Cheap, Healthy Pasta Bake Meal for Family of Five

Dear Diary,

My husband noticed an increase in our grocery bill and when he called it out I felt the desire to instantly defend all my grocery shopping choices. “I want to feed our family healthy, clean meals!” “I can’t dig through coupons with the kids crawling out of the cart!” There was actually no reason for me to defend my choices, he wasn’t asking me to spend less but it did make me decide to play a proactive role to start putting more budget-friendly recipes on our weekly meal plans. I put together 5 meals that I will share individually and then share in one post. Each of the meals cost around $10 to make and fed my whole family. Now, some of them have a bit of a variation to make the whole family happy and I did not include staples like seasonings, olive oil, etc. into the overall meal cost.

The first one fit perfectly into our Meatless Monday meal plan, Easy Pasta Bake! It’s probably already a meal you have in your recipe book but this uses organic options that my family loves & at a great price!

Not only did this meal feed and please my party of five but there were a ton of leftovers for my little man Luke. I will also call-out that you need to save about 2-4 tablespoons of the spaghetti sauce for the meal planned later in the week. From start to finish, this only took about 30 minutes, another reason I love this recipe! I wasn’t even able to take a pic of the finished product because everyone was already digging in by the time I grabbed my phone. Winning!

One note, I used fat-free mozzarella cheese. I do not think I will use it again, it does not melt or bubble the way I prefer.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Organic Whole Wheat Penne Pasta $1.29 a box
  • 1 jar of Organic Four Cheese Pasta Sauce $2.29 a bottle
  • 1 medium to large organic zucchini, diced $0.81
  • 1 8 oz bag of fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese $1.99 a bag
  • Medium-Sized Whole Wheat Baguette from the grocery bakery $1.29

Total Cost: $7.67

Directions:

  1. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped zucchini to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and lightly browned, stirring every minute. 

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  1. While the zucchini is sauteing, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta.
  2. Combine penne pasta, the sauce (make sure you save some), 1 1/2 cups of cheese and zucchini into a greased baking dish (I used a large round but a 9×13 would work too) Sprinkle top with remaining cheese.

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  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Enjoy!
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