Happy to announce I've dialed in my latest recipe for backpacking: Cottage Pie! (Shepherd's Pie but with ground beef)

One really important note - because I don't do this that often, I didn't want to spend money on a large bulk order of freeze-dried ground beef. So I cooked up ground beef and then dehydrated it. Dehydrating meat is fine AS LONG AS you take some precautions. So if you want to use this recipe and you're not familiar with proper handling of meat when dehydrating, I'd strongly recommend getting freeze-dried hamburger.

Before the recipe, here's how I dehydrated and packaged the ground beef for use in this recipe:

  • Use as lean a beef as you can get. I used 96% lean. It's the fat that will go rancid and cause potential issues with food-born illness, so you want to reduce the amount of fat as much as you can
  • Cook the ever-loving $#@%*  out of it. You're about to dehydrate it anyway so you don't care if it's dry. If you can't get ground beef that's at least 95% lean, throw in some fine bread crumbs while you cook the beef - it helps absorb the moisture. Also, don't cover it while you cook it. Again, no need to trap moisture in the meat.
  • Once it's cooked, IMMEDIATELY dump it into a fine mesh sieve or strainer and let excess grease drain out. Don't let it cool or the grease can congeal and stay with the meat.
  • Then dump it onto some paper towel and use it to blot any remaining moisture/grease.
  • Put it onto a fine mesh tray in your dehydrator, set it to high and dehydrate for 10-12 hours. If it's crunchy and the nastiest thing you've put in your mouth since college, it's done.
  • Once dehydrated, I put it into a vacuum-sealed bag along with a desiccant bag, seal it, and then pop it into the fridge for added protection.
  • Finally, I wouldn't do this more than a week or so before needing to use it on trail.

On to the recipe (finally)!!


Cottage/Shepherd’s Pie


  • 4 ounces 95% lean ground beef, cooked
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tsp beef bouillon
  • 10 grams freeze-dried vegetables*
  • ½ container of dried hash browns**
  • 2 Tbsp brown gravy mix
  • ½ Tsp mushroom powder
  • ¼ Tsp garlic powder
  • 3 grams dried mushrooms, chopped
  • Dried thyme and oregano


  1. Boil 1 cup of water, add to hash brown container, seal, and set aside for 12 minutes
  2. Add 1 cup of water to pot, add mushrooms and veggies, and bring to boil slowly (or let simmer for a few minutes and then bring to a boil)
  3. Once boiling, add contents of ground beef package (see below), reduce heat to simmer, and let it thicken (3-4 minutes)
  4. Drain the water from the potatoes into the pot and add potatoes to top of ground beef
  5. Put the lid on your pot and let sit for 5 or 6 minutes to let veggies and meat continue to hydrate


  • Before leaving, combine cooked/dehydrated ground beef, thyme, oregano, flour, bouillon, mushroom powder, garlic powder, and gravy mix in a vacuum-sealed bag with a desiccant pack
  • * I use Karen’s Naturals Mixed Vegetables for the calorie count
  • ** I use Idaho Spuds brand, 4.2 oz container


Beef - 156 cal
Flour - 30 cal
Beef bouillon - 10 cal
Freeze-Dried Vegetables - 12 cal
Hash browns - 210 cal
Thyme and rosemary - N/A
Salt and pepper - 6 cal
Brown gravy mix - 40 cal

Total - 464 cal

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

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