Several years ago, when I was a young married woman, I would fix my husband spaghetti every week. I thought it was no.big.deal because I LOVED spaghetti. My husband…not so much.
He’d complain and say, “Spaghetti again?” or say he was all ready too full and then make a peanut butter and jelly on the side. Luckily for him, I didn’t take it too personally because I could see his point. But I didn’t know what else to do. Money was tight and I wasn’t sure what else to serve him that was both easy AND affordable.
Fast forward twenty years…and plenty of experimentation and I’ve found that I can make a lot of other foods with ground beef that aren’t much harder than spaghetti and still satisfy the diversity that my husband craves at meal time.
These 20 ground beef recipes have saved our dinner time! While we do still occasionally eat spaghetti, we love each of these recipes equally as much. Plus, there’s an added bonus! We save time AND we save money by using them because we use the SLOW COOKER.
How We Save Time by Cooking in the Slow Cooker
- We utilize Crockpot Freezer Meals by doing all of the preparation and assembly work all at once. Typically, I do this on a Saturday or Sunday and prepare a week at a time. It only takes an hour or two at the most and it eliminates a lot of cooking time on my part. I do the chopping of all my veggies, precooking of any ground beef or other meats, all at once.
- By quickly dumping my meal into the slow cooker, in the morning or early afternoon, I don’t have to spend that 30 minutes to an hour preparing the evening meal. I’m always impressed with the amount of extra time I have in the evening, when I have cooked my meal in the slow cooker.
How We Save Money By Cooking in the Slow Cooker
- We buy cheap cuts of meat, such as ground beef and chicken.
- We don’t eat out nearly as often, because we have a delicious home cooked meal ready for us.
- When I know I’m going to have a ground beef Crockpot Freezer Meals cooking session, I can buy my ground beef in bulk. I do that by buying a side of beef from a local farmer or by purchasing a case at Sam’s club, in the meat market.
The Best Slow Cooker for Your Family
Of course, having the best slow cooker for your family will be worth it’s weight in gold! Here’s a general guideline you can go by:
- 1.5 – 2.5 quart slow cookers are great for singles or couples. You will likely not fit leftovers in this size though.
- 3.5 – 4 quart slow cookers will feed 2 to 4
- 5 or 6 quart slow cookers are will feed 4 to 6
- 7 quart and up are perfect for large families or people who cook a lot for large get togethers.
For most of my recipes here on this site, I would probably suggest using at least a 6 quart slow cooker. If I were to pick one out for your family, I would first suggest the Instant Pot because it has so many other features that you can take advantage of, like pressure cooking, steaming and more! It’s generic name is actually a multi-cooker, but… slow cooking is one of its many great options. This particular model is a 6 quart model, so it would be plenty big enough for all of my recipes.
OR if you need a more economical solution, I would suggest a digital programmable slow cooker with a locking lid like this 6 quart version:
It is relatively inexpensive, even though it has all of these great features. Of course, there’s some other really good options as well. If you want a little more help picking out the best slow cooker for your family, be sure to check out my post where we dive a little deeper into sizes, colors, features and more. They have some really cool colors out there these days. I am in love with this blue one:
Tips for Slow Cooking with Ground Beef
One of the most common questions I get, when we talk about cooking with ground beef is if you can just put it in the slow cooker with the rest of the food, without pre-cooking it. That is a great question! Read my tips below to decide what you think:
- You always want to precook it, if it will be mixed into something, and drain (and possibly even rinse)the grease. For example, if you’re following my Freezer to Slow Cooker plan, you don’t want to precook a meatloaf, but you DO want to precook the ground beef if it will be in lasagna or soups.
- Don’t let ground beef cook for long periods of time in it’s own grease. Otherwise, it will end up taking on a weird, greasy after-taste, even after the grease has been drained.
- When cooking in a slow cooker, it’s a good idea to use a lower fat ground beef. That way if any grease did not get drained off, your dish won’t end up a greasy pot of ick.
OK, so obviously I have a problem with grease. Once, I tried cooking my ground beef in bulk in my slow cooker. You know, so I wouldn’t have to slave over the stove, stirring the meat. I found that it did not do well. It had a weird greasy aftertaste, and some of the meat was still red even though it was fully cooked. After that, I’ve always precooked it.
These are the tools I use to get several pounds of ground beef cooked in one session.
My Large Cast Iron Skillet – I seriously love this thing! It is perfect for cooking 3-4 pounds of ground beef in it at a time.
I use my Stainless Steel Spatula to regularly stir the meat and break it apart, so that there aren’t very many large clumps.
Then, I will use my Easy Greasy™ Colander to drain and catch the grease, and then follow that up by rinsing the grease with water. This makes my meal lower in bad fats and much healthier for my family!
20 Hamburger Recipes for your Slow Cooker
OK, so now, let’s talk about the recipes!
If you get the free ebook, you will always have the recipes on hand instead of trying to find my site, remember the recipe, remember the ingredients, etc. (Because we all know when you have time to cook, you don’t have another 30 minutes to find the recipe on the website.)
To start out, I wanted to share one recipe, that’s not in the ebook, because it’s awesome! After that, the next 20 recipes are in the ebook, or you can access them here.
- Mexican Casserole
- Beef Stroganoff
- Slow Cooker Pizza
- Taco Soup
- Tater Tot Casserole
- Pasta Fagiola
- Meat Loaf
- Easy Slow Cooker Chili
- Sweet & Sour Meatballs
- Sloppy Joes
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Crockpot Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup (ground beef version)
- Easy Crockpot Meatballs (Spaghetti & Meatballs)
- Hearty Western Casserole
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Pizza Burgers
- Cheeseburger Soup
- Hobo Packets
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