23 June 2016

Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals

Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

It's a wonderful feeling having a stash of homemade shepherd's pie freezer meals, and other homemade freezer meals, tucked away for those times when the cook's just not feelin' it! Oh, I do plenty of cooking (or baking) nearly every day, but not necessarily cooking that results in dinner. Know what I mean? 

Is it just me, or are there a lot of you out there who love to cook, just not necessarily every day? Problem is, I don't like going out for dinner every time I don't feel like cooking. And Mr. Delightful doesn't like going out to pick up takeout every time I don't feel like cooking. What does that leave? Commercial frozen food? Now, there's a grisly thought!

So on a day when I am feelin' it, I like to make a huge batch of something that will feed us that evening and a few more. I'm usually cooking dinner for two and so use containers that hold the perfect amount for two. Today I made and froze two dinners for two and one dinner for four because friends who like shepherd's pie are coming in a few days.

Of course, you can make this recipe in just one big 13x9x2-inch baking dish that serves 8 or in two 8x8x2-inch baking dishes that serve 4 each, but I've done the math for you in case you want to use four smaller baking dishes that serve 2 each. Other things I freeze in these meal-for-two dishes are Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and Black Bean Soup. And Spaghetti Sauce. I'll also do this with my Vegetarian Shepherdless Pie.

The freezer is my friend!

Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

Shepherd’s Pie Freezer Meals


(Makes 4 frozen meals for two)

I avoid the whole Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie / Lamb or Beef Controversy by making it with ground turkey. But in my family it's always been Shepherd's Pie, no matter what it's made of. And this is my big-batch version for multiple freezer meals.

The Meat Filling

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen peas

The Mashed Potatoes

3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
8 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 packed cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar

1 Lightly oil or spray with cooking spray 4 3-cup (750 ml) rectangular Pyrex storage/baking dishes with lids

2 Start the filling before the potatoes to allow plenty of time for proper browning. In 12-inch straight-sided skillet (I use the All-Clad 6-Quart Saute Pan), heat oil and cook onion and carrots about 5 minutes or until soft. Add ground turkey and brown well. Proper browning, rather than just "graying," gives the finished dish a richer flavor, making it well worth the extra time it takes. If using very lean ground meat, as I do, there is no need to drain the fat from the pan. A lot of moisture comes out of the turkey and must evaporate before any browning can occur.

Note: This proper browning takes a long time, but it's worth it. Especially if you're making this for someone who thinks he doesn't like ground turkey. By the time I get through with it, people just assume it's ground beef. 

3 When the ground turkey is no longer pink, start the potatoes and let the turkey continue cooking until browned. Peel the potatoes and rinse and quarter them. Put them in a 3-quart saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt and enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer, loosely covered, about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 

4 When potatoes are halfway done, finish the meat filling. Add the Worcestershire sauce toward end of browning. When meat is browned (which can take a long time, at least 20 minutes, with lean turkey), sprinkle flour over all and mix thoroughly. Stir in diced tomatoes and seasonings and cook about 3 minutes. Add frozen peas and remove from heat. 

5 When potatoes are done, drain completely, cover and set over low heat for half a minute to dry thoroughly. Remove from heat, mash, add butter and continue mashing. Stir in milk, salt, pepper and grated Cheddar. Potatoes will be a bit looser than you would make to serve as mashed potatoes; this makes spreading easier.

6 Spread 2/3 cup of the mashed potatoes evenly in each of the 4 storage/baking dishes. Spread 2 cups of the meat filling evenly in each of the 4 dishes, pressing it down firmly. Spread 1 cup of the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat filling. Cover with lids and refrigerate until chilled, and then move containers to freezer. 

7 When you wish to have one of the meals for dinner, just move one from freezer to refrigerator in the morning to thaw. Preheat oven (unfortunately, these dishes are not to be used in a toaster oven) to 350F/180C/Gas4. Remove storage lid, and bake for 20 minutes (longer for larger baking dishes). Or microwave. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

62 comments:

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

The math is a bit more exotic for me. Something like 46 dinners for one. Then, when I eat said 46 down to chromosome territory (23 or so…), I get really inventive with recombinant DNA (Don’t Nibble Anymore), and start to give it out to visitors at the door and lurk in restaurants. Eating high on the hog follows (gourmet restaurants) for a while until I get creative with meals again, which lasts through my repertoire of about 29 different meals, and then the whole cycle repeats as I descend to the 46-1 level. The cosmos is in balance.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Oh, Guv, don't he talk luvly?! Thanks, Sully, glad you're keeping the cosmos in balance!

