When our daughter Allison was born, we were on a tight budget. For a whole year, I fed our family for $37.00 a week. It was super hard, but through the grace of God we managed to do it.
I relied a lot on really cheap meals, like pasta, rice, and beans. Meals that had a ton of ingredients were definitely out, so I tried to make things as simple as possible.
Since pasta is a family favorite here, that was a definite staple every week. And I tried to mix things up by cooking it in different ways- including baking it.
This Budget Pasta Bake has only 3 ingredients. And although it’s super simple, it makes a ton and will keep you full. It’s an easy weeknight meal you can add next week to your meal plan!
Scroll to the bottom to get to the recipe card, or keep reading to see what else you can add!
How cheap is this recipe?
This is definitely one of the top budget meals. It’s made with cheap ingredients that you can find pretty much anywhere, with the most expensive ingredient being cheese.
Here’s a breakdown of what each item costs:
- 16 ounce box of pasta: $1.00
- 28 ounce jar of pasta sauce: $1.89
- 16 ounce bag of shredded mozzarella: $3.79
Keep in mind that you won’t use the entire package of pasta OR cheese, so you can use that in other recipes.
With only the ingredients used, this recipe equals about $4.29, or $.85 per serving if you divide it into 5.
This, of course, will vary depending on where you live. But it’s a pretty good average!
Pasta- I used penne pasta, but any kind will work
Like I said, I tried to make meals with very few ingredients. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it this way every time. Here are some things you can add:
- Meat: Ground beef and ground turkey are good options
- Parmesan cheese
- Extra seasonings: Pasta sauce is seasoned but you can add more like basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Sauce: I used a simple jarred spaghetti sauce. You can use your favorite tomato sauce blend or meat sauce. Or if you want to kick things up a bit, maybe try Alfredo sauce instead!
How to make
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Boil water in a large pot, then add the pasta. Reduce heat and cook until the pasta is tender.
Drain pasta and add to an 8×8 casserole dish that’s greased with cooking spray. Pour the marinara sauce on top and combine.
Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese melts and is bubbly.
Divide and serve with your favorite sides.
How to store
Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll stay fresh 3-5 days.
The next day, you can reheat in the microwave or even in your oven, whichever works better for you.
What to serve with this
I typically serve pasta dishes with a frozen vegetable side! Usually frozen broccoli. I’ll also serve it with a simple side salad and garlic bread.
More easy pasta recipes
The following are relatively healthy recipes that the whole family will enjoy! These are tried-and-true meals I make as often as possible.
- One Pot Zucchini and Mushroom Pasta
- Meaty Marinara Pasta
- Freezer Pasta Microwave Lunches
- 4-Ingredient Crockpot Ravioli
- 12 ounces penne, uncooked
- 28-ounce jar marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil water in a large pot, then add the pasta. Reduce heat and cook until the pasta is tender.
- Drain pasta and add to an 8x8 casserole dish. Pour the marinara sauce on top and combine.
- Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese has fully melted.
- Divide and serve with your favorite sides.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 1043mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 15g
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.