Brace yourselves...hubby and I went out on Saturday night. Without the kids. Yes, we did. I know it's hard to believe but we actually got ourselves organized enough to do it and to enjoy it! There was a Home Renovation and Recreational Properties tradeshow in town over the weekend, so we decided to take it in and go out for dinner afterwards. Shane's mom graciously babysat and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
But since I wasn't going to be home for dinner I wanted to make something easy for my MIL to heat up for herself and the boys. I had planned on having Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce on Wednesday night and Meatballs and Rice on Saturday. I decided to switch the meals around and then to make a Baked Spaghetti for Saturday night instead. I looked at a few online recipes for baked spaghetti, but didn't have all the ingredients on hand. So in the spirit of eating- from-the-pantry, I improvised and it turned out great! I want to jot down the recipe here so I can refer to it again.
1 454 gram box spaghetti
1 lb ground beef (if using extra lean there is no need to drain!)
1/2 onion, chopped fine
About 1 tbsp Italian Herb mix (or a little each of Oregano, Rosemary, Basil to taste)
S&P to taste
1 680 ml can or jar favorite pasta sauce
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cheese ( I used a mozza/cheddar combo since that's what I had on hand)
Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 7 or 8 minutes.
While pasta is cooking, brown ground beef along with onions in large pot/skillet until ground beef is cooked through and no longer pink, and onion is translucent. Drain if necessary. Add spices, salt & pepper, pasta sauce and parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes until flavours are combined and mixture is hot.
Drain pasta and return to pot. Add sauce to pasta and toss/stir to coat. Transfer pasta and sauce mixture to a greased 9 x 12 baking dish or to TWO smaller greased casserole dishes (this is what I did and ended up with one meal to eat right away and one to freeze for later!)
Top with shredded cheese and cover. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 - 40 minutes (if cooking the frozen casserole, thaw first and then heat in the oven).
One small casserole served my MIL and my two young boys on Saturday night and we had enough leftover for Sunday night for all four of us, so I would say that a small casserole would serve 4 adult portions, and the large would be double - 8 portions. (Note that I also served garlic bread and salad/veggies & dip with the casserole.) My little guys loved it and cleaned their plates! This is a keeper!
A note on cost...I have been following the $5 Dollar Dinner Mom but because food prices seem to be so much more expensive here in Canada, I haven't pulled off a lot of $5 dinners! But this one was a great deal - especially because it made TWO dinners for us! Here's the approximate breakdown:
1 454 gram box pasta - $1.29
1 lb ground beef - about $1.80
1 680 ml can pasta sauce - $1.33
1/3 cup parm cheese - about $1.25
1 cup shredded cheese - about $2.50
So for around $8.00 I made two hearty casseroles - making each one only $4.00. Not bad! Add veggies or salad and bread and it probably goes just over the $5.00 mark. It has stretched my meal plans too...even though I didn't buy any extra groceries, I now have an additional full meal frozen and waiting to be used on a busy day! And because we ate the leftovers tonight, I still have all the ingredients ready to go for the Chicken and Stuffing bake I already had planned. Love it when that type of thing happens! I feel like - "da-da-da-da...SUPER MOM!"
In an effort to save even more cash, I spent a little time trying to clip and match some coupons today. Thanks to a post on Simply Frugal a while back, I found out that London Drugs allows you to double coupons! I never knew!!! So I took the flyers from the Sunday paper and plotted out my best buys this week. I am heading to London Drugs and Safeway tomorrow (they are next to each other in the mall so I can easily shop at both stores) and will pick up a couple of good deals on Tuesday at Superstore. I will let you know if I am successful at doubling my coupons and how much I actually save! It took me about 45 minutes to sort it all out, so we'll see what my hourly savings are and if it's truly worth it!