Slow Cooker Food
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Slow Cooker Food
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Oatmeal
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Hearty Oatmeal

Start the day with a super-healthy breakfast of steel-cut oats that practically makes itself. The best part? The oats and butter cost only $1. For another $1, you can add optional dried fruit. 

Recipe: Food.com

French Toast Casserole
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French Toast Casserole

Another money saver, this indulgent breakfast or brunch recipe works well for holidays or large family get-togethers. Start with a loaf of French bread for $3 and add $1.50 in eggs, and milk, butter, and seasonings that total no more than $2. The cost of the entire dish is $6.50. Need we say more?

Recipe: Recipes That Crock

BBQ Chicken
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Barbecue Chicken

Super-simple barbecue chicken is a time-saver for easy weeknight meals. The recipe calls for $6 of chicken and $4 of seasonings to simmer slowly together, infusing every bite of healthy low-fat chicken with flavor and resulting in a dinner recipe that serves four for $10.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Dal Makhani
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Dal Makhani

Great meals can also be incredibly cheap. This Indian lentil recipe is full of heart-healthy nutrition and vegetarian protein for a quick and easy meatless meal. Lentils are also one of the least expensive sources of protein. This recipe uses $1 of lentils, $3 of vegetables and spices, and $3 of canned tomatoes and beans. Basically a high-protein vegetable soup, the dish serves eight for only $7. 

Recipe: EatingWell

Bean and Barley Soup
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Bean and Barley Soup

Protein-packed and nutrient-dense beans combine with hearty barley to make a thick vegetarian stew. This recipe calls for $2 of beans and seasonings, $3 of barley and broth, and $1.50 of vegetables. The $6.50 pot of soup serves six. Need to feed a crowd? Go large and double the recipe for an easy family dinner or lunch.

Recipe: EatingWell

Kung Pao Chicken
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Kung Pao Chicken

This takeout-dish-turned-homemade-family-meal requires three steps, saving time and effort amid a busy schedule. This recipe calls for $3 of chicken, $2 of spices and seasonings, and $2 of vegetables for a $7 entree that serves six, leaving room to add vegetables, rice, or noodles on the side.

Recipe: Platings & Pairings

Split Pea Soup
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Split Pea Stew With Ham Hock

Ham hocks put big, satisfying flavor into humble ingredients such as split peas. This recipe calls for $1.50 of split peas, $2 of vegetables and spices, and $6 of ham hocks and broth. This large pot of thick and creamy soup costs $9.50 and serves eight. (Make your broth at home and cut costs even more.)

Recipe: Chowhound

Vegetarian Chili
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Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian chili is low-carb, low-fat, but satisfying. This easy recipe uses $7 of broth and canned beans, $2 of vegetables and spices, and $1.50 of toppings, totaling just $10.50, and the process couldn't be simpler.

Recipe: Oxmoor House

Bacon and Pinto Bean Stew
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Bacon and Pinto Bean Stew

Bacon and beans are an irresistible combination. This protein-laden soup uses $5 of bacon, $1 of beans, $5.50 of vegetables and seasonings, and $2 of garnishes. A boon for large families, this recipe yields a hearty pot of beans and bacon that serves 10 for $13.50. This dish will be handy when you need a budget meat, but if you end up with too much, save the extra in the freezer.

Recipe: The Food Charlatan

Chicken Tortilla Soup
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Chicken Tortilla Soup

A hearty and flavorful Mexican-inspired dish works in any season and is ready in just a few hours. Making eight servings requires $7 for vegetables and canned sauces, $1 for spices, $1 for tortillas, and $3 for chicken. The total cost: $12.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Quinoa Morning Porridge
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Quinoa Morning Porridge

Alternative grains are all the rage, and this morning porridge is made from $1.50 worth of quinoa, $2 of coconut milk, and $2 of fruit toppings and sweeteners. Using thawed frozen fruit for toppings can bring the cost even lower than $5.50. Large families can double or even triple the recipe and still remain under the $20 mark.

