Poor Man’s Lasagna Recipe

March 30, 2014 30 Comments | Disclosure

Easy Pasta Lasagna Freezer Meal!

This is still my husband’s favorite dinner. It is simple and cheap, so I’m totally fine with it. Actually, the whole family likes it a lot, so this meal is really a regular occurrence around here. I first found this recipe in my good old family cookbook and I have adapted it a bit over time.

poor man's lasagna

I usually use penne pasta, but it definitely works with other noodles, like farfalle, fusilli, radiatore and more. In fact, changing up the noodles sometimes makes it feel like a whole new dish to the kids. 😉 In the picture above, I used a tricolor penne (Ronzoni Garden Delight).  Find pasta coupons.

making poor mans lasagna

Keep it simple and easy by using one pot to boil the pasta and then to mix together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, and pasta. The warmth of the pot and cooked noodles also helps to melt the cream cheese into the mixture.

Using a store-bought pasta sauce is easy and also brings some extra flavor. Plus, you can often find sales and coupons to help you bring home the pasta sauce for cheap. Find pasta sauce coupons.

assembling poor mans lasagna for the freezer

Because my family doesn’t eat much at this time, I usually split the poor man’s lasagna between two 8×8 pans. Then I can easily freeze one for later and bake the other for dinner. I have found that the already-baked leftovers freeze okay too, if needed.

Poor Man’s Lasagna Recipe

Rating: 51


  • 8-12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 16 ounces cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 jar red pasta sauce (24 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese


  1. Boil the pasta according to instructions on packaging. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef. I usually add a little bit of Italian seasoning to the meat. Drain the meat. Set aside. Drain the pasta and return noodles to the pot. While the pasta is still warm, add the cream cheese and cottage cheese to the pot with the noodles. Gently stir together until combined.
  2. Layer a 9x13 pan, or split between 8x8 pans, with pasta mixture, meat, and pasta sauce. Repeat. Add shredded cheese on top. (See below for freezer instructions.) Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preparing for the Freezer:
  4. Right after topping with cheese, cover with few layers of plastic wrap. Then cover with foil and label. Freeze.
  5. Prepare after Freezing:
  6. Thaw for about 24 hours in refrigerator, unwrap and bake as usual. Or keep frozen, unwrap, then re-cover with one layer of foil. Bake covered for about 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 350. Bake for about 30 more minutes, until cheese is melted and filling is bubbling and warmed through.


Use less meat to make it even more budget-friendly.


freezer meal poor mans lasagna

More lasagna recipes we’ve posted about:

Learn more about Freezer Meal Cooking:


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to try this. It looks yummy

  2. Pamela Carter says:

    I cooked this dish last night. It was delicious! My daughter loved this as well! Great recipe. It was very inexpensive (used stockpile supply) and we have leftovers for tonight.

  3. I just need cottage cheese … but I can splurge for that cheesy goodness up there! Thanks Melanie!

  4. I made this for dinner- packaged half for another time. Hubby loved it! A great pantry fave!

  5. Joyce Bettridge says:

    I’m going to try it with creamy goat cheese (cream cheese is a no-no for me). I may add a few layers of spinach also. Cant wait to try it!

  6. Any suggestions on what flavor of pasta sauce and what type of cheese? Thanks!

    • Melanie says:

      I usually go with the regular flavor red sauce, or a cheesy one, or garlic-y one. You could really use any flavor you like.
      The cheese is pretty flexible too. I usually use cheddar, or mozzarella, or a combination of both, or a shredded Italian blend.

  7. Do you bake uncovered or covered with foil?

    • When cooking from frozen, I cover with foil for the first little while of baking. Otherwise, I bake uncovered. 🙂

  8. Christine says:

    Do you bake before putting in the freezer?

  9. Christine says:

    Do you bake before freezing? Or after you layer it and top with cheese just cover and put in freezer with baking?

    • Hi, Christine. I freeze it before baking. I updated the recipe wording to try make that part less confusing. (However, the baked leftovers actually freeze fine too.)

  10. Christine says:

    **without baking

  11. Can you substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese? Or some other type of cheese? Hubby can’t stand the taste of cottage cheese..

  12. Crystal says:

    Made this tonight because it’s summer break and I wanted something easy. It was great! My 4 year had two plates of it. I can’t get her to eat anything! Will be making this again.

    • scott olson says:

      now that’s the seal of approval. if a four year old likes it it must be delicious. can’t wait to try mine.

  13. scott olson says:

    Ok, here goes, lol. I’ll let you know how it turns out. already have ideas for the next time. different things to add.

  14. Courtney Herriage says:

    Do you think it would taste just as good with ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese?

  15. Can u use racotta cheese instead of cottage cheese ? And also cream cheese is on several different “do not freeze” lists.

    • Hi, Tammie. You can definitely try ricotta instead of cottage. It will be a bit different in texture and slightly with flavor, but still delicious! Because the cream cheese is all mixed in with other things, it actually does freeze well in this recipe. 🙂

  16. Thank you for this recipe, I have made it several times already because my child LOVES it, well…hubby does too. I haven’t told my son that its made with cottage cheese, and no one can tell the difference. I also substitute the beef with Venison (deer meat) no fat very lean meat.
    Awesome dish !!!

    • Great! You’re welcome and thank you for your nice comment. This recipe is definitely a family favorite here too.

  17. This was delicious – frugal or not. Loved the cheese mixture tossed with the pasta. We used campanelle pasta, Jimmy Dean italian sausage, and Prego sauce. Excellent.


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