Here in New England, there is but one choice for the frugal grocery shopper: Market Basket. Their products are consistently less expensive than those of other area supermarkets. This enables me to justify the 25-minute drive to the closest one a couple of towns away and not to shop at the Stop and Shop just five minutes from my house.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I bought a store-brand frozen Shepherd's Pie from Market Basket. It was kind of pricey--$7.00--which I didn't notice until I was at the checkout line. But my fears of having overpaid for a frozen dinner were banished last Friday as I basked in the glory of another home-run meal for the kiddos.
At first Jack didn't like it, since "Shepherd's Pie" doesn't exactly resonate with a three-year-old, but after Mike christened it "Potato Pie" Jack couldn't eat it fast enough. Plus, Henry's friend Justin was over and he loved it, too!
So for a measly $7.00 (everything's relative), not only did I serve a popular, mildly nutritious meal, but I realized how easy it would be to make a bunch up on my own, freeze them, then reheat them for a quick weeknight meal.
Of course, the Market Basket Shepherd's Pie was kind of bland so that it would have broader appeal. But it wouldn't be difficult to tailor the recipe for any family's tastes, for example by:
- Using a vegetable mixture instead of corn
- Making it "Mexican Pie" by using chili or Miracle Mexican Filling for the meat layer
- Adding a can of condensed tomato soup to the meat mixture
- Covering the top with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cheese Mashed Potatoes, etc.
1 lb ground meat (beef, pork, chicken)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can yellow corn, drained
2 c. mashed potatoes
Sauté the meat, onion, and garlic in a skillet until the meat is cooked through and the onions are soft. Drain off any fat, then put this mixture into an aluminum pie pan. Pour the corn over the meat mixture and smooth it out. Finally, cover the pie with a layer of mashed potatoes, flattening it out across the top of the pan.
At this point you can either bake it at 400° until the potatoes are browned and serve it today, OR you can cover it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze the pie for later. To heat, bake it at 400° for 45-55 minutes until heated through.