make-ahead shepherd's pie

i'm all about efficiency and low effort in the kitchen, which i have my grandmother to thank. if there was a way to use less dishes or to save time, she'd find it. during the summer before i got married, we cooked together a few times, and she also taught me that improvising is ok (which is why my "recipes" are all approximations). efficiency tips that mommom would be proud of are in italics. 

as i prepare for baby hood's arrival, i'd like to have a few meals ready to travel that far distance from the freezer to the oven. you can't beat this easy, make-ahead meal! :)

what you need: 
--a bunch of ground beef (sorry to be so exact)
--6 potatoes (or whatever you've got on hand)
--milk and butter for mashing the potatoes
--half a bag of frozen veggie mix (...or, whatever chopped, random vegetables you've got)
--1 can cream of mushroom soup
--seasonings like garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc.
--shredded cheddar cheese
--1 pan/dish that you won't miss if it sits in the freezer for a few weeks!

what you do: 
1// brown the beef over the stove.
**save time by browning the meat while boiling water/while the potatoes boil

2// boil the potatoes.
**why peel the potatoes and waste all that potato, not to mention all that time? just chop them and toss them in! 

3// once the ground beef is fully cooked and drained, add the 1 can of cream of mushroom and the frozen veggies. stir these around til they're well-mixed.
**cut down on dishes you have to wash! stir the soup/veggies into the same pan you browned the meat in.

4// set the meat mixture into the dish you'll be baking/freezing the pie in.

**while you wait for the potatoes to get soft, start washing the meat pan and any other dishes! 

5// once the potatoes are soft, mash them and add butter then milk then some seasonings.
**mash the potatoes in the same pot you boiled them in so you have less dishes at the end. 

6// smooth the potatoes over the meat and veggie mixture in your pie dish (or baking pan), and sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top.

for eating right away:
bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

for eating later
seal tightly, label with the date, and stick it in the freezer. (if using a glass dish like i did, stick it in the fridge 24 hours before baking.) bake for 30-45 minutes at 325 degrees, or until the potatoes are slightly browned and the cheese is melted. feel free to add extra butter and cheese on top!

what are some of your favorite meals to have on hand? do you have any special tips/tricks to make cooking more efficient? 

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