Dinner on a Budget: Lasagna with Turkey Meat Sauce

Well, I’ve officially been living in my new apartment for a week, and things are starting to get easier. I’ve figured out which subway lines will get me to the office fastest in the morning, which grocery stores have the best prices for produce, and which pizzerias I do not want to frequent. All important knowledge to have!

One of the things that’s been surprisingly overwhelming for me has been figuring out how to plan weekday meals that are affordable and (somewhat) healthy. You’d think I’d relish the endless opportunities, right?

That’s what I thought, too, until I realized a) just how much food costs. I mean, seriously, how can somebody legitimately charge me $5 for a loaf of bread?! and b) by the time I get home from work, a lot of food stores are closed, and I’m also way too exhausted to feel like tackling a complicated new recipe after a full day at the office.

So after seeking the counsel of some more experienced friends (and after relying on GrubHubone night this past week–I’ll admit it!), I decided to turn spend a few hours this weekend cooking a freezer-friendly meal.

This lasagna is adapted from the recipe my mom has used at home since we were kids. I opted for whole wheat noodles and ground turkey meat to lighten it up a little, but feel free to use regular lasagna pasta and ground beef if that suits your fancy–it would be just as crazy delicious.

(This is also the first meal I baked in our now non-Fugly Oven! And let me tell you, it works beautifully. Still proud. Don’t judge.)

Lasagna with Turkey Meat Sauce

1 small white onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground turkey meat (I used 93% lean)
1 13-oz can tomato sauce (I used Ragu’s Tomato and Basil, since I’m not intrepid enough to make my own sauce…yet)
1 package whole grain lasagna noodles (you’ll need 9 noodles to make the 3 layers)
1 package part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel onion and roughly chop into small pieces (it doesn’t have to be as precise as dicing, just chop to the size you’d like to find in your sauce). If necessary, Google “How to peel an onion” on your iPhone. Not that it was necessary for me to do this.
3. Peel garlic cloves and cut into thin slices. Add onion and garlic to a large saucepan along with extra virgin olive oil. Cook on low-medium heat until onions begin to brown and garlic is fragrant, 8-10 minutes.
4. Begin adding ground turkey to saucepan in small clumps. Make sure your pieces of turkey meat aren’t too big, because you want an even distribution throughout your meat sauce. Also, if they’re too big the pasta won’t lay flat on top of them when you being layering your ingredients. I typically find that a pea- to marble-sized piece is ideal.
5. Continue cooking onions, garlic, and meat until turkey is cooked through (completely browned with no pink left), about 7-8 more minutes. At this point, you can drain your pan of the excess oil and grease if you’d like.
6. Add 3/4 can of tomato sauce to mixture cooking in saucepan. Stir to combine and then cover. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
7. While the sauce is simmering, cook your lasagna noodles as directed on the package (if necessary–my mom always used the no-boilย kind to make life easier!).
8. Spoon a little bit of sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 Pyrex pan (this layer doesn’t need to be thick or have that much meat in it–it’s mostly just to keep the lasagna from sticking when you scoop it out to serve).
9. Layer three noodles across pan. Cover with a layer of meat sauce, sprinkled mozzarella cheese, and grated parmesan.
10. Repeat twice more with remaining noodles, meat sauce, and cheeses.
11. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove foil and cook another 8-10 minutes, until edges are just beginning to brown and cheese is melted and bubbly.
12. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-7 minutes so that lasagna can set (otherwise it’ll fall apart completely when you try to scoop it out. Lasagna soup is not the goal here!).

Enjoy for dinner, then cut into serving-size pieces and freeze for maximum enjoyment all week long. ๐Ÿ™‚

10 thoughts on “Dinner on a Budget: Lasagna with Turkey Meat Sauce

  1. Freezer friendly really is the way to go! Also good is cooking a larger dish on Sunday that you can repurpose for smaller meals later in the week. Our easiest carry over is chicken soup. That week we can make quesadilla's or salad with the chicken, risotto with the broth. Glad you are getting used to the new apartment ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. @Chris– That's exactly what I'm going to try to get in the habit of doing! Cook something bigger up on a free weekend day, and then not have to worry or be stressed out later. It's just a matter of learning how to make things like chicken soup and risotto–there's a lot of savory dishes I've never tried!@Cookin' Canuck & Christina– Thanks!! @Christina (again) & Lauren– Haha, when the lasagna craving strikes, there's no turning back… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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