Simply Delicious Shepherd's Pie

Ryan Eckles, Project Bread

School Lunch

School Lunch Recipe: Utilizing USDA Foods

Simply Delicious Shepherd's Pie

I created this recipe with Salem Public Schools in response to changes in meal service due to COVID-19. We heard from districts that they had a lot of USDA foods in their freezers that they wanted to use, and this recipe utilizes those foods in abundance! The recipe can be adjusted to whatever you might have on hand from fresh to canned to just about any frozen vegetable available. This version calls for mushrooms but I’ve also made it with broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, parsnips, edamame, kale, spinach, turnips - the list goes on. Try using sweet potatoes or butternut squash for the topping. If you don’t have dried thyme then try it with dried basil, or oregano. Get creative and make it your own!

Yield: 100 servings, 4 oz. portions


17 lbs ground beef, raw
2 Tbsp cooking oil
5 ¾ lbs frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn)
2 ¼ lbs frozen diced mushrooms
2 ¼ lbs frozen peppers and onion mix
¼ cup garlic powder
¼ cup onion powder
¼ cup dried thyme, whole leaves
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup beef or chicken base
1 cup hot water
2 tsps salt or to taste
2 tsps Black Pepper

15 lbs frozen diced potatoes, boiled or steamed until soft and still hot
½ lbs Margarine or Butter softened and cubed
2-3 cups Milk or until smooth but not soupy
1 Tbsp salt or to taste
2 bunches fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (optional)


  1. Using the tilt skillet or steam-jacketed kettle, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add beef and use a paddle or metal spatula to break up beef. Allow beef to brown and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until fully cooked. Drain excess fat from skillet or kettle.
  2. Add mushrooms, garlic, onion, thyme, black pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add peppers and onions (if using fresh peppers and onions, add them when you add the mushrooms) and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
  3. Dissolve beef/chicken base in hot water. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock and simmer for 5-7 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Steam or boil potatoes until they are tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix potatoes on low. Add margarine and 1 Tbsp salt, and continue to mix.
  6. With mixer running, carefully add milk 1 cup at a time until fully incorporated and potatoes are a smooth consistency. Add up to 3 cups of milk if the potatoes are still too thick. Taste for salt, and add up to 1 Tbsp more salt if needed.
  7. To serve, place a 2 oz. scoop of beef filling in a bowl, then top with a 2 oz. scoop of mashed potato and serve. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley.


  1. Transfer the shepherd’s pie filling and mashed potatoes to deep hotel pans and place on rolling carts. Place rolling carts in walk-in and allow filling and potatoes to cool.
  2. While the filling and potatoes are cooling, set up your assembly line by putting the microwave safe containers onto sheet pans, fitting as many as you can on your station.
  3. Fill each container with a 2 oz. scoop of filling and top with a 2 oz. scoop of mashed potatoes.
  4. Once all containers are filled, cover with lids and make sure they are sealed tight.
  5. Add label of cooking directions on the lid and put the sheet pans onto a speed rack and roll into the freezer.
  6. Give the shepherd’s pie 24 hours to fully freeze then transfer to coolers for transportation to the schools.

Reheating Directions

Cooking times may vary depending on microwave wattage.

  1. Heat from frozen for 4 minutes on high with lid slightly opened at the corner.
  2. Uncover and stir contents then heat for additional 1-2 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165°F.
  3. Let sit for 3 minutes to cool before eating.

USDA Requirement

2 oz. meat/meat alternative

Nutritional Information

Calories 253 calories Saturated Fat 4.4 g Sodium 158 mg Carbohydrate 15.8 g

* nutrient data and allergen information may vary depending on the specific ingredients and equipment used in your location.

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