Individual Make Ahead Lasagna to Freeze (or Refrigerate) & Bake Later!
The tried-and-true make ahead lasagna freezer meal isn’t just for family meal prep anymore… Now, you can prep a personal MINI loaf pan lasagna for one (or two) instead!
Not only is this mini lasagna just plain adorable, but it also makes the convenience of freezer meal prep lasagna accessible to anyone. Maybe you don’t have an entire household to feed, or maybe you only meal prep for one or two people. Or, maybe you just don’t want to deal with freezing, thawing, and cooking a full-size lasagna freezer meal in a GIANT dish.
Personally, I wanted to try mini loaf pan lasagna because it’s such a pain trying to fit that standard dish in my freezer or fridge! These mini casseroles make things SO much easier, and I can stack them on top of one another if needed.
And, prepping individual freezer lasagna dishes allows you to thaw & cook just as many (or few) servings as needed each day. Of course, you can still prep as many mini dishes of lasagna for one as you need—whether it’s just a few for the week, or a larger batch for busy months ahead. The beauty of easy freezer meals is you can store them for several months!
Most importantly, it’s just as easy to prep these mini make ahead lasagna to freeze and cook later—you’re just doing it in multiple smaller dishes. All of the convenience of freezer meal prep lasagna, but none of the hassling with a giant baking dish!
Customizing this Mini Loaf
Pan Lasagna Recipe
To make this mini lasagna recipe, I’ve really just adapted a classic, full-size lasagna freezer meal and scaled it down to fit in multiple smaller dishes. So, with that in mind, don’t worry too much about the exact ingredient amounts, or using dishes the exact same size as mine. This recipe is flexible!
To give you a starting point, I’ll explain my process, and the pans I used, etc. And, I’ll walk you through how you can customize this mini loaf pan lasagna recipe as needed.
Your preparation may vary a bit, but (more than likely) your little lasagnas will turn out just fine!
Both ceramic and metal loaf
pans will work fine—the better option is just whatever you already have, or
whatever you’d like to buy and keep!
The one thing to consider with freezer meal prep lasagna is which of your pans are you willing to store in the freezer? Because, once they’re prepped, you won’t get those pans back until they’re cooked and eaten!
Mini Loaf Pan Lasagna for One -OR- Regular Loaf Pan Lasagna for Two (or Three)
Again, I built this individual
freezer lasagna recipe around the mini ceramic loaf pans that I already had at
home, each of which measures 6 x 3½ x 2¼-inches. They’re fairly small, which is why I call this a mini
lasagna for one OR two, depending on your desired serving size.
But, don’t worry about the specific measurements being exactly the same on your pans. If you already have some mini loaf pans but they’re a bit different in size than mine, that’s totally fine! Seriously, use whichever pans you have—you’re ultimately going to cut the noodles to fit the size of your pan anyway.
Another thing to keep in mind: you don’t have to make lasagna for one like I did. If you have regular-sized loaf pans but not mini, go ahead and make a regular loaf pan lasagna for two or three or four people! The total number of servings yielded will depend on the size of your pans, and the type of serving size that you like to eat.
But, my point is, you don’t necessarily have to buy new pans for this recipe. Whether it’s a mini or regular loaf pan lasagna, you still get to avoid dealing with stuffing a giant baking dish into your freezer or fridge!
As Many Mini Lasagna as Your Heart Desires!
Remember, serving size will
vary from person to person, so think about the ideal serving size for you and
the people in your household. How much does each person like to eat?
If you typically meal prep
for one (just yourself), just prep as many servings of mini loaf pan lasagna as
you’d like. Or, if you meal prep for yourself and another person, how much will
the two of you eat for dinner? You could each have your own individual freezer
lasagna, or a regular loaf pan lasagna for two could be perfect to share.
Even if you meal prep for a family or have a full household to feed, mini lasagna can still be a convenient option to optimize your freezer/fridge space! Rather than one GIANT dish, you’ll have multiple smaller, stackable dishes. And, pre-portioned individual dishes make it so much easier to cook just what you need.
Once you’ve figured out the size of your pans and about how many servings they’ll yield, simply prep as many mini lasagnas as the number of servings you need. (Or as many as your freezer/fridge can hold!)
How to Prepare Make Ahead Lasagna to Freeze and Cook Later
With your pans of choice and ingredients at the ready, you can prep your mini healthy lasagna casseroles in just about 30 minutes!
If you’ve ever made a full-sized lasagna freezer meal or just regular ol’ lasagna, the process is pretty much the same. Prep your meat sauce, prep your ricotta mixture, and, layer all of that goodness into your dishes!
