Frugal foodie: slow-cook your way to savings

woman holding casserole
Image: © Kyle Young

When a friend saw me buying a slow cooker earlier this year, she cocked an eye and told me she hadn’t even thought about slow cookers since 1978. But, as I explained to her, slow cookers are having a resurgence in popularity (even Williams-Sonoma is selling them. You can buy chef hats there, too).

Is it due to the fact that more people are cooking at home? That you can cook cheap cuts of meat that turn out great?

Since purchasing my slow cooker, I’ve had tons of fun discovering what an amazing cooking assistant it is, and my family has enjoyed consuming their weight in turkey chili. Call me Florence Henderson, but after using it once and then being able to clean it in the dishwasher, I was hooked!

I especially wanted to share my love of slow cookers with the Scrubs community, as a cooker provides easy and cheap dinner solutions that would be ideal for a busy nurse. Spend ten minutes in the morning throwing ingredients into a pot, and voilà—at the end of your shift, you come home and dinner is ready.

It will help you cut down on food costs and energy costs, too! Did you know that can use a slow cooker every day for eight hours for just 25 cents a month?! Well, at least that’s what Oprah claims.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking that everyone’s interpretation of the word “cheap” is different, so how much money can a slow cooker save you? The recipes below are for dinners that serve four people and cost less than $10. I think that’s cheap for anybody!

Main Dishes

Orange-Glazed Chicken with Carrots and Bulgur from Martha Stewart

Triple Layer Lasagna

Beef and Black Bean Chili from Martha Stewart

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (this is actually a $10 recipe that feeds 12!)

Cheap and Quick

For all you foodies out there, here are a few recipes that are definitely more refined, but still budget- and time-friendly:

Coq au Vin from Good Housekeeping

French Tarragon Chicken from Oprah

Caramel-Braised Pork from Williams-Sonoma


And for dessert, how about these from-scratch brownies that cost less than a dollar per serving?

Brownie Cake Squares


And slow cookers aren’t just for cooking dinner. You can make drinks, too! Here’s a great mulled wine recipe that allows you to stretch the amount of wine you serve and also enables you to gussy up the cheap stuff. It’s a win-win party solution, perfect for the upcoming holidays!

Mulled Wine

If you’re ready to take the slow-cooker plunge, but are unsure of what to get, here’s a helpful breakdown of different models/brands.

Bon appétit!

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