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Perfect for a chilly day

Perfect for a chilly day.

Just because you’re trying to save money at the grocery store, doesn’t mean that you have to live on just rice and beans your whole life. Every now and then you have to treat yourself to a little something-something.

If there’s a good deal on a more ‘luxury’ ingredient, snatch it up and make yourself something nice! I found a good deal on ground lamb for just $3.98 per lb as it approached it’s ‘sell-by’ date and I’m going to turn it into two yummy meals. It seems like my fireman was on the same page as me, because when he took a trip down the hill and visited a farmer’s market with his folks he found a good price on some nice cremini mushrooms. With some extra mashed potatoes leftover in the fridge, that seemed like the perfect storm for a nice shepherd’s pie.

What a pretty bag of funghi!

What a pretty bag of funghi!

When you think about it, so many of our most beloved dishes were made to stretch out a little bit of something expensive or fancy.  Savory pies, every sort of dumpling under the sun, most soups, stuffed pastas, satays…  Just like every thrifty person since the dawn of time has figured out, if you can pick a dish that economically utilizes a more expensive ingredient, you can get a better bang for your buck.

This dish costs more than my usual dinner-fare, but I think it’s a really great value for the high quality ingredients. A splurge on fancy ingredients doesn’t hit so hard when you know you got a good deal; I think it makes it taste even better.

Lamb and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 2 – 4 – cost approx $2.20 per serving


  • 1/2 lb gr lamb ($1.99)
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, caps quartered and stems small dice ($2.50)
  • 1 onion, small dice ($.25)
  • 2 carrots, small dice ($.18)
  • 2 ribs celery, small dice ($.10)
  • 4 Tbs/ 1/2 stick butter ($.37)
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste ($.05)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup red wine ($.15)
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup stock – doesn’t matter, vegetable or meat stock will be just fine
  • 2 Tbs minced parsley (optional)
  • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes ($.75)
  • 2 Tbs parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  In an oven safe large pan or pot brown the lamb, seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove meat, leaving the fat in the pan. Sear caps, over medium high heat and season with salt and pepper 8-10 min. Trust me! Get them nice and brown, only stir it a few times to get them happy and browned up.

Reduce the heat to medium and add in the butter, minced onion, carrot, celery, and mushroom stems and then sauté 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomato paste and flour, cook 3 minutes.  Add in the wine, Worcestershire sauce and cook 2 minutes, then add in the stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste to check the seasonings and add salt or black pepper if needed. Finish the lamb stew with the parsley.

Saucy goodness

Saucy goodness

Top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.