Frugal Family: Save Time with These Slow Cooker Recipes

Sometimes there isn’t enough time to prepare a meal. Here are five slow cooker recipes, including taco soup, breakfast casserole, bbq pulled pork, vegetarian cheesy tortellini and hot caramel apples, that take little time to prepare.

Trying to prepare healthy meals on a hectic schedule can be a serious challenge for the best of cooks. Too often, a trip to the nearest fast food place is a quick solution to a time crunch. It’s time to learn the joy of slow cooker meals.

You probably associate a slow cooker meal with something like pot roast. Forget that. There are all kinds of tasty dishes that can be whipped up in a slow cooker.

This week Frugal Family presents five great dishes that take hours to cook, but very little time on your part. From breakfast through dessert, we have you covered. There’s even a great vegetarian cheese tortellini that meat-eaters will love. Leftovers may be put in freezer bags and saved for another meal.

1) Taco Soup

This is a fabulous Mexican meal your family will ask for again and again. It’s SO easy—basically it’s just tossing some canned ingredients into a pot and leaving it to work its magic.


  • 1 16 oz can Pinto beans
  • 1 16 oz can white beans or kidney beans
  • 1 11 oz can niblet corn
  • 1 11oz can Rotel tomatoes and chilies
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 1 ¼ oz envelope taco seasoning mix
  • 1 lb. shredded chicken, ground beef or your choice of meat


1. Cook meat and drain (You can also buy precooked meat at the grocery store).

2. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir. (DO NOT DRAIN CANS)

3. Cook on low for 4 hours. Keep on low until serving time.

4. Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions and tortilla chips.

Serves 4-6.

2) Breakfast Casserole

Are your family’s mornings a rush? Try this delicious casserole prepared the night before. While you sleep, it’s cooking. When you wake up, it’s done.


  •  1 dozen eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package (32 oz.) of frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1 lb of bacon, sausage or leftover ham, browned and drained
  • 1/2 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3/4 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Layer in this order: hash browns, bacon (or other meat), onions, green pepper and cheese in the slow cooker.

2. Make sure cheese is last layer.

3. Beat the eggs, milk and mustard, salt and pepper together.

4. Pour over the whole mixture.

5. Cook with 6 quart slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours or until eggs are set and thoroughly cooked.

Serves 4-6.

3) BBQ Pulled Pork for Sandwiches:

This recipe is simple, hearty and perfect on a cold night.


  • 3 -4 lb pork roast or boneless pork ribs
  • 2 onions, one sliced, one chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 16 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Salt and pepper


1. Slice one onion and place on bottom of slow cooker.

2. Season pork with salt, pepper and garlic powder and place on top of sliced onion.

3. Cook 8-10 hours on low temperature.

4. Remove meat from slow cooker and pull apart with fork or fingers. 5. Pour cooking liquid from cooker.

6. Put pulled pork back in slow cooker. Mix with chopped onion and BBQ sauce.

7. Cook on high for one hour or until onions are soft.

8. Serve with choice of buns and fries or chips.

Serves 6-8. 

4) Vegetarian Cheesy Tortellini 

This dish can be assembled in less than five minutes. The most important thing to remember when assembling is that ingredients specified to be frozen MUST be frozen when going into the slow cooker. Otherwise, the pasta will fall apart and the dish will scorch. In other words, just follow the directions!

You may halve the recipe and make it in a 2 1/2 - 3 quart crock.  The full recipe fits in a large or medium size crock. 


  • 9 oz bag cheese tortellini, frozen
  • 12 oz bag Morningstar Starters Griller Meat Crumbles, frozen one cup bagged onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded, divided
  • 2  28-32 oz jars Marinara sauce


1. Spray crock with no stick spray. 

2. Place all ingredients except for 1/2 the cheese into the crock and stir to mix evenly.

3. Top with remaining cheese.

4. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 3 hours.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Slow Cooker.

5) Hot Caramel Apples

This is a perfect Fall desert.


  • 4 large tart apples, cored
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 12 red-hot candies
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 8 Werther's Original Chewy Caramels
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Whipped cream, optional


1. Peel about 3/4 inch off the top of each apple; place in a 3-qt. slow cooker.

2. Pour juice over apples.

3. Fill the center of each apple with 2 tablespoons of sugar or Splenda, three red-hots, 1 tablespoon butter and two caramels.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

5. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the apples are tender.

6. Serve immediately with whipped cream if desired. 

Serves 4.

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.

Need To Know:

Many of your oven or stove-top recipes may be cooked in a slow cooker. Here’s how to convert the time:

Stovetop/Oven            Crockpot

                                      HIGH TEMP             LOW TEMP

15-30 minutes    >         1 1/2-2 1/2 hours      4 - 8 hours

35-35 minutes    >         3 - 4 hours                6 - 10 hours

50 minutes-3 hours   >  4 - 6 hours                8 - 16 hours


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