Poor Man’s Lasagna Recipe (Oven and Air Fryer Instructions)

4.49 / 5 ( 25 Reviews )
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poor man's meal - easy lasagna recipe

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!

easy pasta lasagna recipe with cream cheese and cottage cheese

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. 😉

poor man's lasagna - easy freezer meal lasagna recipe

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.

penne pasta lasagna casserole recipe

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.

cheap lasagna recipe

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Easy, cheap lasagna recipe - poor man's meal

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Easy and cheap poor man's lasagna recipe

poor man's meal - easy lasagna recipe

Poor Man's Lasagna Recipe

One of my husband's favorite meals! Super easy, frugal, and delicious poor man's lasagna!
4.49 / 5 ( 25 Reviews )
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 12
Adjust Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 610mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g

Ingredients: Beef, Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Italian Seasoning, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Turkey
Meal Type: Main Dish, Fall, Father's Day, Spring, Summer, Winter, Egg Free
Categories: Casserole, Meat and Poultry, Pasta, Make Ahead/Freezer Meal, Oven

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