The best cottage pie recipe in the world, ever!

Cottage pieMy simple but excellent Cottage Pie recipe for frugal parents to feed a family. I know this because 7 ate all the carrot, and she doesn’t like carrots.

4-6 servings -ish depending on portion and people sizes.


500g Beef mince
Large carrot
1 celery stick
4 potatoes (fist-ish sized)
Salt & Pepper
2 Beef stock cubes
Tin of chopped tomatoes
500g sugar
Vacuum cleaner
Sense of humour


1. Over a medium-high heat, heat some oil in a saucepan or deep frying pan.

2. Peel & chop the carrot & celery into slices, realising it will take longer than expected while the oil gets hotter than planned. Remove heat and allow oil and pan to cool a little while you’re still chopping, or allow it to smoke and set off the fire alarm – your choice.

3. Place pan back on the heat and add carrots & celery. These need to soften for a few minutes – not brown, so turn the heat down so they’re just sizzling. As they soften, chop the onion & garlic then add to the pan.

4. Remember that potatoes take longer to cook and should have gone on first.

5. Peel, chop and put them in a pan of water & set to boil. Go for 1-2 cm chunks so they cook quickly. You’re going to mash them anyway.

6. Notice that carrots, celery & onions have started to brown while you’ve been focussing on the potatoes, add tin of chopped tomatoes and turn heat down.

7. Fry mince in separate pan, breaking up with wooden spatula to ensure small ‘grains’ and evenly browned.

8. As mince is frying, season sauce with salt & pepper. While looking in cupboard for stock cubes knock 500g bag of sugar on floor. Ensure it splits. Ignore and return to bubbling sauce.

9. Crush stock cubes over sauce & stir. Drain mince and add to sauce. Add good pinch of rosemary and basil.

10. Stir.

11. Turn oven on to 160 and hunt for suitable dish to transfer sauce to. Check potatoes are cooked and drain. Mash with butter, milk, salt and pepper.

12. Pour sauce into dish, spoon mash on top, spread evenly and fluff with a fork. Place in only-just-hot-in-time oven, pour wine and survey the carnage.

13. Vacuum up sugar.

14. Notice unused peas and put back in freezer.

15. When potato starts to brown, remove and serve with salad (from a bag – it’s so much easier!).

16. Enjoy wine and rejoice as child eats ALL of it, including the carrot, onion & celery that they “really don’t like Daddy”.

17. Over your meal, discuss what kinds of cottages were used in the recipe. Witches and wizards apparently, goblins live in dens.

18. Gloat on social media.

Serious budget conscious tips:

Depending on what and how you cook, you’ll typically end up with things like celery & carrot going to waste as you’ll have more than you can use without repeating similar meals.

Chop them into lengths that will fit into a freezer safe box, and freeze. The skin on the carrot will turn brown when it defrosts – don’t worry, peel it. The carrot is still good.

I often use a knife with a serrated blade to cut frozen celery rather than defrosting it, then add it straight to the pan.

The same or very similar ingredients can be used to make Lasagne, Bolognese & Chilli – so plan your meals & buy ingredients in bulk to save.

More on saving money on your groceries here.

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