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Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew Recipe: Hearty Comfort in a Bowl

One of my favorite ways to prepare a hearty meal on a budget is by making a slow cooker poor man’s stew. It’s a dish brimming with flavor despite its humble origins and simple ingredients.

Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew Recipe

Ground beef, potatoes, carrots, and canned tomatoes form the backbone of this traditional stew, which when slow-cooked, melds together into a comforting and satisfying meal. The beauty of this recipe lies in its flexibility; you can easily add various vegetables or seasonings to tailor it to your taste.

Crafting this stew is a practical option for feeding a family or preparing meals for the entire week. The slow cooker does most of the work, which allows me to focus on other tasks while the stew simmers to perfection.

It’s a time-saver, and the result is a delicious stew that tastes like it took hours of attentive cooking. The fact that it’s budget-friendly is a bonus, making it possible to serve a nutritious and filling meal without straining the wallet.

Ingredients You’ll Need

For this hearty and economic slow cooker Poor Man’s Stew, you’ll need a combination of simple ingredients that blend together to create a comforting meal. Here’s what I usually gather before I get started:


  • Ground Beef: 1 pound, browned and drained. You could also use ground turkey if you prefer.


  • Potatoes: 3-4 large Russets, peeled and cubed. You want them to hold up during the long cook time.
  • Carrots: 4 medium-sized, peeled and sliced. They add a lovely sweetness and earthiness.

Flavor Base:

  • 1 can (6 oz.) Tomato Paste
  • Seasonings: Salt, pepper, onion powder, Italian seasoning to taste. These really elevate the dish.
  • Optional: Diced onion, minced garlic for added depth.


  • Beef Broth: Up to 4 cups, depending on how thick you want the stew.
  • Water: To dilute the tomato paste and help create the sauce.

Optional Additions:

  • Worcestershire Sauce: Just a splash can add a great umami kick.
  • Herbs: Like rosemary, thyme, or a bay leaf for more complex flavors.

I like to make sure each of these ingredients are fresh and well-prepared before adding them to the slow cooker, ensuring the best possible flavor for the stew. Remember, quality ingredients make for a better dish, even a simple one like this.

How To Make Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew

When I make Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew, I start by gathering the ingredients. It’s a straightforward process and the results are always hearty and satisfying.

First, I brown the ground beef over medium heat until it’s fully cooked, making sure to drain off any excess fat. This not only enhances the flavor but also improves the overall texture of the stew.

Next, I chop up my vegetables. For this stew, I typically include:

  • Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into large pieces
  • Carrots, peeled and sliced
  • Onions, peeled and chopped
  • Garlic, minced for a flavor kick

Here’s my step-by-step process:

  1. Place the browned ground beef in the slow cooker.
  2. Add the chopped potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic.

For the stew’s liquid, I whisk together a mixture of:

  • Tomato paste and water
  • Seasonings: I keep it simple with salt, pepper, and a hint of Italian seasoning for some warmth.
  1. Pour the flavorful tomato mixture over the meat and vegetables in the slow cooker.
  2. I give everything a thorough stir to ensure the ingredients are well-coated.

I cover the slow cooker and set it to low for 7-8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours, until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded beautifully. The magic of the slow cooker is that it does all the heavy lifting, infusing the stew with flavor while I go about my day.

And there you have it, my personal approach to crafting a delicious, budget-friendly Poor Man’s Stew that never fails to please.

Tips For The Best Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew

When I make Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew, I stick to a few key tips that ensure it comes out delicious every time.

  • Brown the Beef: Always take the time to brown your ground beef before adding it to the slow cooker. It adds a depth of flavor that you don’t get from just tossing it in raw.

  • Chop Vegetables Uniformly: Ensure all your vegetables are chopped to the same size. This promotes even cooking, so every bite is perfectly tender.

  • Layer Correctly: Start with the vegetables that take the longest to cook at the bottom. Potatoes and carrots should go in first, followed by the browned meat and then your seasoning.

  • Season Well: Don’t skimp on seasonings. A balance of salt, pepper, onion powder, and a mix of Italian herbs can elevate the flavor profile.

  • Thicken If Necessary: If you prefer a thicker stew, mix in a slurry of cornstarch and water an hour before the stew is done.

  • Budget-Friendly Cuts: Remember, Poor Man’s Stew is all about being economical. Ground beef is the way to go, but you can also use other inexpensive cuts of meat—just ensure you give it enough time to become tender.

  • Rest Before Serving: Give your stew a few minutes to settle before serving. This allows the flavors to marry together and improves the overall taste.

What To Serve With Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew

When I serve up a heartwarming bowl of Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew, I like to ensure the whole meal feels complete with the right accompaniments. Here’s what I usually consider:

Bread Varieties:

  • Cornbread: A classic, especially if I make it a bit sweet to complement the savory stew.
  • Crusty Bread Rolls: Ideal for dipping and soaking up the rich flavors of the stew.


  • Mashed Potatoes: A scoop on the side can turn the meal into a more filling feast.
  • Rice: Simple white or brown rice works well to absorb the stew’s gravy.


  • Crisp Green Salad: Light vinaigrette dressing on a bed of mixed greens balances the hearty stew.
  • Coleslaw: The tanginess contrasts nicely with the rich stew.


  • Steamed Green Beans: Their fresh snap pairs nicely.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Root veggies like beetroot or parsnips offer a sweet note.

These sides not only complement the stew but also provide a varied texture and flavor balance to the meal. Here’s a quick list to reference when planning your meal:

  • Bread: Cornbread, Dinner Rolls
  • Starches: Mashed Potatoes, Rice
  • Salads: Garden Salad, Coleslaw
  • Vegetables: Green Beans, Roasted Veggies

I find these sides turn my stew into a full, satisfying dinner. They’re simple to prepare, and there’s something for everyone’s taste.

How To Store, Freeze & Reheat Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew

After cooking a hearty batch of Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew, I like to ensure it’s properly stored if there are any leftovers. I immediately transfer the stew into airtight containers. It’s best to refrigerate the stew within two hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth.

  • Room Temperature: Never.
  • Refrigerator: Up to 3-4 days.
  • Airtight Container: Essential to keep flavors intact.

I’ve found that this stew freezes exceptionally well, which makes for easy future meals. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Cool: Allow the stew to cool completely before freezing to maintain texture and flavor.
  2. Portion: Divide the stew into portion-size freezer bags or containers.
  3. Label: Write the date and contents on the bag or container.
  4. Lay Flat: If using freezer bags, I lay them flat in the freezer for space-saving.

Freeze Duration: Up to 3 months for optimal taste.

To bring back that delicious comfort of the stew, I follow these steps:

  • Refrigerated Stew:

    • Microwave: Heat in a microwave-safe container, covered, stirring occasionally, until piping hot.
    • Stovetop: Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
  • Frozen Stew:

    1. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen.
    2. Reheat as instructed for refrigerated stew, just allowing extra time.

Tip: You might need to add a little bit of water or broth while reheating if the stew seems too thick.

Remember, always ensure the stew is heated to at least 165°F or piping hot throughout before serving. Enjoy your meal just as it was when freshly made!

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