10 Must-Try Crock Pot Meals On a Budget
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Few tools can compare to the money and time saving powers of the Crock Pot. In our household, we use our two Crock Pots several times per week, which saves us from expensive trips to Panera or calling for pizza. We have a steady rotation of Crock Pot meals that we love, and they’re even budget-friendly!
Our 10 Favorite Go-to Crock Pot Meals
In this post, we’re assembling a round-up of 10 of our favorite quick and cheap Crock Pot meals. Some of them are original recipes that my wife and I have created from scratch, and others are tried-and-true recipes created by others that we instantly loved.
1. Chicken Tacos
On extremely busy days, chicken tacos are our go-to meal because the ingredients list is very small and prep time is almost non-existent. The tacos are ready to eat when we get home from work, they’re delicious, and clean-up is a breeze!
-2 pounds chicken breasts or tenderloins
-One jar of salsa (we prefer Simply Nature Organic Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa from Aldi)
-1/4 cup water
1. Place all ingredients in the Crock Pot.
2. Cook on Low setting for 8-10 hours.
3. When cooked, shred chicken using forks.
4. Serve on tortillas with desired ingredients (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc.).
2. Crock Pot Spaghetti
When I was young, my aunt made a great spaghetti recipe – sometimes with her Crock Pot, and sometimes on the stove. This recipe from Sarah at Life Should Cost Less is just as good and is very time and budget-friendly!
Here are my favorite aspects of the recipe:
–Prep time is only 5 minutes if you’re using pre-browned ground beef
-The noodles cook in the Crock Pot
-Clean-up is a breeze
-You can change up the recipe and use a variety of noodles (bow ties, angel hair, farfalle, etc.)
-You can substitute your favorite sauce or even use homemade sauce
3. Chicken Tortilla Soup
To be 100% honest, I don’t love many soup recipes because they get pretty boring after eating them several days in a row. However, this awesome chicken tortilla soup recipe from Carla Smith never fails to keep my taste buds interested for days on end. It is a perfect mixture of bold, spicy flavors and hearty, satisfying textures.
Technically, this recipe doesn’t fall within the “Crock Pot meals” category. However, you can easily cook the chicken in advance and make the rest of the recipe using your Crock Pot.
4. Ground Beef Tacos
-2 pounds ground beef
-1/2 cup Ketchup (more or less to taste)
-3 tablespoons chili powder (more or less to taste)
-1 teaspon paprika (optional)
-1/2 teaspon Cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Crumble the uncooked ground beef in the Crock Pot
2. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours
3. Drain excess grease and return ground beef to Crock Pot
4. Add desired spices and Ketchup to the ground beef and mix thoroughly
5. Allow ground beef and sauce mixture to warm and thicken slightly (5-10 minutes)
6. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc.)
5. Game Day BBQ Meatballs
-2.5 lb bag of frozen, fully-cooked meatballs (or substitute homemade meatballs to save more money!)
-1 jar of Heinz Chili Sauce
-1 jar of generic grape jelly
-(optional) 4 drops of Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke
1. Add all ingredients to Crock Pot and cook on low, stirring occasionally
Note: This recipe is a tried and true favorite and may already be a party staple in your family. The addition of liquid smoke adds a unique depth of flavor and adds new life to this classic recipe.
6. Ridiculously Easy Pulled Pork
My wife and I are huge barbecue fanatics, and few Crock Pot meals satisfy the urge for barbecue like this simple pulled pork recipe.
-1 whole pork loin
-1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
-3 tablespoons chili powder
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 cup water
-(optional) Barbecue sauce of choice
-(optional) 4 drops of Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke
–Pretzel or ciabatta rolls
1. Place the pork loin in the Crock Pot with the fattiest side down
2. Mix the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and apply liberally to the top side of the pork loin
3. Add the water and liquid smoke to the Crock Pot, making sure to avoid rinsing the dry rub off the pork loin
4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours
5. Remove pork loin from the Crock Pot and shred using forks
6. Place shredded pork back in the Crock Pot and add your desired barbecue sauce (optional)
7. Allow sauce to warm and thicken, then serve on pretzel or ciabatta rolls
7. Boxcar Beef Stew
When my wife was younger she was obsessed with the children’s book series The Boxcar Children. Her mom created this simple Crock Pot meal to get her and her brother to eat their meat and vegetables!
-2 lbs beef stew meat
-4 large carrots, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-4 celery stalks, chopped
-4 medium potatoes, pealed and cubed
-1 can tomato juice
-1 cup water
1. Add all ingredients to the Crock Pot
2. Cook on low for 8 hours
8. Set and Forget Mac and Cheese
I seriously wish all recipes could be this easy. This simple mac and cheese recipe from Pip and Ebby is as easy as it gets – and it is delicious!
Making this recipe is simple. Follow the link above, throw all of the specified ingredients in your Crock Pot on low, stir occasionally, and serve 2-3 hours later.
Tip: You can spruce this recipe up even more by adding grilled Andouille sausage and fresh cut scallions.
9. Cuban Pork
I had never eaten Cuban pork sandwiches until we attended my niece’s first birthday party. Now I fear I may be developing a new obsession.
This recipe from Amy at Bellyfull.net is very similar to the recipe my brother-in-law used and is every bit as good. I’m seriously drooling just looking at the picture to the right.
My favorite aspect of this and other similar Crock Pot meals is versatility. You can serve this on your favorite rolls, tortillas, or over a bed of lettuce and rice.
10. Chicken Noodle Soup
This is one of our go-to Crock Pot meals simply because it is fast, easy, and doesn’t make an overbearingly high number of servings. You’ll love this chicken noodle recipe on cold winter nights.
-1 lb cooked chicken breast, shredded
-5 cups water
-4 chicken bullion cubes
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 cups egg noodles
-1/3 cup celery, chopped
-1/3 cup carrots, chopped
-2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1. Pre-cook chicken in oven, grill, or stove top; shred
2. Place all ingredients in Crock Pot
3. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally
What are your favorite Crock Pot meals? Share your recipe below in the comments!