Easy Breezy Beautiful

Cover Girl Lasagna.

I’m a fan of make-ahead meals.

During a busy week, my make-ahead meals are a life saver, a budget saver and a health saver.

Instead of ordering pizza or grabbing something on the way home, I can come home, open the freezer and bake a main dish within an hour.

My favorite make-ahead meal:  Lasagna.

After several attempts with several recipes, this is my absolute favorite.

While it isn’t the easiest to put together and requires some time on my part, it is quite worth it.

I never get tired of lasagna.  I can have it for a week-straight – lunch and dinner – which is exactly how long this recipe lasts.

My Favorite Lasagna
adapted from here


  • 1.5 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 12 lasagna noodles *I buy the ones you do not have to pre-boil
  • 16 oz skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat a dutch oven (or large pot) over medium-high heat.
  2. Once pot is hot, add olive oil and wait for it to heat up.
  3. Once oil is hot, add onions and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add ground beef.  Cook until browned.
  5. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  6. Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 T salt, pepper and 2 T parsley.
  7. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  9. Make ricotta mixture:  combine ricotta cheese, egg, 2 T parsley and nutmeg.
  10. Assemble in the following layers:  (a) 1.5 cups of meat sauce at the bottom of the lasagna dish, (b) arrange approximately 6 noodles to cover the meat sauce, (c) add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture to the noodles and spread evenly, (d) add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices, (e) add 1.5 cups of meat sauce over the cheese slices, (f) sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese over the meat sauce, (g) arrange another 6 noodles to cover the top, (h) add remaining 1/2 of the ricotta mixture to the noodles and spread evenly, (i) add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese slices, (j) add 1.5 cup of the meat sauce over the cheese, (k) add remaining mozzarella cheese slices, (l) sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
  11. Spray foil with non-stick spray and cover the lasagna dish.
  12. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Are you a fan of make-ahead meals?  What’s your make-ahead meal?



Filed under baking, Favorites, Italian

20 responses to “Easy Breezy Beautiful

  1. I love make ahead meals, though I don’t seem to do it very often. I usually do stir-fries and soups, especially turkey chili.

  2. Oh my gosh, I *love* lasagna. I could eat an entire dish of it right now. Yours looks perfect, too. I hate when people try to fancy up their lasagna. It’s one of those things that is perfect when it’s simple.

  3. I LOVE make ahead meals, because I don’t always know when Jason is going to be home… I think my favorite in ‘casserole style’ would be enchiladas. We also love bowls with quinoa or rice, beans, veggies – those are really easy to throw together. Slow cooker things like soups and chili – yum!

  4. Girl, I love that you make your sauce from scratch! It’s so easy and people don’t even know that it takes just a little time. I found out that you can buy regular lasagna noodles and soak them in hot water for 15-20 minutes before assembling – this lets them cook faster, they soak up a little less sauce and they don’t burn your fingerprints off. All good things, unless you’re planning on robbing a bank.

  5. Mmmmmmmm……..lasagna! My favorite make ahead meal is chili!

  6. Make-ahead meals are the best! And lasagna is definitely one of my favorites… This looks fabulous 🙂

  7. kathleen

    I like to make pizza dough, pasta sauce, enchilada to freeze so that there’s a lot less prep work to do for a meal. Also, I cook up a big batch of brown rice and dried beans once a week. I try to make it easy on myself but sometimes doing the work to freeze the meal to make later in the week easier is too much work =) also, I have some make and save for laters. Sometimes my husband will want something and then not feel like finishing the leftovers so I will throw it in the freezer for later.

  8. I love make ahead meals too 🙂 But for some reason, I’ve NEVER made lasagna before. Definitely going to try this some time soon!

  9. Lasagna is one of those awesome things that freeze perfectly! I love it and for a change, Maya and Ali do too! Now if only I could figure out a gluten-free lasagna that tastes halfway decent…

    • The way I’ve done this is like one of the other commenters said – to replace the pasta with eggplant strips. It obviously is a bit different but I love eggplant so it works for me! 🙂

  10. Amazing. I’ve never made lasagna myself- always live off the stuff my mom makes and freezes for me. Which reminds me I should call my mom today…

  11. I love make ahead meals….but I don’t do it 🙂

    The lasagna looks so yummy!

  12. yum lasagna!!! i cant wait to make it with eggplant or zucchini strips !!

  13. I live for make ahead meals! I get off work at 8, so if I don’t have something easy to grab, I’ll end up eating a huge amount of absolute crap!

  14. Yum! I love a make-ahead. Truthfully, I’ve never found a good lasagne recipe so I’m excited to give this one a try. We are all lasagne lovers here! The only make-ahead I turn to time and time again is an egg strata…. do cookies and cakes count? =)

  15. Pingback: Buttermilk Cornbread | OliePants

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