Being smart with your money often means passing up on going out to restaurants as often as you’d like, but it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on tasty meals. In fact, some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had were in my own dining room — or in my mother’s dining room because nothing beats Mom’s cooking.
When I moved in with my partner, Nick, cooking became a little more expensive. That’s because Nick has been diagnosed with celiac disease, meaning he can eat absolutely no gluten or even share appliances and utensils with someone who eats it.
Gluten-free bread has proven to be a major expense for our family, so we just make it at home to cut costs. However, we’ve found gluten-free noodles to be relatively inexpensive, which allows us to make a 12-serving lasagna — or six serving if you eat as much as I do — for under $25.
For more than a year, we’ve tweaked our lasagna recipe, trying out different spices, meats and veggies. Below is our recipe in its current form. We’ve found the rosemary gives the meat an interesting flavor and using tomato paste instead of tomato sauce helps thicken the sauce.
If I had my way, we’d cut out the mushrooms, but they’re Nick’s favorite, and add in some spicy peppers. The beauty of this core recipe is that you can easily try new combinations every time.
Gluten-Free Lasagna Recipe
Servings: 12 to 15
1 pound ground beef: $3.29
6 garlic cloves, minced: 15 cents
½ small yellow onion, diced: 25 cents
1 ½ teaspoon rosemary: 50 cents
Salt and pepper to taste4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced (quarter-inch slivers): $1.80
1 12-ounce can tomato paste: 99 cents
1 14.5-ounce can Italian-style stewed tomatoes: 59 cents
2 tablespoons milk: 2 cents
¼ teaspoon oregano: 6 cents
1 ¼ teaspoon thyme: 30 cents1 ½ pounds ricotta cheese: $4
1 ½ cups finely shredded Parmesan cheese: $4.49
2 eggs: 25 cents
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg: 4 cents
2 ½ teaspoons oregano: 63 cents
6 ounces gluten-free oven-ready noodles: $2.55
4 ounces whole white mushrooms, chopped: 99 cents
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced: 38 cents½ pound shredded mozzarella cheese: $2.25
Total Cost: $23.53
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium-sized skillet, combine the ground beef, two garlic cloves and diced onion. Season the mixture with 1 ½ teaspoons of rosemary, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cook on low until the meat is brown.
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sliced vine-ripened tomatoes, Italian-style stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, milk and two garlic cloves. Season the mixture with ¼ teaspoon of oregano and ¼ teaspoon of thyme. Cook on medium and stir periodically.
When the sauce begins to simmer, turn the heat to low. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese. Season the mixture with ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of oregano, 1 teaspoon of thyme, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Mix until uniform.
Mix the browned beef into the sauce. Note: We use lean beef in our recipe, so we do not drain it before combining. You may need to drain meats that are less lean to prevent your lasagna from becoming too greasy.
In a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, spread a thin layer of the meat and sauce combo. Place one layer of gluten-free noodles over this layer of meat and sauce. If using the same brand of noodles we use, Heartland Gluten-Free Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles, four noodle pieces should perfectly cover the dish. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta cheese mixture — roughly ⅓ of the mixture — on top of the noodles.
Repeat the above layering two more times, but with more meat and sauce than before, then top it off with a final layer of sauce.
Sprinkle the chopped mushrooms and the final two cloves of garlic over the top of the lasagna. Sprinkle most of the ½ pound of mozzarella cheese on top, saving just a small handful for the final touch. Place Roma tomato slices atop the lasagna as you would pepperoni on a pizza. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and ½ teaspoon of oregano on top.
Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and cook for 35 minutes. Pull the lasagna from the oven and remove the foil. Place back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
Because gluten-free noodles sometimes take longer to cook, check your noodles to ensure they are thoroughly cooked. Cook longer if necessary.
Let cool for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
Timothy Moore is a writer and editor in Nashville who loves to eat. In fact, he’s been doing it since the day he was born. His favorite foods are burgers, peanut butter, mashed potatoes, ice cream, sour cream and jalapeños — but never all together.
Nicholas Kreider is an interior design and décor small-business owner who sometimes swaps his paintbrush for a spatula. Despite having celiac disease, Nick has a recipe for everything, but he can usually be found making something with Tim’s favorite foods.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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