After making a lot of pies I thought I had better check on the current prices at the local bakery to be ready for today.
Major shock! It is lucky I didn't guess that is for sure. I found that a plain pie is $4.90 and a potato pie is $5.10! A family pie is $24. I was obviously seriously out of touch and hadn't bought one for a while!
So for my challenge this means my 17 individual meat pies were:
13 potato topped pies = $66.30
4 pastry topped pies= $19.60
1 family sized meat pie = $24.
When I made these we ate a meal of beef casserole, baked potatoes and sour cream on the first night as well. So my savings from this cook up were much more than I thought!
I also did regular things, made all the lunches for work and made the fishing day food all of which saves about $150.
I washed up my wool blankets where many people get these dry cleaned.
Made 12 jam tarts.
We had two use it up dinners which were yummy.
And I did my own manicure.
All up I wrote $345 in my savings book.
My savings subject this week is going to be pies. It is a big saving making them but additional savings come from the fact that you can use up a lot of left overs to make them! Also that many stews, casseroles, savour mince, curries etc can become a pie and you get a really different meal from left overs. And many cold meats that are left over can become a hot meal again in a pie.
The next way they save you is they are so easy to make and are a complete meal in one package. They freeze very well. So they make great meals on busy days and in emergencies.
If you keep basics like these in the freezer you never need takeaway.
A pie is also a lovely gift as it is a whole meal. For someone who lives alone and isn't well I would make a dozen small pies that can go into the freezer and taken out one at a time.
Many men especially seem to just love meat. Pies are a meaty meal they seem to like. Yet they are a meat stretcher! An individual pie is a meal in itself and this is how they are eaten here in Australia, especially at lunch time. But you can serve pie for dinner and add mashed potato and all kinds of vegetables to the plate making your meat go even further.
For kids that are not very good on their vegetables you can smuggle so many into pies as they cook down so basically without knowing it you are feeding them tomato concentrate, onion, mushroom, carrots and whatever else you have added in. You can pack in a lot of goodness.
This is just the way I make pies. It is really easy and I cheat anyway as I always keep puff pastry sheets in the freezer. If you want to make your own pastry then use a favourite recipe instead.
I use my crockpot as to me that is the easiest thing and you get lovely tender meat. However if you make stews or casseroles in the oven then that will work too. I would never make a single serve casserole. I always stretch it or double or triple it and make spare meals or pies.
In this case I made beef pies. I knew I mainly wanted pies but that on the first night we would have this meal as a casserole with baked potatoes and sour cream. So mid afternoon I sunk whole big potatoes in to the mix so I just fished them out for dinner!
This mixture was beef cut up roughly, 3 large onions chopped, about four cups chopped mushrooms, about 1.5 kilos beef (there are 2.2 lbs in a kilo) ) a tin of tomato soup, some soy sauce, heaps of carrots and broccoli... sometimes I use a tin of mushroom soup but I didn't this time... seasoning...
It went all day and at the end I thickened it slightly with some gravy mix. But then it was quite rich and beefy. I break up the meat with a spoon a bit before pie filling.
I let it cool and put the whole lot in the fridge overnight and made my pies the next day.
If you have a regular recipe for stew or casserole that you like it is going to make good pies! See how you can add more veggies to this and turn it into wonderful pie filling. Left over casserole becomes a whole new meal once in a pie!
Beef is expensive here now. So is lamb. But you can see all the vegetables far outweigh the beef and yet when it cooks down it looks really meaty.
Some other good combinations are chicken or turkey pies.... onion, celery, corn, carrots and a tin of cream of chicken soup. This is so easy and yum! It makes a great casserole and great pies! Or any chicken casserole recipe that you like.
Venison... either a red wine or tomato base and winter vegetables.
Lamb, rosemary, mint, veggies...
Mince (ground beef) tomato soup or tomato puree, gravy, onion, herbs...
Curry... chicken or beef curry makes beautiful pies!
All of the above combinations are so flexible. Do not ever add water to your crockpot unless you're making soup. Thats my tip!
Use flavours your family loves and use what is a good price where you live. Currently here is it cheapest to make chicken pies. Or to simply use up left overs in your pies.
You can also use cooked meat. In this case you can skip the cooking phase as if you use smallish chopped veggies they will cook in your pie. Basically you need to shred the meat or chop it up, add some liquid or gravy (I would use a tin of soup) add your veggies... I would use chopped carrots, celery, a tin of corn, onion... and fill your pastry case.
You want your mix to have a gravy base without being to runny. Think thick casserole consistency.
I used a large sized muffin try to make individual pies. If you have little kids I would make them little ones in the right sized tray for them. Just crease your plates, trays and I always add a square of baking paper underneath. This stops you getting any broken ones.
Then fill them about 3/4 so there is room for topping or pastry topping.
I topped these with mashed potato and a sprinkle of cheese and baked them.
Others I topped with pastry. These are really small pie dishes so still individual in size.
When I cut my pastry I set aside the cut off bits and these become your decorations. I take no time over this and you can do anything you want. You could cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter and scatter these over the top. I used to get the girls to make shapes from the offcuts and they would go on top. Boy did we have some interesting decorations! They would spell words and all kinds of stuff. Or you could put on the initial of each person. Kids love their name things!
For the sake of the freezer I used to put C for chicken or B for beef on pies too.
With the scraps I quickly cut leaf shapes. I am not fussy about this and it's quite random. If you are a perfectionist maybe get a leaf cookie cutter.
To make a rose just cut a strip maybe 3/4 inch wide and roll it up...
Sit your leaves around your rose. On a larger pie I will do three roses. Squish the rose down a little into the pie and squish the "petals" out just slightly...
This is very forgiving and not an art competition. Its a pie. It all looks pretty good when baked!
You can brush your pie with a glaze such as egg and milk. I mist mine with olive oil spray.
Don't forget to seal your edges and prick some air holes.
Don't let perfectionism stop you.
I have a very flexible attitude to the whole process. Whatever vegetables I have in the fridge that need using are going to go into my pie.
If I am short of pastry I will do pastry bottoms and potato tops. You can do a scalloped potato top. Or sweet potato. Or pumpkin and potato. Or you could use no pastry on the bottom and use a little individual casserole dish and just a pastry top!
If you intend your pie to be frozen or re heated I would cook them a little light so they are still blonde and not too dark. This means on the reheating day they won't end up looking too dark or dry.
When cold they freeze so well. I pop them into sealed bags and label.
If I know I am having a busy day I might take a pie out of the freezer in the morning. If I am caught later in the day I will choose individual ones as I can thaw those quickly in the microwave and finish them off in the oven.
When we go away on holidays I might take a pie out of the freezer in the morning before we leave. When we get to our destination and by evening it will have mostly thawed and I will pop it in the oven for dinner.
Fruit pies are just as easy but another subject. I will do some when we get to summer with fruit coming in.
Another time I will do pasties as you need very little meat for them and almost all vegetables. They also freeze well!
I think our pies are similar to US pot pies... only portable as they are usually totally encased in pastry and you can eat them in your hand.
I hope pies will help you use up your left overs and give you ready meals and save you money!
How did you go last week in your savings challenge? As usual I learned something and got a surprise with prices!
Have a great new week! I think we are all experiencing the first signs of a new season! xxx