Build Your Own Casserole

Do you come home feeling too tired and busy to cook a fancy meal? Casseroles are a simple way to create a last minute meal with foods you have on hand. You only need 5 – 6 ingredients, 10 minutes of prep time, and dinner is ready before the kids are done with their homework!

The build your own mix and match method for cooking is a great way to “mix” up your dinner while using items that are found in your #BetterPantry to “match” your family’s taste buds. The main idea is to include as many MyPlate food groups as possible to make a dish that has everyone coming back for seconds.

Casseroles are a perfect dish to build your own meal! Below is a step-by-step guide to creating a casserole that your family will love.

steps to build your own casseroleStep 1: Choose a Whole Grains Base

Any form of whole grains will work, like brown rice, quinoa and any other type of whole wheat pasta.

Step 2: Pick a Lean protein

When at the store look on the package for «90% lean” or “extra lean” meat. Feel free to “mix” it up with other lean proteins such as chicken, ground beef, or turkey. Plant-based proteins like beans and tofu are great options that are low in fat.

Step 3: Add Vegetables

Now it’s time to add veggies! Casseroles are a good way to try new veggies along with your family’s favorites. Choose at least two vegetables to add to your casserole. When shopping, check out the freezer aisles for frozen mixed veggies to get a great mix for a low price! Add in a ½ cup of veggies per person.

Step 4: Choose Sauces and Seasonings

Casseroles need a sauce or binder to hold it all together. Low sodium broth, low-fat sour cream, and even eggs can add that extra flavor and make the texture of the dish better. You can also spice up your casserole with herbs and spices for flavor without adding any salt. Add in about 1 cup of your favorite sauces and a dash of each spice.

Step 5: Toppings

Once everything has been added to the dish you can choose fun toppings. Sprinkle nuts, bread crumbs, or your favorite shredded cheese on top. Now it’s ready to bake.

Try this combination of ingredients or use the steps to build your own!

Ham and Noodle Casserole (4 servings) ham and noodle casserole with green beans and mushrooms

4 cups whole wheat egg noodles, cooked

2 cups diced ham

1 cup mushrooms, diced

1 cup green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

⅓ cup light sour cream

⅓ cup low-sodium broth

⅓ cup low-fat evaporated milk

4 ounces cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  3. Add ham, mushrooms, green beans, sour cream, broth, and evaporated milk into a large bowl and mix together.
  4. Add noodles and all other ingredients into a casserole dish and mix to combine.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top and cover with tin foil.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°F
  7. Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden-brown.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

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