Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew Recipe


In the realm of comfort food, the Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew stands out as a testament to the ingenuity of home cooks striving to create nourishing, flavorful meals without straining their budgets. This stew, which has gained popularity for its simplicity and cost-effectiveness, is a perfect example of how minimal ingredients can be transformed into a hearty meal that satisfies the soul as well as the stomach.


The essence of Poor Man’s Stew lies in its ability to make the most of inexpensive and readily available ingredients. Traditionally, it includes ground beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions, all slow-cooked to perfection. The “poor man” aspect refers not to the quality of the dish but to its frugality, making it an ideal choice for families looking to stretch their grocery dollars. Its popularity has soared not just for its affordability but also for the ease with which it can be prepared, making it a beloved recipe among those with busy schedules or limited cooking experience.

Ingredients and Budget Tips

Creating a delicious Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew doesn’t require a trip to a specialty grocery store or the purchase of high-end ingredients. Here’s a breakdown of the essentials and how to select them without breaking the bank:

  • Ground Beef: Opt for lean ground beef for a healthier option, or purchase in bulk and freeze what you don’t use. Ground beef is the protein base of the stew and provides rich flavor.
  • Potatoes: Russet or gold potatoes are both excellent choices for their texture and ability to absorb flavors. Buy in bulk and store in a cool, dark place to maximize shelf life.
  • Carrots and Onions: These vegetables add sweetness and depth to the stew. Look for sales or buy in bulk, as both carrots and onions have a long shelf life when stored properly.
  • Tomato Paste: A small can of tomato paste can add a rich, concentrated tomato flavor. It’s often cheaper than other tomato products but goes a long way in recipes.
  • Seasonings: Salt, pepper, onion powder, and Italian seasoning are staples that you likely already have in your pantry. Buying spices in bulk or from discount stores can save money over time.

Budget Tips:

  • Buy in Bulk: Purchasing ingredients in bulk can save money, especially for non-perishable items like spices and tomato paste.
  • Seasonal Shopping: Buy vegetables like carrots and onions in season when they are cheapest and freshest.
  • Sales and Coupons: Keep an eye out for sales on meat and vegetables, and don’t hesitate to use coupons.
  • Substitutions: Feel free to substitute more expensive ingredients with what you have on hand. For example, if you have leftover vegetables from another meal, throw them in the stew.

By following these tips and being mindful of sales and seasonal availability, you can prepare Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew at a low cost without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Creating a Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew is a straightforward process that yields delicious results with minimal effort. Here’s how to bring this comforting dish to your table:

  1. Brown the Ground Beef: Start by browning the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. This step is crucial for adding depth of flavor to the stew. Once browned, drain any excess fat to keep the dish healthier.
  2. Prepare the Vegetables: Peel and dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Slice the carrots into thick rounds, and finely chop the onion. These vegetables will add texture and nutrients to your stew.
  3. Combine Ingredients in Slow Cooker: Transfer the browned ground beef to your slow cooker. Add the prepared potatoes, carrots, and onions. Minced garlic can also be included at this stage for additional flavor.
  4. Mix the Sauce: In a separate bowl, whisk together tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, and Italian seasoning until well combined. This mixture will form the flavorful base of your stew.
  5. Cook the Stew: Pour the sauce mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker, ensuring everything is evenly coated. Stir gently to combine. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 7-8 hours. The slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld beautifully and the vegetables to become tender.
  6. Serve and Enjoy: Once the stew is cooked, give it a good stir and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot, with a side of crusty bread or over a bed of rice for a complete meal.

Slow Cooker Tips:

  • Avoid lifting the lid during the cooking process, as this can release heat and extend the cooking time.
  • If your stew is too liquidy, remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
  • For an even richer flavor, consider adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce or a beef bouillon cube to the sauce mixture.

Nutritional Information

Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew is not only budget-friendly but also a nutritious meal option. It’s packed with protein from the ground beef, providing the essential amino acids needed for muscle repair and growth. The potatoes and carrots contribute valuable fiber, aiding in digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness. Additionally, these vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals; carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which supports eye health, while potatoes provide vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins.


