Cooking on a Shoestring: Poor Man’s Lasagna Recipe

Poor Man's Lasagna Recipe Sisters Shopping on a ShoestringPoor Man’s Lasagna Recipe

In our family, we have two different lasagna recipes.  Grandma’s lasagna (my mom’s) is a delicious traditional one, but with all the meat, cheese, and other ingredients, the cost can add up.  Nana’s (my mother-in-law’s) recipe is equally delicious and gets just as many requests from my hungry crew, and with a name like Poor Man’s Lasagna, you know it’ll fit into a shoestring budget.

The recipe calls for regular lasagna noodles, but I find that those are often excluded from the best sales or coupons.  Once when my kids were begging for this but all I had were rotini noodles, I just threw the pasta and meat sauce together and spread the cheese mixture on top.  It worked great–in some ways even better since I didn’t have to take the time to layer the noodles, and when it was done I didn’t have to cut the kids’ lasagna into bite-sized pieces before serving!  So now I make it with whatever’s in my stockpile.  Rotini, farfalle (bowtie–pictured above), rigatoni, small shells; any thicker, bite-sized pasta should work fine, as well as the traditional lasagna noodles.  The smaller pasta also works well if you want to divide it into two smaller baking dishes and freeze some for later.

If you’ve never tried this before, the combination might sound a little weird, but it’s a favorite around here.  Simple to make, hearty, and yummy.  Let me know what you think!

Cooking with Coupons
  • 1-1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 box pasta (lasagna noodles or other style mentioned above)
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (about 24 oz. size)
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
  • 8-12 oz. sour cream
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta cooks, brown the ground beef and season to taste with garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, onion (whatever you like to use).
  3. Drain any fat, and add sauce to the ground beef. Simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Soften cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Stir in sour cream and mix until creamy.
  5. If using lasagna noodles, spread ⅓ of meat sauce in a 9 x 13 pan. Layer noodles on top, then repeat twice (3 layers of sauce, 3 layers of noodles). For other pasta varieties, mix pasta with meat sauce, then spread in pan or casserole dish.
  6. Spread cream cheese mixture over the top of the noodles.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes--sauce will be bubbly and topping will be very lightly browned.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese when served.




  1. meg says

    I tried this the first time you posted it and it is really simple and delicious! I look forward to all your recipes!

    • Megan says

      Glad you enjoyed it–it’s one of the recipes all six of us eat without complaints (usually there’s at least someone who objects to something, but not this meal!) I made a double batch this time around, so I’m already looking forward to a few weeks from now when I can pull it out of the freezer with zero prep and minimal cleanup, and have something everyone will eat. Quicker and easier than hitting a drive thru! :)

  2. Karla says

    Hi Megan,

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I asked about this recipe last time you included it in you weekly meal plan, so glad you posted. Thanks :) Look forward to making it soon. I just want to thank you for your time and dedication on this blog. I just recently started following and I am really enjoying the variety of information you provide. Working on becoming just a little bit like the Proverbs 31 woman and your site sure helps a ton!!!! God bless you and your family :)

  3. kim says

    So funny…..growing up my mom used to make Poor Man Spaghetti, it was pasta with just stewed tomatoes and no meat. If there were any leftovers the next day she would just fry it in a skillet with some butter….MMMM it was so good.

    • Megan says

      Isn’t it funny the different “recipes” we grow up with that really aren’t anything fancy or Pinterest-y, but they’re sooo good?! :) Love those memories!

  4. Sandy says

    I love seeing ways to save, even for one person, you can always cut in portions and freeze foe later use. I remember my Grandfather would make coffeesoup .He would break bread in a soup bowl sprinkle sugar over it and pour his coffee over it ad eat it. I use to think it was just because he liked it, but now I think t was another way of saving money and not letting on how hard it may have been for him to keep a roof over our head,because my mom and we four children lived with both Grandma and Grandad after our Dad left. So gratefull for that and we never know who needs to know how to save. That’s what you do and thankyou so much!

    • Megan says

      Thanks for sharing, Sandy! We have stories in our family about “mustard sandwiches” and other “recipes” to stretch food when times were tough…I feel blessed to have enough pennies to pinch, and when I want to complain about folding a mountain of laundry for my family of 6 like I did yesterday, I try to turn it around and be grateful that we have enough clothing. Same thing for the sink full of dishes calling my name right now…as much as I don’t particularly love washing them up, it means we were blessed enough to cook and eat a decent dinner last night and breakfast this morning. Have a great day!


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