Baked Ziti {Freezer Meal}

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So I recently joined a freezer meal group in my neighborhood- once a month we will be getting together and each person prepares 5 meals of the same freezer meal. We then swap meals, sending each lady home with 5 different meals, ready to eat in a matter of minutes! Brilliant!

So here is my recipe for this month:

Baked Ziti
Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta (or really any kind of pasta would work- I actually used Penne pasta)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (season with pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and minced garlic)
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (I added a zucchini to my sauce just for more veggies!)
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 7-8 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray 2 8x8 inch pans with non-stick cooking spray. Layer as follows in each pan: 1/4 of the ziti, 1/4 of the sauce, 4 slices of Provolone cheese, 1/2 of sour cream,  1/4 of ziti, 1/4 mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake covered for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

 

You can eat one for dinner now and freeze the other for dinner another day!
To freeze this meal: Follow the instructions above, except for the last step of cooking it. Cover the assembled ziti with foil and stick in the freezer (I usually use 2-3 layers of foil just to keep out the freezer burn). It will last in the freezer for about 30 days. When you are ready to eat it, remove from the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw 24 hours in advance. By allowing it to thaw in the fridge, you can cook it at the regular time and temperature (350 degrees for about 30 minutes). If you do not thaw it in advance, it will take much longer to cook. If you cook it completely frozen, it will take anywhere from 90 minutes - 2 hours to cook all the way through.
These fill the 8x8" pans to the top, so I cooked mine on a large cookie sheet just in case they bubbled over (which they did!).
This was definitely a keeper . . . my whole family devoured it (even the kids!)!!
**If you are preparing this for a large group, you can use a DEEP 9x13" pan, but be aware that it will fill it all the way to the top!
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  1. Jamie says:

    Looks so yummy I can’t wait to get mine and try it. I hope my freezer recipes can stand up to yours becuase you are AWESOME. I’m pretty sure I want to be you when I grow up!

  2. I LOVE the idea of a freezer meal club! SO brilliant. This looks tasty! I make some yummy stuffed shells (http://makemyselfathome.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/cheesy-beefy-stuffed-shells/) that I freeze half of, but often they wind up tasting metallic with the tomato sauce reacting with the foil pan. I just made them again & decided to see if I could remedy the problem by lining the foil pan with parchment paper… We’ll see if it works! Have you had that problem with this meal?

    • Camille says:

      I usually only bake one and then freeze the other. Then when we want it for dinner, I thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours and then bake it at the regular time and temperature. :) You could cook it first and then just reheat it . . . both ways totally work. The only bad thing about cooking, freezing, and reheating is that the pasta sometimes goes mushy. Good luck!

    • Camille says:

      I usually only bake one and then freeze the other. Then when we want it for dinner, I thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours and then bake it at the regular time and temperature. :) You could cook it first and then just reheat it . . . both ways totally work. The only bad thing about cooking, freezing, and reheating is that the pasta sometimes goes mushy. Good luck!

    • Camille says:

      I usually only bake one and then freeze the other. Then when we want it for dinner, I thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours and then bake it at the regular time and temperature. :) You could cook it first and then just reheat it . . . both ways totally work. The only bad thing about cooking, freezing, and reheating is that the pasta sometimes goes mushy. Good luck!

  3. I made this tonight and it was VERY good!! I didn’t have provolone cheese so I substituted it with 1 package (4 cups) of mozzarella cheese. Delicious! My husband went back for not only seconds but thirds as well (which is surprising because he is very conscious of his weight right now). Great recipe and will recommend it to my friends.

  4. I made this tonight and it was VERY good!! I didn’t have provolone cheese so I substituted it with 1 package (4 cups) of mozzarella cheese. Delicious! My husband went back for not only seconds but thirds as well (which is surprising because he is very conscious of his weight right now). Great recipe and will recommend it to my friends.

  5. Eric says:

    To prevent pasta from getting mushy after freezing you should undercook it by a couple of minutes (because when cooked pasta thaws in the fridge it absorbs more water).

  6. I’m an almost 65 year old woman without children.. and have a little dog.. I have decided to try this new thing.. Freezer Cooking.. and I have already made 2 items from my list.. I actually love it so far.