Richard Sheppard said...

I've always frozen leftovers for another day but Have never froze entire meals for a rainy day. Great idea! Just double the recipe and voila! And Shepherd's pie is one of those dishes I haven't made in a while. I think the last time was when you posted a vegetarian version a few years back. Yum!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Richard! My vegetarian Shepherdless Pie would freeze well, too. Right now I've got multiples of three different meals in the freezer and want to freeze some more, but I need to get more glass containers.

Angie Schneider said...

Freezer meals can be really convenient and I too love to store some for the rainy days. Your Shepherd's pie looks fabulous, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Angie. We like it a lot, so it's great to have a few on hand.

Marilyn Lesniak said...

Thank you for sharing at #The RecipeShareParty Pinned yummed and tweeted.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Marilyn!

Amy at love made my home said...

It is interesting that you put potato on the top and bottom. In England we just put the potato on the top. I am sure it is very tasty! The meat is definitely much tastier when it is well browned as you said to do isn't it!

Stephanie said...

Oh, it's been so long since I have made shepherds pie. Yours looks amazing and sounds incredibly delicious. And you can freeze it! What a fabulous help on busy days :)

I hope you are well, dear Jean. Enjoy these last days of June. Hugs!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Amy, I know, same in US. And my mother and grandmother just put potato on the top. Putting it on top and bottom is just my own personal way of doing it because I *love* mashed potatoes so much.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Stephanie, so good to hear from you. Thank you! Yes, my freezer is my best friend these days -- no slaving over a hot stove on hot summer days for me!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

You are so smart, and I need to take a lesson from you! There are days I just don't want to cook, but I don't want to go out either. Usually that means a quick trip to the store for a frozen pizza. THIS would be so much better!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

BRnLC, thank you! I just eat up compliments like that! :D You're going to love doing this. Whenever you're having one of those days and you just pull a home-cooked meal out of your own freezer, you'll be patting yourself on the back and congratulating yourself on your cleverness!

Inger said...

What a fun blog you have here. My husband was the cook in our family, but he passed away last year. To honor him and feed myself, I'm seriously working on my cooking. So far it's going really well. I will be back to learn something from you as well.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Inger, I'm so sorry for your loss. If you can learn something from me here at Delightful Repast that would honor him, I'd feel honored indeed! Thank you so much!

Cranberry Morning said...

Looks like comfort food to me, no matter what the protein component is. Yum.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

We've always called our beef version shepherd's pie too but one difference between our recipes is you have potatoes on the bottom.
I've used ground pork before but can't recall using the turkey which sounds like a good idea with the long browning session.
This dish is a favourite for my hubby and I, we both grew up with it and always enjoy when I make it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy. I like it with beef, too. Or lentils.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Judith, it is wonderfully comforting to eat something we grew up with! My mother didn't put potatoes on the bottom; that was just something I came up with because mashed potatoes is my favorite food.

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

I love to cook and cook most days, but yes ma'am, we all have those days. It happened to me two nights ago and the grill was already lit. We opted for Chinese take out that was really wasn't all that good. I would have much rather had a serving of this beautiful pie. Thanks for reminding me about planning for freezer meals.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lea Ann, thank you! I think some of us people in the "food world" don't like admitting to "having those days!"

Miz Helen said...

There is not much better than a great Shepherds Pie this looks awesome! Have a great weekend and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Miz Helen!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I used to basically live in freezer meals :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Keith, I could live on freezer meals as long as they were homemade freezer meals.

Cocoa and Lavender said...

This looks delicious, Jean, but we'd have to eat it the same night! I think we would need some sort of special compressor to be able to wedge a pan that big into our freezer…

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you! I haven't seen your freezer, but these little 3-cup rectangles are only about 5x7 inches, and they can squeeze in just about any little space in my small freezer.

Bernideen said...

Dear Jean:
When I worked and if we were expecting company - I was totally into freezing ahead meals. I had to in order to feed them! Great recipe here and would be delicious! Thanks for sharing and linking.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Bernideen! It really helps, doesn't it? I'm getting fonder and fonder of my freezer!

Michelle said...