Recipe: iFoodreal

Turkey Chili
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Turkey Chili

Frugal turkey fans will love this simple chili recipe that uses $6 of canned tomatoes and beans, $4 of ground turkey, and $2 of spices and cooking oil to make a large batch that serves eight. The total cost is $12, which leaves plenty of room in the $20 budget for fixings like chips, rice, salad, and avocado.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Tuscan Kale Stew
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Tuscan Kale Stew

A filling stew is packed with nutrient-dense kale and beans and flavorful hot pork sausage. The recipe calls for $4 of broth, $4 of vegetables and seasonings, $4 of sausage, and $1 of beans for a $13 pot of stew that serves eight.

Recipe: Cooking Light

Stuffed Cabbage
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Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage is an old-country, comfort food classic that lends itself well to gentle slow cooking. This recipe of simple ingredients calls for $4 of meat, $2 of vegetables and seasonings, and $2 of rice and sauce to make four large servings for $8.

Recipe: Sugar Apron

Lemon Herb Chicken
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Lemon Herb Chicken

This recipe lets garlic, herb and lemon flavors infuse chicken as it cooks slowly over 8 hours, all hands-off. Gather $2.50 of vegetables and seasonings, $1.50 of butter and stock, and $6 of chicken for a $10 preparation that serves four.

Recipe: Food.com

Meatloaf
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Meatloaf

These time-saving instructions allow you to make a classic comfort food dish while out running errands or at work without sacrificing taste. Combine $9 of ground beef with $3 of supporting ingredients such as eggs and seasonings. The dish serves six for $12.

Recipe: Southern Living

Chicken Noodle Soup
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Chicken Noodle Soup

Handy when the whole family has a cold, or just needs a familiar, warming, budget meal, this chicken noodle soup recipe combines $8.50 of chicken and broth, $3 of vegetables, and $1.50 of noodles. The dish costs $13 and serves six.

Recipe: Family Fresh Meals

Barbecue Beef Stew
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Barbecue Beef Stew

Instant coffee adds extra depth of flavor to a beefy dish. This easy slow-cooker recipe for a large family meal calls for $10 of beef, $5 of vegetables, and $1 of seasonings. For just $16, this stew feeds eight.

Recipe: Food.com

Vegetable Omelet
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Veggie Omelet

Start the day on a healthy note with a time-saving breakfast. The recipe uses $1.50 in eggs and $4 worth of veggies, plus $2 of cheese and milk — a total cost of $7.50.

Recipe: Diethood

Chicken Tikka Masala
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Chicken Tikka Masala

The ultimate Indian takeout dish is an easy and inexpensive one to make at home in a slow cooker. It calls for $3 of vegetables, $1.50 of rice and seasonings, and $4 of chicken. This is a complete four-person meal for $8.50.

Recipe: Real Simple

Jerk Chicken
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Jerk Chicken

This is by no means an average family meal. Here's a combination of spices and seasonings that meld in a spicy broth for cooking chicken. Start with $4 of vegetables and spices, and $9 of chicken. Finish by caramelizing the chicken under the broiler for flavor and textural contrast. This $13 dish feeds five.

Recipe: Immaculate Bites

Shakshuka
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Shakshuka

This Middle Eastern dish can be a spice-laden breakfast or a light dinner served with bread. This recipe calls for $2 of oil and seasonings, $4 of vegetables including canned tomatoes, and $2 of eggs. The $8 dish makes four servings. To feed a crowd, you can make large versions of this recipe and still stay under the $20 price point.

Recipe: Tasting Table

Eggplant Parmesan
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Eggplant Parm Stack

Eggplant parmesan is a vegetarian favorite. Use $8 of eggplant, $3 of sauce and breading, and $5 of cheese and eggs for a dish costing $16 and serving eight.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
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Vegetable Lasagna
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Vegetable Lasagna

A classic among weeknight dinner recipes, lasagna is even more convenient with a slow cooker. This easy recipe calls for $3 of pantry-stocked pasta, $6 of cheese, and $8 of vegetables and seasonings. The veggie-loaded meal costs $17 and yields eight plentiful servings.

Recipe: EatingWell

Breakfast Egg Casserole
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Breakfast Egg Casserole

Dishes with super versatile eggs — under 25 cents each today — are among the best cheap meals feeding a big family. This breakfast casserole uses $3 of eggs, $3 of vegetables, $7 of cheese and meat, and $1 of seasonings to create eight hearty portions for $14.

