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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homemade Meat Lasagna vs Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat and Sauce

I love lasagna, and I usually only like my own. However, if I were to buy it I would buy Stouffer's because I think they offer a product that tastes reasonably good. I don't make lasagna much for a couple of reasons, 1) it's a lot of food (but you can cut it up into squares and freeze it for a quick meal on another night) and 2) it's hot here in Arizona a lot of the year and I don't like to use the oven when it's hot, especially since I have no evaporative cooler or air conditioner.

I also don't usually make meat lasagna because I don't care for meat sauces in general, and my lasagna uses 3 cheeses so I couldn't compare to the 5 cheese lasagna so I went ahead and figured costs for a home made meat lasagna against Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat Sauce. It should be noted that Stouffer's Meat Lasagna only uses 2 cheeses compared to my 3 cheeses and weighs in at nearly 2 pounds less food. I suspect that they don't use a whole pound of beef in their lasagna, so it's more "meat flavored" than actually meat lasagna.

If you're vegetarian, you can make this same recipe just omitting the meat and/or using textured vegetable protein. You can also add vegetables to make a vegetable lasagna – popular vegetables for lasagna are spinach, zucchini, squash, carrots and peas. For a different taste you can use romano cheese and/or asiago cheese, instead of/or in addition to the parmesan. I'd also recommend trying a whole grain lasagna noodle, it's healthier (more fiber and less refined flour) and you'll never notice the difference.

Homemade Lasagna – Makes about 11 – 1 cup servings
1 pound uncooked lasagna noodles
2 qts tomato sauce (recipe in Sept 4, 2011 post, you should have it if you stored the extra in your freezer)
1 pound ground beef (or 2 c reconstituted textured vegetable protein)
1 pound ricotta cheese
2/3 c real grated parmesan cheese
¾ pound grated mozzarella cheese, reserve about ½ c for topping
1 egg
1 Tbl parsley
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Brown ground beef, and drain. In a separate bowl mix all the cheeses, the egg and the spices. Spoon a thin layer of sauce into an ungreased 13x9x2 baking pan and arrange a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping. Add another thin layer of sauce, top with 1/3 of the meat and a 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Continue building up layers until all of the ingredients are in the pan, ending with sauce and then sprinkle the reserved ½ c of mozzarella on top.* Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Cut into squares and serve.

*(Note: Recipe can be prepared to this point, covered and frozen or kept in the refrigerator for a few days until you are ready to cook it. Bring to room temperature before cooking.)

According to Stouffer's their 57 oz package makes 7 servings. So this recipe would make about 11 servings.

Price of home made lasagna: $16.79 – 88 oz, 19 cents an ounce
Price of Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat and Sauce: $13.19 – 57 oz, 23 cents an ounce or $20.24 for the same size as home made.

Ingredients for home made lasagna: Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, ground beef, lasagna noodles, parsley, garlic powder, egg, salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat and Sauce: Tomato puree, blanched macaroni product, part skim mozzarella cheese, modified cornstarch, nonfat milk, flavors, beef, water, dry curd cottage cheese, salt, wheat flour, dehydrated onions, sugar, spices, seasonings (soy sauce, autolyzed yeast extract, dextrose, soybean oil), dehydrated garlic, yeast extract, carrageenan.

Time to prepare home made: Approx. 10-15 minutes to brown meat and mix cheeses, 5 minutes to put together and 35-45 minutes to bake. Total 60 minutes
Time to prepare Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat and Sauce: 80 minutes

Alright! Here's a great example, we've created a meal 20 minutes faster than using a frozen lasagna, saved $3.45 and your not eating modified cornstarch, nonfat dry milk, flavors (what does that really mean?), wheat flour, yeast extract or carrageenan.

**LOW-SODIUM UPDATE – Two things are very obvious here, one is that neither of these are low sodium (no surprise there) and the second is that something is seriously wrong with either my serving size or Stouffer's ingredients. More than likely my lasagna would serve at least 12 instead of 11 AND Stouffer's probably doesn't use as much cheese or meat in their lasagna as I do. Isn't it amazing though that even with all of the extra calories, cholesterol and carbs in mine that the sodium in mine is still lower than Stouffer's! I will be leaving this recipe the same because it tastes good. But I will be trying to develop a healthier recipe in the future. No matter what though because of the cheese and noodles in lasagna, it will never be low sodium or low carb. July 10, 2013**

Nutritional Data for Homemade Lasagna – per 1 cup serving
Calories 454
Fat 17.7g
Saturated Fat 6.7g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 88 mg
Sodium 550 mg
Potassium 163 mg
Carbohydrate 46g
Fiber 4.6g
Sugar 11.1g
Protein 28.6g
Vitamin A 7%
Vitamin C .6%
Calcium 29.4%
Iron 13.7%

Nutritional Data for Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat Sauce – per 1 cup serving
Calories 290
Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 4.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 670 mg
Potassium *unreported
Carbohydrate 30g
Fiber 3g
Sugar 6g
Protein 23g
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 15%
Iron 10%

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