Meal Planing & Cheap Recipes

Italian Casserole

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Italian Casserole is an effortless dish that is made by layering noodles, sauce, and cheese, and then baking until it is bubbly and delicious.   I use rigatoni, because the big holes in the middle of the noodles fill with sauce and cheese, making every bite scrumptious!

This casserole is very simple, which means you can add whatever vegetables or meat you have on hand—simply add a layer with your new ingredient!  I find that ground beef, spicy sausage, eggplant, and spinach all work very well as add-ins.  We also like to make the dish spicy by adding Sriracha and crushed red peppers to the sauce layers.

However, if you like to keep it simple, it only takes three ingredients to make…and it will cost you only $4 to feed a family of four!  

Talk about cheap eats!

Total Cost*: $3.93

Total Prep and Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Feeds: 4 for a meal, 6-8 as a side dish


  • A one pound box of rigatoni pasta
  • 24 oz traditional pasta sauce
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Fill a stock pot halfway with water, add 1 tbsp of salt (if you like) and bring to a boil.  Add the rigatoni.  Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then strain into a colander.

A little sauce on the bottom—then layer noodles, sauce, and cheese.

Put about a tablespoon of the pasta sauce in a casserole dish, and spread it across the bottom of the dish.  Add a single layer of noodles, cover with sauce, and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese—forming layers.  Continue to layer noodles, sauce and cheese until you are at the top of the dish.  The layers don’t have to be perfectly even—just follow the pattern and make sure you finish with a layer of cheese on the top.

Ready for the oven!

Cover and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese is bubbly.


*Total Cost when traditional pasta sauce ($.99) and mozzarella cheese ($3.29 for 4 cups, or $1.65 for 2 cups) are purchased at Aldi, and store brand rigatoni is purchased at the grocery store ($1.29—The Aldi near my house was out).  Prices may vary by region.

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