Apr 25 11
by cara
at 8:22 PM
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Manicotti Italian Casserole

This week I’m doing a mini Eat From the Pantry/Freezer Challenge, and this Manicotti Italian Casserole is one of the meals we’ve got in our freezer right now.

Why the mini challenge?  At the beginning of April, The Picky Apple and I sat down and talked through a monthly budget.  Not just for groceries (which we’ve done before, but never really stuck to), but for everything.  We’re trying to reign in all of the mindless $10 here, $100 there at places like Target (me), Amazon (um, me again) and dining out.  We review our transactions every other night to see where we stand.  This is the first month in our marriage (7 years) I can say with certainty “we have $X left to spend on groceries, I have $X “fun money” left for the month, we can go out to eat as a family this weekend because we have $X left in our dining out budget for the month.”  Granted, this is still our first month of sticking to a budget, but instead of feeling overly restricted, I find it amazingly freeing and a fun little challenge.  We’ll see how I feel about it in a few more months!

So, this week is Eat from the Freezer and Pantry because we’re $11 over budget for groceries with 5 days left in April.  I’m actually feeling great that it’s only $11.  We just hosted a big Easter Brunch for 14 adults that took up about 1/3 of the month’s budget (including 2 floral bouquets).  But I still thought I’d challenge myself to eat what we’ve got on hand.

I made this Manicotti Italian Casserole for the first time a few weeks ago and froze half of it.  This is definitely a recipe I’ll be using again.  I also think the sauce I used (not my usual homemade, but Newman’s Own Sockarooni, a zesty, chunky sauce) really made the dish.  This casserole would be a great dish to make for a big crowd or to have on hand for care meals to pass along to others in need.

Manicotti Italian Casserole

from Allrecipes.com


  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 (8 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
  • 2 (32 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese
  • thinly sliced pepperoni
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Pour in rigatoni, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set pasta aside.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef and italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove beef and sausage to a baking dish. Stir mushrooms, spaghetti sauce, and cooked pasta into the baking dish. Sprinkle cheese and pepperoni over the top.  Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Do you stick to a monthly budget?  How often do you sit down and review your spending throughout the month?

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