Tag Archives: cheap eating

Cheap Eats: The One Pot Meal Revisited

My mother recently gave us a crock pot. Occasionally, she hits it out of the park when it comes to stuff I need but won’t buy for myself. I’ve talked about one pot meals in the past, but this particular gift makes it so incredibly easy to cook them.

Crock pots are awesome for cooking soups, stews, and variations on chili. When I first got this gift, I used it for five days in a row, making all of those with varying ndegrees of success. The best recipes were the chili and the spanish bean soup, so I’m including the recipes here.

What I love is how easy the crock pot is to use. You literally throw all of the stuff into the pot before you go to sleep and wake up to whatever you’ve made, cooked and ready to go. This was a serious selling point for me – it’s incredibly simple to blow the diet first thing in the morning from the convenience of the ‘bad’ foods.

One Pot Meal: Chili

2 pounds hamburger – $6
1 medium sized onion – $.50
4 cans kidney beans – $2.40
1 can tomatoes, okra, corn mix – $1.00
1 can diced tomatoes – $1.20
2 small cans tomato sauce – $.75
Chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper – $.25 — Total: $12.10

It works better when you brown the hamburger with the onion before you toss it into the pot. That way, you can get some of the delicious flavors of the meat infused with the onion. You don’t necessarily have to play it this way, though, because my pot came out really really nice.

Makes (at least) 6 servings. Price per serving $2.02

One Pot Meal: Spanish Bean Soup

2 rolls chorizo (these looked like the smoked sausage packaging) – $4
4 cans chick peas – $2.40
1 medium onion – $.50
1/2 head cabbage – $.50
Water to cover everything
garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste – $.25 — Total: %7.65

The spices are all brought out in the chorizo, so you don’t really have to do anything other than let it cook. The nuttiness will come out in the chick peas (garbanzo beans) and infuse the whole dish. To me, this stuff replaces chicken soup as the elixir which cures all of your ailments.

Makes (at least) 6 servings. Price per serving $1.28

When you set the crock pot up, you’re not immediately committed to a meal the rest o your life like you are when you’re making a big pot of something. It’s only 5 quarts of stuff, so if you mess it up, you’re not out the entire budget. I have messed up on chicken soup (it just didn’t have enough depth) and some of the other dishes were just ‘meh.’

Crock pots are pretty cheap – I’ve always equated them with the price of a decent rice steamer. I’m sure, like everything, that there’s a huge gamut of quality out there. But seriously, under $5 a meal is the way to go, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

For more recipes and information about one-pot meals:

65 Cheap Healthy One Dish Meals at Cheap Healthy Good
One Pot Warm Orzo Salad with Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins at One Hungry Mama
Crocktober: All In One Crockpot Meals at A Cowboy’s Wife