Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew


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Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew is made from scratch with ground beef to save money. A very hearty meal with minimal effort or money. This budget friendly ground beef stew can’t be beaten.

We love easy stew recipes like this one, Shipwreck Stew or A-1 Beef Stew, for an easy, hearty dinner.

cooked poor man's stew in a crockpot.
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When I first published this recipe in 2015, I made this entire Poor Man’s Stew for $6.24. Nowadays, the price of groceries is much higher than that. But you can still make an economical meal using fresh vegetables and ground beef.

I put ground beef, russet potatoes, carrots, onions, a garlic clove, tomato paste, water, and seasonings in my slow cooker and simmered it all day to make this Hearty Poor Man’s Stew. A great Sunday dinner recipe or for when you are even camping!

The inspiration for this hamburger stew came from my favorite old movie, The Princess Bride. I made a stew similar to the one seen in the movie where Fezzic (Andre the Giant) hand-fed Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) a hearty stew trying to get him sober, so they could find and save Westley (Carey Elwes). You may also like my Slow Cooker Camp Stew Recipe!

What makes this meal budget friendly?

ingredients for poor mans stew on a table.
  • Fresh vegetables – I bought just what I needed for this recipe though you can buy bulk bags of gold potatoes (or russet potatoes), carrots, onion, and garlic, and your price will go down per serving.
  • Look for ground beef in a roll (called a chub); it’s almost always cheaper than beef in trays. If you have leftover slow cooker ground beef, be sure to use that!
  • Dried spices are always cheaper than fresh and last for years; for other recipes, I use onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • I use water instead of beef broth in this recipe to cut the cost, though beef broth can be used if desired.
  • For the tomato flavor, a cheap can of tomato paste is used.

Step-by-Step Directions

four images of how to assemble poor man's stew in a crockpot.

Step One – Brown ground beef in a skillet on the stove-top; drain fat. Add the meat to the crock pot and the potatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic.

Step Two -Whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.

Step Three – Pour this mixture over everything in the slow cooker. Stir.

Step Four – Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the potatoes are tender. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

Cooked poor man stew in crockpot.

Variations

  • More Vegetables – Add sweet potatoes, frozen peas, and canned green beans.
  • Tomato Soup – Instead of adding tomato paste, use a condensed tomato soup for more flavor.
  • Flavor enhancers – Add Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce for a kick of flavor. You can also add a pack of taco seasoning instead of the recipe seasonings.
  • Toppings – To serve this crockpot poor mans stew, you may want to add some toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, diced onion, or crushed saltine crackers.
  • Bread – Don’t go out and buy special bread for this meal. It’s terrific with buttered sandwich bread as a side.
Side view of poor man's stew in crockpot with wooden spoon in it.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use a different kind of meat?

You can use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground sausage (basically any ground meat). Or you can use what traditional beef stew call for, which is beef stew meat.

How to store

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge, which will last a few months in the freezer.

bowl of poor man's stew.

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Side view of poor man's stew in crockpot with wooden spoon in it.

Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew Recipe

4.43 from 56 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 5
A delicious stew made from scratch with ground beef instead of stew meat to save money!

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 ½ lbs russet or gold potatoes, peeled and diced large
  • 3 carrots, sliced thick
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning, (or oregano)

Instructions 

  • Add the cooked ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic to a 5-quart or larger slow cooker.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Pour this mixture over everything in the slow cooker. Stir.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours, without opening the lid during the cooking time.
  • Serve with buttered sandwich bread or rolls and Enjoy!

How to Video

Sarah’s Notes

  • You can use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground sausage (basically any ground meat). Or you can use what traditional beef stew call for, which is beef stew meat.
  • If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge, which will last a few months in the freezer.
Variations
  • More Vegetables – Add sweet potatoes, frozen peas, and canned green beans.
  • Tomato Soup – Instead of adding tomato paste, use a condensed tomato soup for more flavor.
  • Flavor enhancers – Add Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce for a kick of flavor. You can also add a pack of taco seasoning instead of the recipe seasonings.
  • Toppings – To serve this crockpot poor mans stew, you may want to add some toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, diced onion, or crushed saltine crackers.

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 756mg | Potassium: 1369mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 6650IU | Vitamin C: 27.1mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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415 Comments

  1. Stazya says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’m lazy, so I use canned vegetables. I double the salt, because my husband and I prefer it with more, and I do add about a tbsp Worcester sauce. Sometimes I’ll cook up some pearl couscous or acini de pepe pasta to add as well. As it is, though, it’s great too. That makes it an excellent staple because I can switch it up occasionally!

  2. Sherri says:

    Can you cook this on the stove top? it sounds and looks good but I hate my crook pot haha

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      I am sure you can, you would need to add additional liquid though.