Recipe: Family Fresh Meals

Beef Stew
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Beef Stew

There's little more comforting than slow-cooked beef stew. A homestyle version calls for $10 of beef, $4 of potatoes and other vegetables, $2 of seasonings, and $2 of broth. This hearty stew costing $18 to make easily serves eight.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Sloppy Joes
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Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joe night is a family favorite made even easier with a slow cooker. The filling can be made with $6 of ground beef, $6 of sausage, and $3 of vegetables and seasonings. Add $4 for buns, and the $19 spend yields eight plentiful sandwiches.

Recipe: Southern Living

Italian Wedding Soup
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Italian Wedding Soup

Loaded with vegetables and homemade meatballs, this soup is a delicious meal that saves money. This recipe calls for $4 of veggies and seasonings, $1 of pasta, $4 of beef, $1 of cheese and bread, and $4 of broth for a $14 pot of soup serving six.

Recipe: Gather for Bread

Minestrone Soup
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Pasta e Fagioli

This Italian noodle stew combines pasta with beef and beans for a nutritionally balanced meal with satisfying flavor. Relying on very simple ingredients the provide big flavor, this slow cooker version calls for $1 of pasta, $8 of ground beef, $3 of vegetables and seasonings, $2 of tomato sauce, and $5 of canned beans and broth. For the price of $19, you get a full eight servings.

Recipe: MyRecipes

Greek Chicken Ragout
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Greek Chicken and Vegetable Ragout

A flavorful chicken thighs recipe from an unusual source is part of a super-healthy Mediterranean diet packed with lean protein and zesty garden vegetables. To make, combine $6 of chicken, $7 of vegetables, $3 of seasonings and broth, and $1 of eggs. The saucy, low-carb, gluten-free dish costs $17 to make and yields six portions.

Recipe: WebMD

Thai Coconut Fish Curry
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Thai Fish Curry

Thai-inspired flavors transform a cheaper fish such as tilapia into a gourmet meal. The recipe calls for $4 of seasonings and broth including coconut milk, $3 of vegetables, and $12 of fish. The $19 dish serves eight.

Recipe: Serendipity and Spice

Smoked Chicken
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Smoked Chicken

Even coming out of a super-easy, hands-off slow cooker, this smoky chicken recipe has all the flavor of an outdoor grill. The recipe calls for an $8 roasting chicken plus $2 of spices and aromatics for a $10 meal that feeds four and will leave plenty in the budget for bread or rice and vegetables.

Recipe: RB and Mindy

Shepherd's Pie
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Shepherd's Pie

Finishing this dish in a slow cooker allows the flavors to meld into a cohesive meal of meat and potato goodness. The ingredients are $12 of ground beef, $6 of vegetables, and $2 of seasonings. The entire recipe costs $20 and serves eight.

Recipe: Recipes That Crock

Beef Ragu
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Beef Ragu

A rich combination of flavorful beef, tomatoes, and aromatics sits atop a bed of soft polenta for a warm, budget meal that works well in cold weather. The recipe calls for $15 of beef, $2.50 of vegetables and seasonings, $5 of tomatoes, and an extra $2.50 for the polenta. The $25 version serves 10, so cutting the recipe in half to save money and feed a family of four (with some left over) brings the cost down to $12.50.

Recipe: Pinch of Yum

Cajun Pork and Beans
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Cajun Pork and Beans

This low-country dish, a hearty way to start or end the day, is packed with flavorful meat and nutritious beans and is worth remembering you need a budget meal. It calls for $2 of beans, $2 of seasonings, $7 of pork, and $2 of rice. The $13 recipe yields five servings.

Recipe: Deep South Dish

Beef Taco Casserole
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Taco Casserole

Preparing this taco-flavored dish in a slow cooker makes is quick and easy. Combine $6 of ground beef, $6 of canned vegetables and seasonings, $3 of tortillas and cheese, and $1 of toppings to make a eight-serving casserole for $16.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Gourmet

Tofu Vegetable Curry
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Tofu Vegetable Curry

The warming spices in curry are healthy and tasty, and a slow cooker gives the impression you slaved over the stove for hours. Pick up $3 of tofu, $2 of coconut milk, $2 of aromatics and seasonings, and $4 of vegetables and rice — an $11 ingredient list that makes four servings.