Hi Jean!
I love Shepards Pie!
I saw your link at Saucy Saturdays and had to check out your recipe. Looks really tasty and I love the idea of freezing it!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Michelle! (And thanks for telling me how you found me!)

Edye Nicole said...

My mom would love this! Do you think I could substitute the turkey for tofu? Thanks so much! :)

Blessings,
Edye | Http://gracefulcoffee.wordpress.com

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Edye! I don't know about the tofu. Instead, take a look at my Vegetarian Shepherdless Pie made with lentils: http://www.delightfulrepast.com/2011/03/vegetarian-shepherds-pie.html

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Your shepherd's pie sounds scrumptious, Jean! It'd be nice to have one stashed away in the freezer! Thanks for sharing your version.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Kitty, thank you. My freezer stash is getting low, must replenish soon!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

I make Shepherd's Pie often because we love it here but I always use lean hamburg. Since I am going to try to cut back on red meat the ground turkey sounds perfect. I have used turkey in Lasagna before and you can't tell the difference. One thing I don't do is put cheese in the potatoes. Now why didn't I think of that? I love cheese! So I will whip that up next time I make it. My whole family is coming home in July and they all love Shepherd's Pie. Making it ahead and freezing it is a good idea. So, thanks for sharing, Jean. Have a fabulous day.

Blessings,
Sandi

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sandi, thank you. It is a wonderful homey dish that is so often done poorly. I like to take the extra time to brown the turkey (or ground beef) properly. And the cheese I think, besides adding flavor, helps the potatoes hold together for neater serving. I could eat it just scooped out of a dish, but Mr. Delightful requires neat slices!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, thank you for sharing this delicious looking meal. Having freezer meals is a great idea too. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Eileen! I'm starting the week off feeling pretty relaxed because of having three different kinds of meals in the freezer AND my post for Thursday ready to go!

Theresa said...

Thanks for the recipe. I've never made freezer meals. I should give that a try sometime.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Oh yeah, Theresa, you need to do this! That way when you are stitching away on one of your beautiful projects, you don't have to worry about making dinner! :D

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

Just popping back to say thanks for linking to my final Mosaic Monday Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

My pleasure, Judith!

Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful! When the weather cools, I will be making some up to enjoy and freeze, too.
Thanks,
Lily

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Lily! In cold weather, I'll heat them up in the oven. But in this warm weather, I'm using the microwave.

robin lorraine williamson said...

thanks for sharing love all things freezer meals have a great day

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Robin! You have a great day, too!

Mountain Mama said...

This is one of my all time favorite freezer meals! Like you, I'll make a big batch so I have some to freeze. Same with lasagna...and meatballs. And, like you, I don't always feel like cooking....but that doesn't mean I want to be out, either. I want to be in my cozy home with a good meal....and this is the perfect solution!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Mountain Mama! That's exactly what I'm talking about!

Wen Green said...

Oh yummy, I love shepherds pie! My mom makes a delicious one, but this recipe looks yummy too, thank you for sharing!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Wen! It's one of my favorite things to eat when I'm craving comfort food.

Annette, 3 Little Buttons said...

A lovely hearty dish! I haven't made one of these for ages. We only have a little freezer, so I don't tend to make things to freeze for another day. It must really help with time saving. Thank you for linking up to the #DreamTeam

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Annette! Mine's pretty small, too, so I like to make it count!

Swathi Iyer said...

Delicious and filling dish thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning and tweeting.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Swathi -- pins and tweets soooo appreciated!

Amanda Komoski said...

I love Shepherd's Pie and the fact that it's an easy throw in the oven is perfect. Thanks for linking up to the Creative K Kids Tasty Tuesday, I look forward to seeing what you create next week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Amanda, thank you! I just pulled one out of the freezer to thaw. It's rather warm today, so I'll be heating it in the microwave. Comes out great.

Maggie said...

Shepherd's Pie is one of my husband's signature dishes to make, he always batch cooks 3, one for dinner and two for the freezer. His moussaka is pretty great too!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Maggie, what a guy! I haven't made moussaka in ages -- thanks for the reminder!

Suzie Jackson said...

This is awesome. Your pie looks fantastic and so yummy. I will pin this to do in the future for sure! eeek so happy to find it at the homemaking party today!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Suzie! Pins and other social media shares are always enormously appreciated! Let me know how this turns out for you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...