How much does a lazy lasagne cost to make at home?
It's Garfield's favourite meal, but as supermarket prices escalate, how much will the ingredients for a homemade lasagne set you back?
Everyone knows cheese prices have gone through the roof. If that's one of the key ingredients in a meal, you're already looking at an expensive dinner to make at home from scratch.
But lasagne, a popular staple on New Zealand dinner tables, is a meal made of many things. Cheese is just one of the ingredients needed to put together a feed big enough to satisfy four people. If you're making your lasagne with meat, it will set you back even more than a vegetarian version.
As supermarket prices keep going up, Consumer NZ wanted to find a way to chart just how much things cost. So, for six weeks, we're picking popular meals and going shopping at the four major supermarkets to buy the key ingredients. We want to find out which is cheapest, and which is the most expensive.
In last week's burger test, New World was the most expensive, charging $63 for the ingredients for a homemade Friday night feed of Kiwiburgers and fries for four. Pak’nSave was the cheapest, costing $53 – a saving of $10 for one meal just by shopping around.
Lets see if that trend continues: we're cooking lasagne.
Making lasagne to feed four
Lasagne has multiple parts. First, you'll need to simmer a ragu of onions, garlic, carrots, celery, capsicum, tinned tomatoes and mince – we've chosen to use beef and pork.
Next, you'll have to whip up a cheese sauce, and par boil the lasagne sheets.
Finally, you'll need to get your Jamie Oliver on and combine the lot in the deepest pan you have, layering ragu, pasta and cheese sauce, along with baby spinach and lentils for added texture.
Sprinkle over a mountain of mozzarella, bake it at a high temperature, then serve with salad and garlic bread to mop up the sauce and you've got a meal Garfield would be proud of.
But how much will it all cost you?
How we tested supermarket prices
We set up online shopping baskets for the four nearest supermarkets: Countdown, New World, Pak’nSave and Supie (the online-only grocer available in select locations).
Next, we loaded our baskets with the ingredients needed to make the cheesy carb-fest, including celery, onions, garlic, carrots, capsicum, tomatoes, and pork and beef mince for the ragu; milk and mozzarella for the cheese sauce; and tinned lentils, spinach, garlic bread, salad mix and a telegraph cucumber.
The good news is that every supermarket has the ingredients needed to make a decent lasagne. All the items you'll need are stocked in all supermarkets, so you can do your shopping in one trip.
What our homemade lasagne test discovered
For the cost conscious, it pays to watch where you shop. The cost per item can vary by a dizzying amount. A bag of Mainland grated mozzarella costs $8.50 through Supie, but $10.49 at New World – an extra $2.
While Pak’nSave rated the cheapest for many items, it was the most expensive for premium beef mince, with 500 grams costing $11. At New World, it's $9.49.
If you're not fussy about brands, it can also pay to be flexible. New World stocks a twin pack of Mamma Forellis garlic bread for $7.99. At Supie, a two-pack of Emma-Jane garlic bread costs less than half that, at $3.80.
There's also a big price difference in the cost of celery. Half a bunch at Supie will set you back $2, yet, at Countdown, on the day we shopped, the only celery in stock was a precut bag of sticks costing $5.99 for 300gm. At that price, you'll probably want to skip it.
When tallied up, the most expensive supermarket to buy all the ingredients was Countdown at $78.98. New World was second at $76.36, while Supie came in third at $66.05. The cheapest was Pak’nSave, which would charge you $65.86 for everything needed for a gourmet lasagne.
The bad news? The difference in price for many of those items can vary by up to $4 per item. If you don't shop around, it could cost more than $12 extra to make your lasagne, depending which supermarket you go to.
And that's just one meal for one night of the week.
How does it compare to the pre-made stuff?
Judging by the number of pre-made lasagnes available in supermarkets, letting someone else do the cooking is becoming an increasingly popular option. But how do the numbers stack up?
Pak’nSave sells a Rosa Beef lasagne slab for $6.29 each. You'd need four of those (at $25.16), plus salad and garlic bread. A vegetarian option is available at $4.99 each, or $19.96 for four. The photos for both, however, do not look appetising.
Countdown sells an Australian-made pulled-beef lasagne with a bechamel sauce from Strength Meals Co for $13.50 each. So that’s potentially $54 to feed four, with garlic bread and salad on top of that.
New World stocks an Italian prime-beef pre-made lasagne from Kauri Kitchen costing $23.29. At 1.1kg, it looks like it could easily feed two people, so you'll need two of those ($46.58), plus your salad and garlic bread.
At Supie, you can buy a Fed 1.3kg frozen triple-cheese beef lasagne for $25 each. That's $50 for two, plus salad and garlic bread, but you'll need to factor in defrosting time.
If you make and cook a lasagne yourself, you know exactly what's going into it, and you'll probably have plenty left over for lunch the following day, plus a few extra ingredients for the fridge as well.
Up next: Vegetarian nachos.
(Prices were for the week beginning 28 August 2023.)