Including this stew in your diet can offer several benefits:

  • Heart Health: Lean ground beef and the high fiber content from the vegetables can support heart health.
  • Weight Management: The high protein and fiber content can help in weight management by keeping you fuller for longer.
  • Immune Support: Vitamins A and C are crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system.

Overall, Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew is a comforting meal that can fit into a balanced diet, offering both nutritional benefits and satisfaction.

Variations and Substitutions

Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew is incredibly versatile, allowing for numerous variations and substitutions to accommodate dietary restrictions or personal preferences:

  • Meat Substitutions: For a leaner option, substitute ground beef with ground turkey or chicken. For a vegetarian version, lentils or a meat substitute can provide protein without sacrificing texture.
  • Vegetable Variations: Feel free to add sweet potatoes for a hint of sweetness or incorporate frozen peas and canned green beans in the last hour of cooking for additional color and nutrients.
  • Gluten-Free Adaptations: Ensure that any added sauces or seasonings are gluten-free. This stew is naturally gluten-free, but always double-check labels.
  • Flavor Enhancements: Boost the stew’s flavor with Worcestershire sauce, a splash of red wine, or a beef bouillon cube. For a different taste profile, add a pack of taco seasoning or a few dashes of hot sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Poor Man’s Stew hot, directly from the slow cooker. It pairs wonderfully with crusty bread or rolls for dipping and soaking up the flavorful sauce. For a more substantial meal, serve it over a bed of cooked rice or alongside a simple green salad to add freshness and balance to the hearty stew. These simple sides complement the stew’s richness and make for a satisfying meal.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Leftover Poor Man’s Stew stores well and can even taste better the next day as the flavors continue to meld. Follow these tips for storage and reheating:

  • Storage: Cool the stew completely before transferring it to airtight containers. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Thaw frozen stew in the refrigerator overnight if necessary. Reheat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. If the stew is too thick, add a little water or broth to reach the desired consistency.


  • Can I use a different kind of meat? Yes, ground turkey, chicken, or even diced beef stew meat can be used as alternatives to ground beef. Adjust cooking times accordingly if using a tougher cut of meat.
  • How can I make the stew more flavorful? Enhance the stew’s flavor by browning the meat with a bit of tomato paste before adding it to the slow cooker. Adding a beef bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce, or a splash of red wine can also deepen the flavor profile.
  • Is it possible to make this stew vegetarian? Absolutely. Replace the ground beef with lentils, chickpeas, or a plant-based meat substitute. Use vegetable broth instead of water for cooking, and add more variety of vegetables to maintain the stew’s hearty nature.

Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew is more than just a meal; it’s a budget-friendly, nutritious, and delicious solution for anyone looking to feed their family or themselves without stress or strain. With a little preparation and a slow cooker, you can enjoy this comforting stew any night of the week. For those looking to keep their slow cooker in top condition, Good Housekeeping offers excellent tips on slow cooker maintenance and care.

Slow Cooker Poor Man's Stew Recipe

This Slow Cooker Poor Man's Stew is a budget-friendly, hearty meal that's perfect for busy weeknights. Made with simple, cost-effective ingredients, it's a nutritious dish that doesn't skimp on flavor. Ideal for families looking to stretch their grocery budget without sacrificing quality or taste.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Serves
Calories 297 kcal


  • Slow Cooker (5-quart or larger)
  • Skillet
  • Mixing bowl


  • 1 lb ground beef browned and drained
  • 1.5 lbs russet potatoes peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots sliced thick
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning


  • Brown the Beef: In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Drain any excess fat and transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Prepare the Vegetables: Peel and dice the potatoes, slice the carrots, and dice the onion. Add these to the slow cooker along with the minced garlic.
  • Make the Sauce: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, and Italian seasoning until well combined.
  • Combine and Cook: Pour the sauce mixture over the beef and vegetables in the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Serve: Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve hot.


  • Variations: Feel free to add other vegetables like sweet potatoes, peas, or green beans. For a vegetarian version, substitute the ground beef with lentils or a plant-based meat substitute.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.
  • Enhancing Flavor: For a richer flavor, consider adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce or a beef bouillon cube to the sauce mixture.
Keyword Budget Meal, Easy Dinner Recipe, Ground Beef, Hearty Stew, Poor Man's Stew, Slow Cooker, Vegetables