Budget slow cooker dinner recipes are my whole mood right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m short on time with the holidays here, not to mention all those holiday gifts taking a healthy bite out of my budget. So for this week’s meal plan, I planned out family-friendly slow cooker dinners all under $10, to help keep pus on budget.
Please note that I calculated these recipes based on serving a family of four, at the current prices at my local grocery. (I’m outside of Nashville, TN.)
Also, some of these recipes were written to yield 8 or more servings, so they can be halved (or even cut in thirds) to feed a family of four.
Or, even better: make the full recipe and save leftovers for lunches, or freeze half for later. You know, when you really really don’t feel like cooking.
1. Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken: $6.26 for 4 servings
Lately I’ve been so tired by dinnertime (hello, pitch black sky outside!), that I break down and order takeout Chinese food. But this Kung Pao Chicken recipe from Platings and Pairings looks delicious for far less cash. She recommends you use either chicken breasts or the less expensive thighs, and I always find you can stretch chicken in meals like this by mixing veggies in.
If you want to splurge, grab some egg rolls from your local restaurant — or even frozen ones from the grocery- — to serve with the homemade dinner. Grand total price: $6.26 for 4 servings, using chicken thighs. Brand-name chicken thighs are currently $2.19/lb at my grocery.
2. Slow Cooker Dal Makhani : $5.16 for 4 servings
Richa, who writes the wonderful My Food Story, describes how using a slow cooker for this Dal Makhani recipe makes so much sense, seeing as traditional dal makhani cooks all night over an open fire too. She swears her recipe is just as good as what you’d order at your favorite Indian restaurant, and serving it with rice and naan makes it a super-affordable Meatless Monday meal that’s a cinch to whip up. Grand total price: Four servings cost me a whopping $5.16 for the dal, using canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh. Plenty of budget left over for the rice and naan.
3. Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken: $6.20 for 4 servings
This Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken recipe at Immaculate Bites is another terrific slow cooker recipe under $10. It calls for several basic spices and staples, all of which I happen to have in my own limited pantry, and she suggests using the more affordable chicken thighs for the most flavor. It is bursting with Caribbean flavors, and I’d absolutely double this recipe so I have leftover pulled chicken for salads or wraps, to serve for lunch later in the week. Grand total price: If each person eats 1 piece of chicken, this will run me $6.20 for four servings…but odds are you have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.
4. Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna: Just under $10 for 4 servings
You can save some money on dinner by serving up Vegetarian Lasagna with this recipe from Kitchen Skip, instead of a meat-lovers version. This one uses frozen spinach and mushrooms, but you could use whatever veggies your kids love. Layering the cheese, sauce and pasta in the slow cooker is so much easier than preparing lasagna it the traditional way with boiled noodles. In fact, making lasagna in the slow cooker is one of my favorite slow cooker cooking hacks. Grand total price: If you include the optional creme fraiche in this recipe, the total will run you $12. Omitting it completely brings you in under budget and tastes just fine. Note that I budgeted in the recommended frozen spinach, but fresh spinach is about 20% of the cost at my grocery.
5. Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup: $4.61 for 4 servings
This immune-boosting, winter-warming Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup recipe at Budget Bytes is so affordable, if your’e trying to stick with under $10 recipes, you can whip up some grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas on the side. Not bad — especially considering my kids love little more much than grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup for dinner. And I love an affordable slow cooker meal that makes everyone happy. Grand total cost: Beth shares a to-the-penny cost of $9.22 for 8 servings of soup, which brings this recipe in under $5 for a family of four. Incredible!