Meal prepping is awesome – you can save so much time, not to mention money, by planning and prepping your meals in advance. This meal prep pasta bake is easy to make and can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days, or frozen to use at a later time.
It makes a great mid-week family meal – serve as it is, or with some garlic bread or salad (or both!) I love knowing that after a long work day, dinner only needs to be popped in the oven – and that is why I just love meal prepping!
Meal Prep Pasta Bake
This pasta bake fulfils both those needs!
As a family we have pasta once or twice a week, and so when I meal prep for the week ahead (on a Sunday afternoon) I will cook a big batch of sauce that can then be used across several dishes – such as this meal prep pasta bake, lasagne, spag bol. Add some chilli powder to turn it into chilli con carne – to serve with rice or over jacket potatoes. Top it with potatoes and make a kind of Italian cottage pie.
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If have lots of time, I will cook a sauce from scratch – but if I’m in a hurry I will use a jar of our favourite sauce. There is no shame in that game! I also like to sneak in some veggies – fresh if I can, but a bag of frozen mix veg will do the same job.
If I am meal prepping a lasagne I will save some of the white sauce (bechamel) to use as a topping in this bake. But if not, I either leave it out, or use a jarred white sauce instead. That said, I make a lower fat version of bechamel using cottage cheese and eggs – read how to make that on my Make Ahead Lasagne Recipe.
For us, meal prepping and the types of meals we make are about saving money on our groceries, and saving time spent in the kitchen each evening.
I cook up some pasta – whatever we happen to have. For this pasta bake I used fusilli (spiral shaped pasta), but penne or shells would work just as well. I have even been known to mix the last remnants of a mix of pastas before!
The cooked pasta gets mixed with the sauce and spread out in an oven proof dish. It is then topped with some white sauce (but as I said above, if I don’t have it made, then it can easily be left out) and grated cheese.
I then cover with foil or plastic wrap and place in the fridge until time to cook. This lasts up to four days in the fridge – do check the use-by date on your meat (if using) as a guide. You can also freeze this pasta bake to cook at another time. You can cook it from frozen, or allow to thaw in the fridge.
When it comes to meal prepping you need to have your sensible head on as you are cooking and storing food in advance.
- Check use-by dates
- Keep food in airtight containers where possible – it prolongs the life of the food – especially cut vegetables, salad, and fruit
- Hot food is safe to put in the fridge – but if you prefer to cool it down first, do not leave food out for more than an hour
- When reheating food, either in the microwave, stove top, or oven, ensure that food is thawed (if previously frozen) and piping hot throughout
- If in doubt – throw it out! I’m not one to encourage food waste, but if something smells or looks a bit suspect to you, don’t risk food poisoning – throw it in the trash.
- olive oil
- 250g beef mince
- 250g mixed vegetables, finely chopped. e.g., bell peppers, onions, sweetcorn, aubergine, courgettes, mushrooms. You can use fresh or frozen
- large jar of bolognese sauce (or cook your own, but this is easy meal prep remember!)
- mixed dried herbs (optional)
- chopped garlic (optional)
- 500g fusilli pasta (dried weight)
- small jar of bechamel sauce (optional)
- 150g Cheddar, grated
- Heat a little olive oil in a pan and brown off the mince for about 5 minutes.
- Add your choice of vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes till softened.
- Pour in the bolognese sauce - you can add extra herbs or garlic if you like - depends on the sauce doesn't it?!
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes (or according to the package instructions).
- Drain the pasta, add it to the pan of meat sauce, and stir to combine.
- Transfer the pasta and sauce to an ovenproof dish and even out.
- Spread the bechamel sauce over the pasta, then top with grated cheese.
- See notes for cooking and serving instructions
If you don't like putting hot food in the fridge, allow to cool for about an hour (but no more than two hours).
This dish can be frozen too - cool in the fridge first then transfer to the freezer. You can cook it from frozen, or defrost in the fridge.
To cook from chilled - 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 30-40 minutes or until piping hot throughout.
To cook from frozen - 190C/375F/Gas 5, cover with foil and cook for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes to brown if required. Ensure food is piping hot throughout.
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