Recipe: Hummusapien

Chicken Tacos
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Chicken Tacos

Chicken tacos can be made for a fraction of the price of takeout. A recipe using $6 of chicken, $1 of seasonings and spices, and $6 for toppings means that with $13, you can feed four hungry people easily.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Baked Ziti
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Baked Ziti

Great for big family get-togethers, cheesy baked pasta is a winning dish among even the pickiest eaters, and a true time saver. The recipe comes together with $2 of pasta, $7 of tomato sauce, $7 of cheese, and 75 cents of eggs and other seasonings. For less than $17, the pot yields six massive portions.

Recipe: Build Your Bite

Chicken Biryani
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Chicken Biryani

This homemade Indian dish is full of fragrance and taste from inexpensive spices using $1 of rice, $6 of vegetables and spices, and $2 of chicken. At $9 for three servings, doubling the recipe would bring the total cost of the dish to $18.

Recipe: Naive Cook Cooks

Spicy Noodle Soup
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Spicy Noodle Soup

This Asian-inspired noodle soup that combines fresh herbs, hot sauce, and tangy sauces calls for $5 of chicken, $5 of vegetables, seasonings, and broth, and $2 of rice noodles. The $12 pot of hot and spicy soup yields four large portions. (If cheap, easy meals are your favorite kind, check out these new twists on ramen noodles.)

Recipe: Cooking Light

Ranch Chicken
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Ranch Chicken

A flavor-packed chicken and vegetable dinner takes just a few minutes to prepare before setting the slow cooker to do the rest. The recipe calls for $6 of chicken breast, $4 of vegetables, and $5 of seasonings for a $15 dinner that feeds four.

Recipe: 12 Tomatoes

Saucy Sausage Sandwiches
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Saucy Sausage Sandwiches

Spicy sausage and vegetable heroes are a treat any night of the week and need just 5 minutes of prep time. Instructions call for $2 of vegetables, $4 of bread, $2 of sauce, and $12 of sausage. The family-size recipe makes six large hoagies for $20.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Roast Chicken
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Whole Chicken

A whole chicken is an easy and beloved way to feed a family, and this recipe will likely leave leftovers for other weekday meals. It calls for a 4-pound chicken for $8, plus $3 of vegetables and $1.50 in seasonings — just $12.50 total.

Recipe: The Little Kitchen

Meatballs
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Meatballs

This traditional Italian-American dish is even easier with a slow cooker. The recipe calls for $1.50 of vegetables and egg, $6 of ground beef, and $5 of breadcrumbs and tomato sauces. The total cost for 16 meatballs is $12.50.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Beef and Broccoli
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Beef and Broccoli

Normally a stir fry, this Chinese takeout classic is easy and cheap to prepare at home in a large family-style slow cooker batch without sacrificing taste. A minimalist crockpot recipe combines $12 of beef, $1 of broth and soy sauce, and $6 of vegetables and other seasonings. The $19 batch yields six full servings.

Recipe: Damn Delicious

Goulash
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Goulash

This Hungarian beef stew is like a hug in food form, with rich and comforting flavors that seep deep into tender chunks of slow-cooked meat. This crockpot recipe calls for $15 of beef, $4 of seasonings and broth, and $6 of vegetables. For $25, it can feed up to eight people, so making a half batch to feed a family of four brings the total to $12.50.

Recipe: A Farmgirl's Dabbles

Coq au Vin
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Coq Au Vin

This sexy dish is easy to perfect with the help of a slow cooker, fresh vegetables, and inexpensive wine. To make, gather $4 of dry red wine and broth, $8 of meat, and $4.50 of vegetables and seasonings. This $16.50 recipe serves four. 

Recipe: Delish

Pulled Pork Sandwich
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Pulled Pork

Great for weeknight meals and one of the easiest things to make in a crockpot, pulled pork is a versatile and well-liked dish for easy family meals. This sandwich calls for $10 of pork shoulder, $3 of additional seasonings and spices, and $5 for buns. The $18 yields four very hearty portions.

Recipe: Food Network Kitchens