Poor Man’s Lasagna Recipe (Oven and Air Fryer Instructions)
Easy, cheap lasagna recipe the whole family will love!
Poor Man’s Lasagna is my husband’s favorite dinner! Actually, the whole family likes it a lot, so this poor man’s meal makes a fairly regular appearance on the dinner table and as a freezer meal.
You certainly don’t have to be a poor man to enjoy this easy, cheap lasagna recipe though!
What can I use instead of lasagna?
I usually use penne pasta, but it definitely works with other pasta noodles, like farfalle, fusilli, radiatore and more. In fact, changing up the noodles sometimes makes it feel like a whole new meal to the kids. 😉
Easy Poor Man’s Meal
Keep it simple and easy by mixing the cream cheese and cottage cheese with the pasta right in the same pot used for boiling the pasta. After you’ve drained the pasta water, of course. (I use a 5-quart pot.)
The warmth of the pot and cooked pasta also helps to melt the cream cheese into the mixture.
Using a store-bought pasta sauce is a super easy option! Just open the jar and pour it on! Plus, you can often find sales and coupons to help you get the pasta sauce for cheap.
However, if you’d rather use a thick homemade pasta sauce, go for it! Just note that the flavor of your lasagna casserole will be affected by the sauce that you use.
What pan do I use for Lasagna?
Sometimes I split the poor man’s meal between two 8×8 pans, because one 8×8 is plenty for my family. Then I freeze the other 8×8 for later or to give to someone else!
Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the pan and depth of the casserole.
Can I make lasagna in the air fryer?
This meal is also perfect for the air fryer. If you have an air fryer, you can make this cheap meal for less than $1 per serving. Additionally, in the air fryer, this meal won’t heat up your house!
Air Fryer Instructions
Make the recipe as written. But, make sure you use a 8×8 pan, or any oven safe dish that will fit in your air fryer basket.
When you are ready to cook in the air fryer, first preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes at 400°F/200°C. Then, place the pan in the air fryer basket and let it sit in there for about 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is mostly melted. (This will make it so the cheese won’t fly up into the heating element!)
Then, cook for 15 minutes at 330°F/165°C.
Can I freeze lasagna?
This recipe makes a great freezer meal! I like to split the portions in half, one to eat now and one to save for later. I use an aluminum pan and layer the lasagna as described. Then, I wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, followed up heavy duty aluminum foil.
The lasagna will be good for 2-3 months.
Frozen Lasagna Oven Instructions
When you are ready to cook the lasagna from frozen, remove it from the freezer and 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 or 150 degrees Celsius. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 350°F/175°C. Bake for about 30 more minutes, until cheese is melted and filling is bubbling and warmed through.
Frozen Lasagna Air Fryer Instructions
When you are ready to cook the lasagna from frozen, remove it from the freezer and thaw for about 24 hours in refrigerator, unwrap and air fry as usual.
Or keep frozen, unwrap, then re-cover with one layer of foil. Air fry covered for about 30 minutes at 300 degrees or 150 degrees Celsius. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 350°F/175°C. Bake for about 1o more minutes, or until cheese is melted and filling is bubbling and warmed through.
This easy and cheap lasagna recipe just hits the spot! It is a quick and inexpensive meal, which we so love with inflation happening! Plus, it is filling, so easy to make, and only costs about 86 cents per serving! Now that is fabulous!
Share with us in the comments below what you love about this recipe!
You might also like these recipes:
Side dish recipes to go with lasagna:
- Easy Breadsticks
- One-Hour Rolls
- Crazy Bread Copycat Recipe
- Green Salad with Homemade Zesty Italian Dressing
- Best Roasted Asparagus
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Poor Man's Lasagna Recipe
- 12 to 14 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 16 ounces cottage cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 24 ounce jar red pasta sauce
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheese for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Boil the pasta according to instructions on packaging.
- Meanwhile, brown the ground beef, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Stir in the Italian seasoning before the meat is done cooking. Drain the grease, if needed. Set aside.
- Drain the water from the pasta and return it to the pot. While the pasta is still warm, add the cream cheese and cottage cheese and gently stir until combined.
