna, but you will use some of it in a couple other of the meals for the month, and then freeze the rest for later use.
We like meat in our lasagna, so I also use ground turkey in this.
Since we are cheating and using ravioli, you eliminate the need for ricotta cheese and egg.
And these are the only four ingredients you need for this recipe:
- 2-3 jars of sauce
- 1 Bag Ravioli (I forgot to take a picture of it, but it’s not organic and it doesn’t have spinach in it — just plain, 4-cheese Kirkland ravioli)
- appx eight cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- appx 2 lbs. ground turkey
That’s enough for a double batch. But each tray you make feeds eight (we ate one for dinner last night and it was just enough with nothing left over but everyone having enough to eat. So for a family of four, this will give you more like 4 meals as opposed to the two we get. Total prep and assembly time takes appx 20 minutes and you get two dinners (at least) out of it!
Here’s what you do:
- Bring a big pot of water to boil.
- While the water is heating up, brown the turkey.
- Cook entire bag of ravioli. I under cook it a little bit because it’s going in the oven after.
- Drain ground turkey and mix with sauce.
- Then layer in 2 pans. I use the disposable foil ones because you can easily throw them in the freezer. (Costco also sells those).
- Start by putting meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.
- Then layer ravioli. Nine of them fit perfectly in each layer.
- Cover ravioli with sauce, then cover with appx one cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat that so you have three layers of ravioli with the top covered with sauce and cheese. There will only be twelve ravioli left for the top layer, so turn them horizontally (and those little dents in that one ravioli in the upper left corner are from where it was squished against the bottom of the colander).
- Bake covered at 350° for appx 30 minutes and then uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.
- Eat one, and freeze the other. If you don’t have a family eight and have some left over, you can freeze the leftovers, put them in a thermos for the kids’ lunches, or eat them later in the week on leftover night.
Each tray makes 8 servings, so this makes a total of 16 servings.
3 jars sauce (if homemade using my recipe) $ 3.45
2 lbs ground turkey (1/1/2 packages) appx $ 6.00
8 cups mozzarella cheese appx $ 2.00
1 bag ravioli $10.99
Total cost: $ 22.44
Cost per serving: $1.40
It may not be authentic, but it’s still good, and every person in this house loves it!
Two nights down, 28 to go — stay tuned for the rest — they’re coming soon!