29 August 2018

Making Meals Cheaper - One Pan Dinners

French Shepherd's Pie
When time is poor and the budget is tight, my go to dinners are simple one-pan meals. I love them.

Almost a whole meal is done in one pan - only one pan to wash! That really makes me smile. Only one burner on the stove = less gas used, a slightly cheaper bill and that make me smile too. Or just the slow cooker or pressure cooker is used - both of them pretty much set and forget cooking and I smile when I use these "handmaidens" because they free me up to do other things.

But what I really like about one pan dinners is that they make meals cheaper.

One pan dinners often use very little meat. Think Tuna Surprise is another budget winner, coming in at around 60 cents per serve (depending on which tuna you buy and whether you MOO the cream of chicken soup or buy a tin). It's simply a tin of tuna, a tin of cream of chicken soup (or the equivalent of MOO Cream of Chicken Soup), 3 cups of cooked rice or macaroni and then whatever leftover or sad veggies you have. I often add frozen peas and corn, grated carrot, diced onion, sliced celery, shredded silverbeet or spinach, and grated zucchini depending on what is lurking in the fridge or freezer. To keep the cost down, instead of grated cheese, the top is sprinkled with MOO breadcrumbs that have been mixed in a little melted butter. This is delicious with salad, hot or cold and it freezes and thaws well.

Tonight we're having French Shepherd's Pie for dinner. Yes, I've rearranged the meal plan yet again - it's not set in concrete. After a club dinner at the weekend we were gifted the leftover roast lamb, roast beef and roast chicken, as well as peas, corn, carrots and a big tub of gravy. There was enough for at least five meals for us, and that's an enormous blessing.

It was all immediately packaged into meal portions and put into the freezer, but when Hannah realised there was some lamb, she requested French Shepherd's Pie.

French Shepherd's Pie uses as little as 200g of leftover roast meat, some mashed potato and a few herbs and can easily feed six people for under $3 - that's just 50 cents a serve and a definite budget winner. And tonight's dinner will cost under $2, with leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

I love one pan dinners, especially when they're almost free. Even when they're not, they save so much time and energy I try to have at least one on the meal plan each week.

Yield: 6

French Shepherd's Pie

This dish uses the scraps of lamb left from a roast. You don't need a lot of meat to make a hearty dinner, full of flavour, that everyone will love.


  • Leftover roast lamb or beef, about 200g OR
    200g mince
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Olive oil for frying


  1. Oil a lasagne dish well. Cut lamb or beef into 1cm cubes or brown and drain mince. 
  2. In a large fry pan heat a little olive oil and fry onion until transparent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add meat and herbs, mix to combine.
  4. Mash potatoes and stir through the meat mixture. 
  5. Pat the potato mixture into the lasagne dish. Run a fork over the top of the potato to rough up. Brush with beaten egg.
  6. Cook in a moderate oven for 25 - 30 minutes until heated through and top is golden brown. Serve warm.
Created using The Recipes Generator

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