This is a very simple recipe for days when you really need some kind of warm comfort, but you’re absolutely flat broke and a bit….spent. It can be customised to use whatever you have in the cupboard; I happened to have tofu in at the time of testing this one, which you can see in the photo, and it wasn’t my fave iteration if I’m honest. Any cooked meat or a can of beans or a pile of mushrooms will do. A pie is a pie is a pie, at the end of the day.

I am rather fastidious about the use of the term ‘pie’; it needs to have walls, a base and a lid in order to qualify, but if you are in a hurry, or less pernickety, a casserole-with-a-hat will just about pass muster.

Making your own pastry is simple, you can dip a toe in with this for 75p/450g, or pick up a bag of flour for 45p/1.5kg and find a good recipe to make your own. But I shan’t pretend I do it every time, because good pastry crusts are short, but life is even shorter.

(I’m currently trialling a partnership program with the budget supermarkets that I shop in for my recipes. If you click the links in the recipes I may earn a small commission, but don’t just click for the sake of it as they’re wise to that! As ever, I don’t promote anything I don’t genuinely use and love myself, but if you do online shopping, you might want to check out my recommendations)

Serves 6 from 32p per portion

400g shortcrust pastry approx, 88p (£1.10/500g)

300g mixed frozen veg, 24p (92p/1.16kg)

100g chopped onion, 20p (£1/500g)

400g tin of white beans, or cooked meat, or whatever, from 40p (40p/400g)

400ml gravy, 3p (20p/200g)

1 egg or a little milk, to glaze, optional, 15p

First make your filling, and very simple it is too. Pop the onion and veg into a saucepan, and add 4 tbsp of gravy granules. Drain and rinse the beans, or add the meat/mushrooms/whatever you decide to use. Pour over around 350ml water, and gently warm on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, stirring, until the veg starts to defrost and the gravy thickens. Set to one side for a moment.

Lightly grease a loaf tin, pie dish, or other suitable implement, and lightly dust your worktop with flour. Roll out the pastry until it is a few mm thick, and then, in one swift but supportive movement, pick it up and transfer it to the pie tin, making sure it generously overlaps the edges. Gently press it into the seams and corners, if there are any, taking care not to tear it. This can be awkward, so if you aren’t particularly confident about it, you can use the ready-rolled stuff instead, which holds its own marvellously for the novice cook.

When the dish is lined, carefully cut away the excess pastry from the edges and press into a ball. You will use this to make the lid in a moment.

Gently spoon the filling into the pie, one spoon at a time. It is tempting to simply dump the lot into the pan, but the sheer force of almost a kilo of veg and beans and gravy may rip your pastry to shreds, so take your time with it, easing it in, until the pie is filled to the very top.

Roll out the remaining pastry, then place it carefully on top. Trim away the edges (you can make these into miniature pies in a muffin tin, or little tartlets with a dollop of jam). Seal the edges together by gently pressing a fork around them.

If using an egg, beat it and brush it over the top. If you don’t have one, a little milk (ordinary or plant based) shaken with a little oil, will give the same glazed effect.

Pop it in the oven at 180C for 45 minutes, or until golden. It’s pretty simple, but, it’s unmistakeably a pie.

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