Now, if you want to prep make ahead lasagna to freeze (or refrigerate) and cook later, the type of noodles you use matters. Since I want to cook my mini frozen lasagna in the oven after it’s thawed, I’m using oven ready lasagna noodles!
Oven ready noodles are
exactly what they sound like—they’re ready to go into the oven, no cooking or
boiling required beforehand. They’re the best option for this lasagna freezer
meal recipe, but you can use regular OR gluten free oven ready noodles. (If you’re able to find them!)
But, whether you’re making a mini loaf pan lasagna for one or a regular loaf pan lasagna for two, there’s a crucial first step: getting those big noodles to fit into your small pans…
#1 Soak Noodles in Warm Water to Soften
Of course, you can try cutting
your noodles in their raw, dry form, but they’re pretty fragile and usually
shatter! (I tried it a few times…) Luckily, the solution is simple.
Either before or during
your mini lasagna prep, fill a flat dish with warm water and soak your oven
ready noodles. After about 10-15 minutes,
they’ll be softened up and easy to cut! Just make sure that you’ve got enough warm water in your dish to cover the noodles entirely as they soak.
When I made these, each
individual freezer lasagna ended up having 2 noodle layers total. So, to make 4
mini loaf pan lasagna dishes, I ended up using about 8 oven ready noodles—which
was about half of my 12 oz package. Soak as many noodles as you think you’ll
#2 Cook Meat Sauce for Lasagna Filling
Next, while your noodles soak, you can cook up the meat sauce for your homemade lasagna filling! Saute chopped onion in a bit of oil, then add ground meat and cook through. Be sure to break up the meat with a spoon so there aren’t any big chunks in your meat sauce!
I used ground beef for this
mini loaf pan lasagna recipe, but you can use ground turkey or really any
ground meat that you like. (Or even crumbled tofu!)
Once your meat is cooked,
add marinara sauce, season to taste with salt, and stir to coat. You can totally whip up a homemade marinara sauce if
preferred, but I just used a store-bought marinara sauce to keep the prep work
easier. Look for a low/no sugar variety for the healthiest option!
#3 Prepare Ricotta Mixture
Set your meat sauce aside
for now, and grab a separate bowl to prepare your ricotta mixture. Mix
together ricotta cheese, an egg, some cooked cauliflower rice for a sneaky
veggie boost, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper.
No, cauliflower rice is definitely not a standard addition for a lasagna filling… But YES, I am totally taking advantage of the chance to sneak some veggies into this healthy lasagna dinner! And, I kept things extra simple by buying frozen cauliflower rice that I cooked in the microwave.
Trust me, between the creamy ricotta and tasty Parmesan cheese, you won’t even taste the cauliflower! It’s a great way to pack in more nutrition, and to help kids and picky eaters fit more veggies in their day. (Without even knowing it!)
#4 Cut Noodles to Fit Mini Loaf Pan Lasagna Dishes
Finally, before assembling your healthy lasagna, you’ll need to cut your soaked & softened noodles so they’re the right size.
After soaking for 10-15
minutes, those noodles should be soft and flexible. To make cutting easier
& more precise, I just grabbed some kitchen shears and cut each noodle to
fit the size of my loaf pan lasagna dishes.
And, I recommend keeping the scraps/smaller noodle pieces as you go! You can puzzle them together to fill any gaps as you assemble your layers. After assembly, you won’t even see those scrap noodle pieces, but more noodle goodness when you bite into your homemade lasagna is never a bad thing.
#5 How to Layer Lasagna in Loaf Pans
With your meat sauce
cooked, ricotta mixture ready, and noodles cut to size, you’re ready to
assemble your layers!
Just grab some fresh
spinach and your mini loaf pan lasagna dishes, arranging them together on your
work surface. I think it’s easiest to arrange them in a row and add my layers
For the bottom layer, start with your meat sauce—just enough to cover the bottom of each dish. Next, top with one of your cut-to-size noodles, spread on some of the ricotta mixture, followed by a layer of fresh spinach leaves.
Then, since my mini loaf pans are pretty dang mini, I was able to get through just one more round of layers: meat sauce, noodles, & ricotta. Once I was at the top, I finished each with a thin layer of meat sauce, and then a generous helping of shredded mozzarella!
Ultimately, the exact order of the layering isn’t super important. Go in whatever order you like, and add as many layers as needed to fit your mini lasagna dishes. But, no matter what, it is super important that you finish it off with plenty of cheese on top!
How to Package & Store Freezer Meal Prep Lasagna
Of course, you can always pop your loaf pan lasagna straight into the oven immediately after prepping. (Cooking instructions provided in the next section.)
But, to package and store for FREEZER meal prep lasagna purposes, here’s what you do:
Cover each dish with a tight-fitting lid or food wrap of choice.
