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5 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

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When time is of limited supply or money is running tight, there is nothing worse than figuring out what is for dinner. It’s a huge issue around my house, especially with a new baby in tow and both my husband and I working on side gigs for extra cash. That’s why we turn to one magical, miracle invention: our slow cooker.

5 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

5 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

Basically, a slow cooker is a pot that heats up over an extended period of time (usually between 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours). It’s perfect for turning on before leaving for work and coming home to a home smelling like you just whipped up a homemade dish on the stove. But the best part of the slow cooker besides the super low time investment is how much money it can save you. Because many slow cooker recipes are actually entire meals fit to feed a family of 4+, not only will you walk away with leftovers, but also save a ton on your grocery bills in the long run. The following five are some of my personal favorites for cheap* and easy slow cooker recipes anyone can make in under 10 minutes.

[Editor's Note: My favorite slow cooker is this Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker. You can set it to cook to temperature with a meat probe. It takes the guesswork out of cooking a whole chicken or roast.]

*All estimated costs are based on current Chicago, IL grocery prices and are subject to change.

5 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Save You Hundreds in Grocery Bills

Tex-Mex Chicken:

I’m a lover of all things Tex-Mex, and this recipe hits the spot! I love to serve it with cheap tortilla shells for tacos or chips to dip in.

Total Estimated Cost: $1.83/serving

Yields: 8

Time to Prep:5-10 minutes

Cook: 6-8 hours depending on slow cooker settings

Ingredients:

  • 2.5lbs chicken (bone and skinless) thighs
  • 1 cup favorite salsa
  • Taco seasoning packet
  • 1, 6.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1, 6.5oz can corn kernels (or any other of your favorite veggie to add to a Tex-Mex recipe)
  • 1 small onion sliced thinly
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 dollops sour cream

Directions:

Put chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker and then season with taco seasoning. Add corn, tomatoes, and onion and cover in salsa. Pour ½ cup of water on top and set slow cooker. When chicken is done (or when you return home from work), stir in sour cream and let set for extra 20-30 minutes on “warm” setting.

Vegetarian Chilli

‘Tis the season for chilli! But instead of slaving over a hot pot, break out your big slow cooker and try out this recipe. It takes a bit more prep time, but the results are always worth it.

Total Estimated Cost: $1.67/serving

Yields: 8-10

Time to Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 6-8 hours depending on slow cooker settings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper diced
  • 2 tbsp of chili powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1, 29 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3, 15 oz cans of kidney beans rinsed and drained

Directions:

In a pan, turn on heat to medium and add oil and veggies. Saute until onion turns clear (around 4-6 minutes). Add in the garlic and seasoning and stir constantly for another 2-3 minutes. Pour seasoned veggies in slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

Slow Cooked Oatmeal

Who said the slow cooker only had to be used for dinner? If your breakfast time always feels rushed, try preparing your most important meal the night before.

Total Estimated Cost: $1.05/serving

Yields: 6

Time to Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 8-10 hours depending on slow cooker settings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of honey
  • 2 apples diced
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup apple juice (or save more money by replacing with water)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on lowest setting for max time. For variety, substitute other seasonal fruits, nuts, and spices to your taste.

Cheesy Potato Soup

Slow cookers are best known for making delicious and fresh homemade soup, so why not put it to the test by trying this amazingly decadent and child-friendly recipe!

Total Estimated Cost: $1.25/serving

Yields: 8

Time to Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 6-8 hours depending on slow cooker settings

Ingredients:

  • 1, 32 oz bag of frozen hash browns potatoes (thawed)
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 28 oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 bag shredded cheese
  • Bacon bits and green onions optional

Directions:

In slow cooker, place potatoes, onion, celery, broth, and water and cook for 6-8 hours. When finished, make a separate bowl of the flour, milk, and cheese. Mix together and add to potatoes and soup. Place setting on high and cook for another hour or until cheese is fully melted. Add bacon bits and green onions to the second mix, if preferred.

Creamy Beef With Mushrooms and Noodles

Perfect for colder nights, this recipe is so simple, anyone can do it. It will remind you of beef stroganoff without being too heavy.

Total Estimated Cost: $2.09/serving

Yields: 4

Time to Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 6-8 hours depending on slow cooker settings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 can generic brand cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 packet of egg noodles

Directions:

Add uncooked meat and mushrooms to bottom of slow cooker. Then and water to soup and soup mix and stir. Pour the soup blend into the slow cooker over the meat and mushrooms and set for 6-8 hours. When nearly done, cook egg noodles as directed and serve as a side.

Michelle is a 20-something new mom, dog lover, and freelance writer/solopreneur living in Chicago. She's currently fighting back to get in the black while learning how to make great financial decisions for the future. You can find her personal debt story at fitnpoor.com and her site for parents wanting to raise money-smart children at everylittlecent.com

Last updated on October 28, 2015.

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3 Responses to “5 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes”

  1. Terri says:

    I can’t wait to try the cheesy potato soup and the creamy beef & mushrooms. I love crock pot meals because they’re usually so easy and if I start the slow cooker before I leave for work the house smells wonderful when I get home. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’ve been making something close to the creamy beef & mushrooms myself for a year and it’s really good. I found that cube steak works well.

      I need to try the cheesy potato soup, but I do wonder if it works with real potatoes. Maybe if I dice them up small enough it does.

    • Terri says:

      The cube steak sounds good — sometimes stew meat stays tough or gets stringy but the flavor it adds to a recipe is really tasty. I like the idea of the frozen potatoes because it saves me the time of peeling and dicing fresh ones but the fresh potatoes probably add a little thickness to the soup.

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