Barb Hodgens
Barb Hodgens

Barb Hodgens loves to cook with alternative, healthy whole food ingredients, with a focus on gut health. Barb has overcome her own gut health issues through healthy eating. Share your ideas, comments and photos at the end of this post :)

cottage pies

Stock the freezer with this winter favourite.

When it comes to comfort food, Cottage pie is a classic. Often called, Shepherd’s pie, which is almost identical however made with lamb. This classic cottage pie features a richly flavoured savoury beef mince base layer with a golden mashed potato and parmesan crusted topping. It’s a great value for money meal, that’s easy to make and uses simple everyday ingredients.

Best of all, Cottage pie is truly perfect to make in advance and reheat, or freeze to have pre-prepared, ready to serve, homemade meals stocked in your freezer. Streamline your meal preparation time and washing up when you portion, assemble, bake, store, and serve in the one container! We used 5 x 750 ml Fresh vacuum containers that can conveniently go from the freezer to the oven and then into your handbag. 

cottage pie


Makes 5 – 6 portions.


Beef sauce base
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 kg (2.2 lb) beef mince (ground beef)
¼ cup plain flour (or corn flour for GF option)
2 cups (500 ml) beef stock
1/3 cup tomato paste

½ cup (125 ml) red wine (or extra stock of water)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 3 sprigs fresh)
½ teaspoon dried rosemary (or 2-inch sprig fresh)
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

Mashed potato topping
1.3 kg (2.8 lbs) potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

Water for boiling
3-4 tablespoons (45-60g) butter
½ cup (125 ml) milk
½ teaspoon salt or more to taste.
1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated 


1.   Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.
2.   Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes or until they begin to soften.

cottage pie steps

   Add the minced beef and cook while breaking it up with a wooden spoon until the beef is brown all the way through.

4.   Add the flour and stir it in then add all the remaining ingredients.
5.   Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until it reduces and thickens. You don’t want excess liquid.
6.   Portion the mince into 5 or 6 (750 ml) Fresh vacuum containers. (Depending on your desired portion size) then set aside to cool before adding the mash.

cottage pies

   Whilst your beef is simmering, get started on the mash. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until soft.

8.   Drain in a colander. Leave them sit in the colander for 10 minutes to dry out, then return the potatoes to the same pot.
9.   Add the milk, butter, and salt then mash until smooth. Taste test - add more salt or butter if you like.
10.  Portion the mash into the containers then spread carefully to the sides. Trail a fork through the mash to roughen the surface.
11.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

cottage pie

  When the cottage pies are assembled, you can choose to cook them (go to step 13.) or secure the lids on the containers and employ the pump to vacuum seal. Once sealed, the assembled and ready to heat cottage pies will keep fresh for 5 days in the fridge or freezer for 3 months.  Thaw frozen cottage pies in the fridge overnight before cooking.

13.  Preheat oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF.
14.  Place the containers in the oven (without lids) for around 30 mins or until golden and crispy on top.
15.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.

cottage pies

  Alternatively, leave to cool completely before placing the lids on and vacuum sealing the containers. Cooked cottage pies will also keep fresh for 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.

17.  When reheating cottage pies, preheat the oven to 160ºC / 320ºF then place your pie in the oven for 20-30 mins. Stick a knife into the middle to ensure it is piping hot throughout. Or reheat in a microwave according to instructions.


cottage pie