Staying on Budget

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Four Cheese Small Shells

Four Cheese Small Shells is a complete meal in one bowl full of vegetables, cheese and sauce. The mushrooms add a meaty texture to the sauce.

Five Cheese Small Shells is great if I am cooking for a crowd with children. I like taking different vegetables and mixing them into the layered pasta dish.  

Cost Per Serving $2.78 as of April 2022

If you have zero ingredients then this recipe will cost about $22.23.

If you have a fully stocked pantry this recipe will cost about $17.50.

  • Cost per serving reduces to $2.19.

I am assuming you have salt and pepper and do not add it into the recipe total cost.

Stove Top & Oven

Recipe serves: 8

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup

Equipment needed: 1 pot for pasta, 1 sauté pan and 1 baking dish 13×9 inch.

Total time: 90 minutes


Let's grocery shop!

I am assuming you have salt and pepper. It is not included in pantry and spices. If you have a fully stocked pantry there will be a savings of about $4.73.

Pantry & Spices

Total: $4.73 as of April 2022

  • olive oil $2.77
  • italian seasoning $0.98
  • red pepper flakes $0.98


Total: $17.50 as of April 2022

  • 1 zucchini $0.81
  • 1 portobello mushrooms 8 oz $3.29
  • 1 onion $0.62
  • 1 bulb garlic $0.48
  • 1 box small pasta shells 16 oz $0.92
  • 1 tub ricotta cheese 15 oz $2.12
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese $1.98
  • 1 jar marinara sauce 24 oz $1.88
  • 1 bag sliced provolone $1.84
  • 1 tub grated parmesan romano cheese $1.98
  • 1 container of eggs 1/2 dozen $1.58

Let's prep!

Let's cook!

  1. Complete prep from prep step above.
  2. Start a large pot of water and cook 1 pound small pasta shells to al dente.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°
  4. Heat a sauté pan then add:
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • shredded zucchini
    • onion
    • mushrooms
  5. Cook until onions are soft about 4 – 5 minutes
  6. Add garlic for 1 minute
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Drain the pasta
  9. Add 1.5 cups of pasta sauce to the bottom of the pan then:
    • add ½ the noodles
    • top the noodles with sautéed vegetables spreading evenly
    • top the vegetables with the cheese mixture spreading evenly
    • top the cheese mixture with torn slices of provolone cheese
    • add the rest of the noodles over the cheese
    • add the remainder of the sauce to the top spreading evenly
    • sprinkle ¼ cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano over the sauce.
  10. Bake covered for 40 minutes then uncovered for 10 minutes longer. Rest for 15 minutes.

This recipe can also be found in Weekly Dinners for 4 under $100 – Menu 7

Let's cook!

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Christin Lee


It is fun to think that there might be a short cut but the reality is planning plus diligence equals financial freedom.

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