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Ready or Not #49: Shepherd’s Pie

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

When I was young, I honestly don’t ever remember eating a casserole, or they also might be known as “one-dish meals.” My dad didn’t like them and so my mother never made them. As a matter of fact, I had never even made a casserole until after I got married. My first casserole was a disaster! My husband ate it because he is a nice guy, but he did tell me that if I am going to make a tuna casserole that people will usually expect to have the tuna added. Okay, after you have stopped laughing and have wiped your eyes so that you can read again – I will go on. Also, I had decorated the top of the casserole with a leftover hot dog thinking that it would be nice. A hot dog? No tuna? What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn’t.

The thing that I like about casseroles is that they are so food storage friendly and easy. You can use any kind of noodle or pasta in place of the noodle or pasta that you might be out of. You can also substitute soups in a pinch. I know this because I have done it myself. If I am out of Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Celery works just fine. You might have to use a few different herbs or change a few different spices, but you can adapt the casserole to just about anything that you have in your cupboard. You can use potatoes in almost any form: mashed, shredded, diced, cut up, or with tater tots (I love funeral potatoes – and talk about adapting a recipe!) I have learned how to make casseroles that are completely acceptable and that my family actually looks forward to eating – I’ve come a long way.

Now let’s talk about Shepherd’s pie. I got this recipe from two guys when I was working at an auto supply shop when I was still single. I can’t remember how the two guys who came in to buy a battery got talking about food, but when they found out that I had never heard of Shepherd’s Pie, they looked at me like I was an alien. I mean, after all, who hasn’t eaten or doesn’t know how to make Shepherd’s Pie. They then proceeded to share with me their favorite version, of which I have since found out that there are hundreds of different recipes with the same name. After I got married and after my tuna casserole fiasco, I thought that I would try the Shepherd’s Pie recipe. It was a hit – and I didn’t forget a thing (you really can’t forget anything because you just add what you want.) The recipe that the two guys gave me was very simple: brown one pound of hamburger and add all of your leftover vegetables for the week. Add a can of tomato soup straight from the can and mix with the meat and the vegetables in a deep casserole dish. Salt and pepper to taste. On top of that mixture add a two-inch layer of mashed potatoes and cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Put in the oven, covered, at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted on top.

This is my son’s favorite version of the Shepherd’s pie recipe.

Our Favorite Shepherd’s Pie

Brown one pound of hamburger. In a deep casserole dish, mix together the hamburger, a can of drained green beans, and a can of tomato soup (straight from the can). Add salt, pepper, garlic, and rubbed sage to taste.

Cover mixture with layer of cheddar cheese. Add a layer of mashed potatoes, my son says the more the better, and then cover with another layer of cheese on top.

Put in a hot oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. We like the cheese to be a little crispy on top.

So easy, so quick, so inexpensive, and so “I don’t have to go to the store shopping because I have everything I need in my food storage” kind of recipe. Remember, with casseroles there are no hard and fast rules, and like the young men who shared their recipe, it is a way to use up the leftovers in your refrigerator in a tasty and most acceptable way. After you have gone leftover hunting you can then sit back feeling smart and frugal while enjoying a tasty meal.


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