    I just need to get more recipes. And I want some that are healthy.. I am having a really fun time doing this. And have enough bags to last me…. for almost 19 days.. Now that is going to make my pocketbook fatter.. Since I’m on a very limited budget.

  7. schmitzg says:

    Hello! Love your ideas. How long do you let the casserole cool before putting it into the freezer? I am not going to bake it first as I dislike mushy pasta. So, basically the pasta and beef would be the only hot items. Thanks in advance. Have you found the casseroles freeze well in foil pans or do you wrap them in other freezer paper/large freezer baggies, etc. prior to freezing?

    • Camille says:

      I let mine cool for about an hour before placing it in the freezer and I think that it was cooled down enough by that time. I hope that helps! Also, I like to use a foil pan to freeze it in because it makes it easy to just throw it straight in the oven. I make sure to double or triple wrap it in foil before throwing it in the freezer and then I remove all the foil except for one layer before baking.

  8. Lori Austin says:

    I have made freezer meals for years. I would really love to have a freezer meal group to swap with. I’m now looking into making some of the crockpot freezer meals – you know fresh made but all the prep is already done.

  9. Leslie Seror says:

    I made this tonight and it was great! I used whole wheat penne and ground turkey. I also left out the sour cream. My picky 16 month old gobbled it up and had seconds :) Thanks for another great meal. I’m a big fan.

  10. Kelsey says:

    Made this and it is SOOO good! My husband and I kept saying it was the best baked pasta we’ve ever had. I used Ragu Garden Combination sauce. YUM!

  11. Kristen says:

    Let’s say I only wanted to make half of this recipe to eat on the spot. Would I just cut each of the ingredients in half, or should I make it as the ingredients are listed here? I can’t tell if those are for one dish of pasta or two.

    • Cyd says:

      This makes enough for 2 pans that are 8 x 8, or a 9 x 13 filled to the top. You could cut the recipe in half for one 8 x 8 pan. Hope this helps.

  12. Kelly says:

    In the oven now. MMMMM, smells amazing, can’t wait. The pictures just look so delicious. And the recipe is easy to follow for a amateur cook like myself. Thanks!!

  13. Carolyn says:

    Made this and it was amazing. I mixed the pasta and sauce together instead of following the directions as stated. Didn’t freeze this, but made it one night after work and then had my husband bake it the following day. The house smelled wonderful! Even brought some to work for my coworkers to try and they thought it was GREAT! Super easy and quick!

  14. Kristen says:

    Just made this for a friend whom has a broken arm from a terrible car accident. This made so much there was even enough to make for my family twice! I’m glad I found your frozen dinner posts, so helpful, and tasty!

  15. Kathleen W. says:

    Made this for dinner tonight (and froze the other half for later). How long does this (or any freezer meal) stay good in the freezer? I would hate to do all this work and then have it go to waste! Thanks!! Love your recipes!

  16. Jenny says:

    I made this tonight and it was a definite success! I baked one and froze one as you suggested. I omitted the sour cream and used bowties (because that’s what I had in the house already) and it came out great.

  17. Tonya says:

    We absolutely love this dish. It’s easy and delicious! The creaminess is the key. I can’t seem to get mine heated through in less than an hour though on the fresh batch. If I freeze one, then thaw in the fridge for 24 hours, it takes almost an hour and a half in the oven. Could I be doing something wrong?

  18. Logan says:

    Looks yummy and I’m making this now for my family. This post calls for 2 26 jars of spaghetti sauce but the Recipe Magic page only lists 1. Which is correct? Thanks

    • Cyd says:

      You bake the fresh one covered. The frozen one needs to be thawed and then bake it covered also. More details are in the directions on the post.

      • Misty Hylkema says:

        The WHOLE recipe feeds 12 people? Or each 8×8 pan feeds 12? I’m guessing the whole recipe…? I am doing my first freezer swap soon and we’ve agreed to each make 5 meals that serve 4-6 people each. So wouldn’t you say I would *for the most part* make this recipe three times? I could make six 8×8 pans…leaving one at home and five to swap…?? Thanks for sharing this recipe…sounds sooo good!

        • Cyd says:

          Each 8 x 8 pan feeds about 6 to 8 people. You could make it 3 times and leave one pan home for your family!!

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