Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew


415 Comments


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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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Recipe Rating




415 Comments

  1. Tammy says:

    5 stars
    I made this before and I really enjoyed it. If you don’t like it, fine make something else. I never understand why people are so negative at times on these posts. Maybe use a little initiative and add somethings to the recipe to suit your tastes more. I add a little A1 and use fire roasted tomatoes and beef broth to mine…just like to experiment a little. Pretty good recipe to me. My family enjoyed it!

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      Hi! Tammy! Glad you enjoy this recipe. Your modifications sound great!

    2. Helen Keller says:

      Your correct add to your own taste and enjoy. ☺️

  2. Jonathan says:

    5 stars
    Yeah, the whole world has changed @Wanda… we get it.
    Point is, you/we were looking for an economical/easy stew to throw together for dinner… and here is a good intention recipe.
    – I cant find any gripes with that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the idea trying g it today with a lucky eater who has good allergies. Wish me luck.

  4. Anonymous says:

    1 star
    Too watery and quite tasteless

  5. Shaye says:

    5 stars
    We use as a base recipe and alter it based on the season and what in the garden. We like it with ground turkey (season your meat!) as healthier and cheaper too 🙂 Prefer to use beef broth which is inexpensive at Aldi. If want more seasoning, add it. Different veggies add them. Different form of tomatoes, do it. 😉

  6. RayJay says:

    5 stars
    This is now a part of our fall/winter line-up. It almost seems too simple to be delicious but it really is! I do mine in the oven for an hour at 350 and it comes out beautifully! I, too, use beef broth instead of water and add a couple of cans of drained sweet peas at the end. It’s just my husband and me but we’re happy to have oodles of leftovers! Plus we have a lot of fun with the name lol.

  7. Anonymous says:

    5 stars
    Fast and hearty

  8. Michelle says:

    I make on stove top. Use celery as well sometimes throw in a couple handfuls of cabbage. Use a quart of beef broth and diced tomatoes instead of sauce. Takes about thirty minutes. I usually thicken with a beef gravy packet at the end of cooking time.

  9. Jeffery Wilkerson says:

    I want to try using hearty vegetable soup instead of tomato paste and water. Do you think that would work?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      I think that should work. You may end up needed to add a touch of water still.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Been making this for years. I use beef broth instead of water. A can of diced tomatoes instead of paste. When cooked add a packet of beef gravy mix let it cook a bit. More like beef stew. I sometimes throw in some cabbage slaw too.

    3. Anonymous says:

      Try tomato soup. I use it all the time.

  10. Emma says:

    Im in uk cant get paste what else ca i use

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      Do you have tomato puree or concentrate, I believe that is what is similar in the uk.