- Layer a 9x13 pan (or two 8x8 pans) with half of the pasta mixture, meat, and pasta sauce. Repeat. Add shredded cheese on top. (See below for freezer instructions.) Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, until warmed through.
Preparing for the Freezer:
- Right after topping with cheese (and before baking), cover with few layers of plastic wrap. Then cover with foil. Label and freeze.
Prepare after Freezing:
- 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°F/150°C. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 350°F/175°C. Bake for about 30 more minutes, until cheese is melted and filling is bubbling and warmed through.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Make the recipe as written. But, make sure you use a 8x8 pan, or any oven safe dish that will fit in your air fryer basket.
- When you are ready to cook in the air fryer, first preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes at 400°F/200°C. Then, place the pan in the air fryer basket and let it sit in there for about 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is mostly melted. (This will make it so the cheese won't fly up into the heating element!)
- Then, cook for 15 minutes at 330°F/165°C.
After Freezing Air Fryer Instructions
- When you are ready to cook the lasagna from frozen, remove it from the freezer and thaw for about 24 hours in refrigerator, unwrap and air fry as usual.
- Or keep frozen, unwrap, then re-cover with one layer of foil. Air fry covered for about 30 minutes at 300°C/150°C. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 350°F/175°C. Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and filling is bubbling and warmed through.
Comments & Reviews
Thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to try this. It looks yummy
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.
Glad to hear you like it too!
I just need cottage cheese … but I can splurge for that cheesy goodness up there! Thanks Melanie!
I made this for dinner- packaged half for another time. Hubby loved it! A great pantry fave!
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!
That sounds pretty good! Hope you like it!
Any suggestions on what flavor of pasta sauce and what type of cheese? Thanks!
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.
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. 🙂
Do you bake before putting in the freezer?
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.)
Can you substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese? Or some other type of cheese? Hubby can’t stand the taste of cottage cheese..
Yes, I think you could definitely sub ricotta for the cottage cheese. It will be delicious, I’m sure!
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.
now that’s the seal of approval. if a four year old likes it it must be delicious. can’t wait to try mine.
Ok, here goes, lol. I’ll let you know how it turns out. already have ideas for the next time. different things to add.
Hope it turned out great for you!
Do you think it would taste just as good with ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese?
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. 🙂
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.
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.
Yum, sausage would be great in there! Thanks for your comment, Jen!
*****Best lasagna recipe! I made this for my extended family with ages ranging from 4 years old to 85 years old and everyone absolutely loved it! I have numerous requests to make it again. Can’t thank you enough for a simple, delicious and now a favorite go to!
Awesome!! It is still one of my family’s favorites and I love how easy it is to make. 🙂 So glad it is now a favorite for you too! Thanks!
What is the serving size that is related to the nutrition facts? I assume that if you make this in two pans then each pan feeds 4-5 so roughly 1/5 or 1/4 of the 8×8 pan is a serving? Thank you!
I just updated it to show 12 servings in one 9×13 pan. So it would be about 1 cup per serving. I hope this helps!
I made this for dinner last night. As there are only two of us, I used 4 foil pans with lids (2.25 lb) 7.91 in x 1.77 in from Dollar Tree. Three were covered with their lids and one I baked for dinner. This gives me 3 ready to bake dinners. We loved the recipe. As we are mainly plant based I used plant based crumbles, added the Italian seasoning and about 1 cup of diced onion and 2 cloves of garlic. I then added the red sauce. To the pasta I used a collander to put in about 2 cups of chopped spinach the last few minutes of cooking. Removed it and then squeezed out excess water. Added this to the pasta with the cottage cheese and cream cheese. Layered the pasta, sauce, pasta, sauce and cheese. It was really easy and so tasty. Will definitely make this again. The smaller pans also fit in my air fryer oven and I will take one of the frozen dinners when we go camping and reheat in my air fryer. I don’t use the trailer oven as it heats up the entire unit, but use my airfryer for almost everything. Keep putting out great, easy recipes and love your cookbook.
Hey Carol, thank you so much for this review and for sharing the adjustments you made! Love it!