Cottage Pie

cottage pie: rehydrated ground beef on top of instant mashed potatoes
731 calories
183 grams

4 cal/g

40gdehydrated ground beef198 cal
2g, 1 tspbeef bouillon5 cal
112g1 packet instant mashed potatoes440 cal
10gdehydrated peas & carrots30 cal
3gdehydrated mushrooms8 cal
5gdehydrated celery12 cal
5gdehydrated tomato paste15 cal
0.5gthyme0 cal
5gdehydrated onions23 cal
dashpepper0 cal

Note: makes TWO SERVINGS!

Serving Size: 

TWO Hikers


Bag 1:

  • Leave contents of mashed potatoes in original packaging, or portion into smaller bag if using bulk instant potato.

Bag 2:

  • beef
  • peas & carrots
  • mushrooms
  • celery
  • onions

Bag 3:

  • beef bouillon
  • tomato paste
  • pepper
  • thyme


  • Bag 2 and Bag 3 can be combined together; and items separated and fished out as needed.

Cottage pie and shepherd's pie are often used synonymously, but the phrase ‘cottage pie’ predates ‘shepherd's pie’ by nearly 80 years.

I’m of the belief that they’re not actually the same; same idea, same execution, but different protein. Shepherd’s herd sheep, and thus shepherd’s pie should be made with mutton or lamb, and not beef. On the other hand, a cottage is a small house, so there’s not much correlation there in terms of protein choice.

Personal preference and semantics aside, I choose to call this meal Cottage Pie and I make it with ground beef. If you prefer lamb, then go nuts with it and call it what you will. Ground turkey would work great as well; you can make up your own clever name. Just remember that one of the goals of making your own backpacking meal is affordability, and those two other proteins are significantly more expensive than regular ground beef (at least in the United States).

Possibly due to the extremely affordable nature of cottage pie it just doesn’t photograph well. I’d argue it’s one of the most unappetizing looking meals known to man. There’s not many ways to doll up a pile of mashed potatoes and gooey ground beef. Of course I could present it with a delicate creamy smear of mashed potatoes culminating in a heaping tablespoon of ground beef carefully garnished with a disturbingly perfect sprig of parsley. Except I doubt I’d be able to pull it off; but mostly, I prefer my mashed potatoes sloppy.

What I do know is that the taste is inversely proportional to the looks. So what if it looks like a heaping mass of paste, it tastes amazing and you’ll be scarfing it down so fast that before you know it you just might be keeled over in agony because of overeating.

cottage pie mixed up

The other remarkable thing is the amount of food this makes. A single packet of mashed potatoes eaten with nothing else is enough to overfeed a large man; it’s just a lot of taters. When the whole packet is used with the recommended amount of beef and other fixings you can easily feed two very hungry people, possibly even three if you stretch it a bit. The dry volume compared to its prepared volume is pretty staggering.

Don’t fret my vegetarian friends! This is probably one of the easiest recipes to substitute ingredients; and it actually reduces the amount of work you have to do. Replace the ground beef with textured vegetable protein, or if you prefer, even dehydrated tofu. TVP comes in various ‘flavors’ but you can use whatever variety you desire and jazz it up as you see fit. 

cottage pie ingredients

Go forth and eat this tasty trail paste! And don’t forget to lick your bowls, plates, spoons, and sporks clean because mashed potatoes dries like cement. Fortunately, it also fills your stomach with the same cement feeling, so save this for a particularly famished day.

Remember, this recipe makes TWO large servings.


Option 1:

  1. Empty contents of Bag 2 into pot with enough water to completely submerge ingredients.
  2. Place on heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then let rest for 5 additional minutes.
  3. If beef and peas & carrots are tender, drain, but not too thoroughly. Otherwise, repeat step 2.
  4. Add contents of Bag 3, and stir until tomato paste has dissolved. If necessary, add a splash of water and place back on heat.
  5. Empty cooked beef into a bowl or plate.
  6. Fill pot with 2-3 cups of water (or as directed by instant mashed potato packaging) and bring to a simmer.
  7. Add Bag 1 (instant mashed potatoes), remove from heat, stir, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Place mashed potatoes on top of beef and eat!

Option 2: Perform the steps as above, but skip step 5. This will produce a completely mixed pot of potatoes and beef.