The Best Grocery Staples for Cheap Slow Cooker Meals, According to Our Readers

published Nov 11, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Based on what we know about our loyal Kitchn readers, if we had to guess a few of your favorite things, at the top of the list would definitely be slow cookers AND saving money on groceries. Did we guess right? We thought so. In the spirit of saving money on groceries while also making delicious slow cooker meals, we polled Kitchn’s Facebook fans for their favorite grocery staples.

Here’s what came up again and again.

Stock and Broth

Making soup in a slow cooker is one of the easiest things you can do. To make said soup, you will, of course, need broth — and in this case, store-bought is just fine. Kitchn readers suggest stocking up on cartons of stock to make recipes like chicken tortilla soup, veggie stew, hamburger soup, and more.

Related: Every Single Slow Cooker Soup Recipe You Could Ever Need

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, and Celery

Countless recipes start with a combination of these four budget-friendly ingredients that help bulk up and add flavor to any dish. Pair potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery with a cheap cut of meat for a hearty stew or braise, or use a whole chicken, barley, and herbs de Provence to make chicken soup.

Related: 20 Slow-Cooker Soups, Stews, and Braises to Make When You’re Snowed In

Canned/Jarred Everything

The best thing about the slow cooker is that you can whip up a delicious dinner with straight-up pantry staples and call it a night! Our readers love to use Ro-tel, canned beans, canned corn, cream of “anything” soup, jarred pasta sauce, and salsa to make delicious pantry-heavy concoctions.

Related: 5 (Super Easy!) Slow Cooker Chilis You Can Make With Just 6 Ingredients

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Frozen Vegetables

Make low-and-slow dinner prep even easier by throwing in a few freezer favorites. Our readers especially recommend using bags of frozen veggies to make super versatile yet low-lift soups, stews, or party appetizers. Another freezer pick: frozen meatballs.

Read more: 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Honey-Garlic Meatballs

Credit: Laura Flippen/The Kitchn


Our readers gave special shoutouts to spices like chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powder, paprika, dried herbs, salt, ground peppercorns, ranch dressing mix, au jus gravy mix, dried onion soup mix (and more!). We recommend that you use ALL THE SPICES to make extra-flavorful slow cooker meals.

Related: You Need This Mississippi Pot Roast in Your Life

Credit: Jacqueline Klose

Less Expensive Cuts of Meat

The slow cooker can magically turn even the cheapest cuts of meat into a fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth situation, so don’t worry about getting the pricey stuff. Our readers recommend buying things like ground beef or turkey or a whole chicken (instead of more expensive broken-down parts), and hunting for “the cheapest pork butt [you] can find.”

Related: 31 Dump Dinner Recipes to Make Mealtime Impossibly Easy

What grocery store staples do you rely on to make inexpensive slow cooker meals?