Budget Friendly Shepard’s Pie

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Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday

[I made this Budget Friendly Shepard’s Pie for Earth Fare! It still has all the meaty flavor, but we’re just using a little grass-fed beef and bulking the rest of the filling up with veggies and lentils!]

I’ll be honest – a huge portion of our family’s budget goes to groceries. 

I think it’s so important to invest in quality food ingredients, and in the long run it pays you back. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll avoid expensive trips to the doctor and health issues down the road! 

That being said, I wanted to reinvent classic Shepard’s pie in a way that was affordable–without cutting any corners on the quality of ingredients. 

I went classic with the topping, because mashed potatoes are affordable and delicious! If you have a little more flexibility with your food budget, I also LOVE to do 1/2 cauliflower and 1/2 mashed potatoes.

The filling of this Shepard’s pie is what we’re remixing here. 

I adore grass-fed ground beef (which may be a weird thing to adore, but I do.) It’s extremely healthy, versatile, and pretty dang affordable–especially if you get it on sale. 

For this “budget friendly” version of Shepard’s pie, we’re only using 1/2 pound of grass fed beef, and bulking up the rest of the filling with lentils! 

The beef is enough to give you that hearty, beefy feel and the lentils do more than just reduce the cost. 

Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition—full of fiber, important minerals, and protein. They’re a great hack if you’re trying to stretch your meat further. 

Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday

Sneaking in all the veggies!

And of course, no meal is complete without a hefty serving of veggies! 

For a really affordable version, I used carrots, celery, onions, and frozen peas. 

DISCLAIMER: I also experimented with replacing the celery with mushrooms, which I personally prefer. Mushrooms are a bit more expensive, however, so use what you love and what your grocery budget allows for! 

Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday

Basically, everything gets cooked together along with some beef broth, tomato paste, and coconut aminos to give you a saucy, stew-like filling that’s delicious on it’s own. 

But add the mashed potatoes/cauliflower on top and bake until hot and bubbly? 

That makes for the ultimate cozy night in. 

Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday

Serve it up on a cold night with a simple side salad (maybe a little feta cheese) and you’ll be perfectly content staying inside ☺️

Budget Friendly Shepard’s Pie Variations 

  • I love the beef in here for the flavor, protein, and health benefits. But you could easily make this vegetarian by simply adding extra veggies in place of the meat and using vegetable broth.
  • Ground lamb in place of ground grass fed beef would be delicious!
  • Swap out the celery for mushrooms if you prefer! They add a great texture and “meaty” flavor. 
  • Swap out the mashed potato topping with pureed cauliflower for a low-carb version. Or, do what I really love: go 1/2 and 1/2 with the cauli and potatoes. 
  • I love to make this Shepard’s pie a day ahead, because the flavors get better with time. To reheat, cover with tin foil and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. 

Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday

Budget Friendly Shepard’s Pie

Category: Beef, Recipes

Serves 4-6

Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday


    For the Filling
  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • ½ pound grass fed ground beef
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, very finely chopped OR 1.5 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 smallish yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup Coconut Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • About 2 cups beef broth
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
    For the Topping
  • 2 to 2.5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Splash of coconut milk or cream


    To make the topping
  1. Add cubed potatoes to a pot of boiling water with a few generous pinches of salt. Cover and boil for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  2. Drain potatoes and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  3. Add potatoes back to the pot along with the butter and splash of coconut milk or cream. Mash until you achieve your desired consistency, thinning with reserved cooking liquid and adjusting seasoning to taste. Reserve.
    To make the filling
  1. Rinse the lentils and add them to a pot along with 3 cups of water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes, add ½ cup of the beef broth and ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook covered for an additional 5-10 minutes, until lentils are tender but not mushy.
  3. While lentils cook, add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to a pan with olive oil. (If using mushrooms, add them in place of celery). Season with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are quite soft, 15 minutes or so, adding broth to the vegetables to deglaze the pan as necessary.
  4. Add tomato paste, paprika, and Coconut Aminos or soy sauce and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in frozen peas during the last minute of cooking and remove vegetables from pan and reserve.
  5. Bring the same pan back to medium high heat and add olive oil and ground beef. Brown the beef and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked lentils to the beef along with ½ to 1 cup of broth and a generous glug of olive oil.
  6. Add the cooked vegetables back into the pan with the beef and lentils and stir everything to combine, adding more broth if necessary (you want the filling to be saucy but not soupy). Taste and season to your preference.
    Assembling the pie
  1. If using a skillet for the pie (as pictured above) simply add the mashed potatoes to cover the pie filling and spread evenly.
  2. If using another serving dish, transfer filling to the dish, add the mashed potatoes to cover the pie filling and spread evenly.
  3. Bake the pie in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. You can broil for the last few minutes to get a little crisp to the top.
  4. Allow to cool slightly and serve with a side salad and feta cheese, if desired.


For a lower carb version, top with mashed or pureed cauliflower, or use 1/2 potatoes and 1/2 cauliflower. I like to steam 1-2 cups of cauliflower, and then puree it in my food processor with a little bit of coconut milk. I then add this puree to my mashed potatoes to "lighten them up."


Budget Friendly Shepard's Pie | Reclaiming Yesterday


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