Shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie, which uses beef mince instead of lamb) is cheap, filling and tasty, so it’s no wonder we love it in this nation! We’ve got some expert tips and small steps you can take to move your shepherd’s pie from good to great, and increasing veg slowly over time.
Why is shepherd’s pie so great?
Shepherd’s pie is a classic for a reason – it is tasty, filling and affordable.
Mash is a great vehicle for some extra veg, and with a smaller portion of meat and some added veg, becomes a balanced meal that will fill you up, too. See some tips for which veg are great to add to mash, the sauce, or on the side of this supper, below!
Pies like these are also easy to batch cook – making a double batch and freezing one means you have a meal that only needs cooking through all ready and waiting!
If your family are big shepherd’s pie fans, a focus on smaller, better quality portions of meat where possible, while adding a little more veg in the mash or sauce, could actually make a marked improvement in the meal and take it to a new, healthier level.
Use the basic recipe, small tweaks and tips below to take your shepherd’s (or cottage) pie from good to better!
How are your shepherd’s pie skills?
I’m just starting out.
I’m ready to take it to the next level.
How can I get my kids involved and interested?
Shepherd’s pie is a classic for a reason
It is tasty, filling and affordable.
Here is a simple recipe for Shepherd’s pie which you can use as a base and build on over time…
Minced meat or veggie alternative
A jar of tomato sauce
Mashed potatoes (fresh, frozen, pre-prepped – whatever works for you)
Optional frozen peas or carrots
preheat your oven to 200C/gas 6.
Cook the mince in a little oil in a frying pan until browned. Stir through the jar of sauce and let it simmer for a few mins to heat through. If using frozen peas or carrots, add them to the sauce and simmer until cooked (the packet will tell you how long this should take).
If making mash, boil peeled and chopped potatoes until soft, then drain and mash with a little salt & pepper and oil, butter or milk if you feel it needs it.
In a casserole dish, pour the meat sauce, then top with the mashed potatoes. Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins, until golden and bubbling
There is no need to go any further with this recipe until you are confident with it and feel up for the next step.
Feeling ready? Let’s see how you can get your next small victory without battles…
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
The eventual aim, if possible, is to get kids in the kitchen. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to mean they are with you from start-to-end creating mess and rising stress levels! It can be as simple as giving them one small job (stirring, measuring, pouring, grating, chopping…) ideally involving veg. They can come in to do their little bit, and have fun with you for a few minutes. Getting them involved, making it playful and praising them plenty for their involvement, perhaps even serving it as dinner they “made”, makes it much more likely they will eat the food offered, not to mention teaching them important life skills. Find ideas, safety tips, videos and even a free chart in our Kids in the Kitchen section here.
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.
I Want To Improve My Shepherd’s Pie
If you are feeling confident with your favourite shepherd’s pie recipe, but you’re wondering if there are some small tweaks you could make for the better, this is for you.
We’ve outlined some simple stages for continually improving on a basic shepherd’s or cottage pie recipe to get you from good to great. Find where you feel your current recipe sits and see if the next step is something you could aim for. You don’t have to go any further, but if you choose to, make sure you are feeling confident with this new stage before you try the next one.
And remember, the MOST important thing is that the family enjoys the meal! These changes and swaps can take as long as is needed if your family isn’t ready for big changes all in one go. Small simple improvements over time may not even be noticed.
Play is essential!
Think of children helping in the kitchen as a role play game filled with fun for maximum effect. One of the best ways to develop a love of veg in kids is to get them involved in the prep of the veg. Not only is cooking an essential life skill for kids to learn, but it’s a great, fun way to get them engaging with healthy foods!
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Need to get your kids eating more veg?
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