If your mini loaf pans (like mine) don’t have lids, use whichever type of wrapping suits you: plastic wrap, foil, reusable beeswax wraps (shown below), etc.
Before wrapping, also consider where you’ll be storing them (i.e. fridge or freezer), and for how long.
Fridge storage is simplest—just about any food wrap will work fine, and they’ll last stored for up to 3-4 days.
And, if storing in the fridge to cook later in the week, why not prep some veggies as well? Store them alongside your mini lasagna and you can toss them on a pan to roast in the oven at the same time. That way, you’ve got an entire, balanced meal ready to cook and enjoy fresh whenever you want it during the week!
When packaging to freeze, be sure to choose a freezer-safe food wrap material. Plastic wrap will work for freezer meal prep, or you can store each covered dish in a freezer-safe bag. You can also use foil, but it will help to cover the foil with an outer wrapping of plastic wrap! For a plastic alternative, I opted for beeswax wraps.
These mini lasagna freezer meals will last 1-2 months stored in the freezer!
You also want the food wrap material to be durable enough to hold up for as long as you plan to keep your mini loaf pan lasagna stored in the freezer—whether it’s days, weeks, or months.
About 24 hours before you plan to eat, transfer your freezer meal prep lasagna to the fridge and allow to thaw. Rather than cooking straight from frozen, allowing your lasagna freezer meal to thaw will make it easier and faster to cook—and tastier to eat!
How Long to Cook Mini Loaf Pan Lasagna
Finally—whether you want to cook your loaf pan lasagna immediately after prepping, or if you’ve got an individual freezer lasagna that’s thawed overnight in your fridge—the cooking process is the same:
Preheat the oven to 400°F
(200°C). I recommend adding your mini loaf pan lasagna dishes onto a baking
sheet so it’s easier to take them in and out of the oven! Or, this may not
be necessary if making a regular-sized loaf pan lasagna instead.
But, no matter what size lasagna you ultimately prepare, I do recommend covering each dish with foil before they go into the oven. Leave the foil on for about 20 minutes, then remove it for the last 10 minutes. This will help it to cook through and get the cheese nice and melty!
And, since your mini
lasagna won’t take up too much space, you’ve got room to toss some veggies in
to roast at the same time! I tossed some Brussels sprouts with just a bit of
oil, salt, and pepper, but you can use any veggies and seasonings you like.
Then, you can pop BOTH your covered mini loaf pan lasagna dishes AND your tray of veggies into the oven for about 30 minutes total. After the first 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue to cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Feel free to broil at the end for some added browning and blistering on the mozzarella cheese topping!
Target Meal Prep for the Week! Easy Meal Prep Freezer Meals!
Make Ahead Lasagna to Freeze (or Refrigerate) and Cook Later!
Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes
Total Time:1 hour
Yield:4 servings 1x
4 mini loaf pans or casserole dishes (I used 6 x 3½ x 2¼-inch pans) ½ cup chopped onion 1 lb ground beef 1½ cups marinara sauce 10 oz ricotta (~1¼ cups) ½ cup frozen & thawed cauliflower rice 1 egg ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese 3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or dried parsley) salt, to taste pepper, to taste 8–12 (~6 oz) oven-ready/no-cook lasagna noodles (soaked in warm water to soften) ¼ – ⅓ cup spinach leaves 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In a pan over medium-high heat, saute onion in oil. Once translucent, add beef and cook through, breaking up meat with a spoon. Stir marinara sauce into cooked meat, season with salt to taste, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, cauliflower rice, parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well to integrate and set aside.
Before or during lasagna prep, fill a dish with warm water and soak oven-ready lasagna noodles for 10-15 minutes.
Once softened, use kitchen shears to cut noodles to fit the size of your mini loaf pans or mini casserole dishes. (Save smaller noodle pieces and scraps to puzzle together as you assemble!)
To assemble each mini loaf pan lasagna for one: Add enough meat sauce to cover bottom of each dish. Top with a sheet of lasagna noodle, cut to size. Add ricotta mixture and spread evenly, followed by mozzarella cheese and a layer of spinach leaves.
Continue with another layer of meat sauce, a sheet of lasagna noodle, and ricotta mixture, spread evenly. (Repeat additional layers as needed/desired to fill your dish!)
Finish each mini loaf pan lasagna with a thin layer of meat sauce and more shredded mozzarella on top.
Wrap or cover prepared mini lasagnas and store in the fridge for up to 3 days, until ready to cook. Or, freeze for up to 1-2 months! Transfer frozen mini lasagnas to the fridge to thaw about 24 hours before you plan to cook.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Add mini lasagna dishes to a baking sheet, cover each dish with a small foil tent, and bake for ~20 minutes covered. Remove foil tent and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes uncovered, until browned on top as desired.