How to Make the Best Affordable and Simple Crock Pot Meals for the Whole Family

by | Recipes

Simple crock pot meals can be easy and affordable, not to mention healthy and tasty! Find our favorite budget friendly, simple crock pot meals here to save time this school year! Bonus: they are great for the whole family!

Meal planning in the summer months just seems more challenging.  But then, when the start of school rolls around, a whole new crazy hits too!  Am I the only one?  Simple crock pot meals to the rescue!!!

I like to have a lot of flexibility so we can have some spontaneity.  And if possible, time for some extra fun and relaxation too!  Easy and simple crock pot meals are this mom’s best friend!


Who’s ready for some easy slow cooker ideas?!

While I could enjoy a delicious summer salad (find some of my favorites HERE) for my dinner, my kiddos are always famished after a day at the beach or swimming in the pool and playing outside.  And if it happens to be a rainy summer day, like we get here in Florida, they are ready for a hearty, hot meal.

Mom, over here, is ready for a simple recipe that I can get started in the morning…so it’s ready no matter what we end up doing for the day!  Simple crock pot meals for the win!

steamy carrots with seasoning on top of chicken inside the crock pot, ready to start cooking

Simple Crock Pot Meals to the RESCUE!!!

I don’t even have a fancy, pretty crockpot to show you in this post.  I am still using the one we received for a wedding gift…20 years ago now, believe it or not!

Good news?  These simple recipe meals taste amazing in our 20-year-old crockpot and are family favorites for all 5 of us!


Simple crock pot meals are perfect for just tossing everything in!

Before sharing these super simple crockpot recipes with you, I should add a disclaimer.  I don’t like recipes where I have to measure or be too precise.  Also, I just use what I have on hand!  I consider myself more of a cook than a baker, which means I like to experiment, toss in a little of this and that, and see what happens!

This is especially true with easy slow cooker recipes.  It makes for some really simple crock pot meals when you can just toss in some favorites and know they will be great together!

However, after experimenting with these easy slow cooker recipes over the years, plus knowing they are sure to be loved by our whole family, I do keep certain ingredients on hand!

What cooks well in a slow cooker?

That being said, feel free to use what you have on hand, add and take away flavorings that you know your family loves.  Most of all, just get some inspiration to grab your crockpot and enjoy a simple dinner! Use that extra time to do something fun instead!

Meat, vegetables, potatoes, and beans are my staples to mix and match.  At the same time, you can just toss them in with some seasoning for a guaranteed win!

With school starting soon, it is so helpful to toss the ingredients into my crockpot in the morning and have dinner ready to put on the table when we get home!

How to Make the Best Affordable and Simple Crock Pot Meals for the Whole Family

Simple Crock Pot Meals with Chicken: Easy Slow Cooker Taco Chicken


  • Chicken breasts
  • Black beans
  • Taco seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic salt
  • Minced onion
  • Tortilla chips or flour tortilla shells
  • Shredded cheese
  • Optional: Rotel
Ingredients for a delicious crock pot meal including black beans, rotel, and different seasonings

Crockpot Tip:

I always spray my crockpot with a little bit of cooking spray before adding all of my ingredients.  It helps with the clean up and I don’t worry about stirring throughout the day to keep things from sticking on the sides!  Time saving elements like this are key to simple and easy meals, both the cooking AND the clean up!


I add two packets of the mild taco seasoning.  You can add more or less for the amount of chicken and beans you are cooking.  I generously cover the chicken with garlic powder and garlic salt.

If I have minced onion, I usually add a little of that for flavoring.  We also like the Rotel sauce.  My kids prefer the mild so that it isn’t too hot for anyone, however, if you don’t mind a little kick, I personally love the medium!  One can is great for some extra flavor.

I let the chicken taco dinner slow cook through the day.  Eight hours is my preferred time for any crockpot recipe, whenever possible.  At the same time, I often use the four or six hour time and it always turns out great!

Delicious chicken with seasoning simmering in the crock pot
A plate of a tasty Mexican meal including tortilla chips and black and refried beans

The chicken will really fall apart, which I love.  Typically, we shred it and layer it with the rest of our meal.  We enjoy the chicken served over the beans, with a side of tortilla chips or flour shells.  You can add a variety of toppings.  My kiddos like it more simple, so I sprinkle the top with shredded cheese and if I have tomatoes, add a few of those.

It is a reasonably healthy, low-calorie, easy crockpot meal that tastes wonderful!  I also love that it uses simple ingredients that are easy to keep on hand.  It warms up really well for leftovers, so I love that too.  Time saving elements, remember?!

Easy Slow Cooker Taco Chicken

An easy, healthy Mexican meal favorite!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 5


  • Crockpot


  • Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Cans Black Beans
  • 2 Packs Mild Taco Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Minced Onion
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tortilla Chips/Soft Shells
  • 1 Can Rotel Optional


  • Spray crock pot with cooking spray
  • Cover chicken with water
  • Add two packets of Mild Taco Seasoning
  • Sprinkle generous amounts of garlic powder, garlic salt & minced onion (to taste)
  • Add rotel, cover, and let cook for 8 hours
  • Once plated, add shredded cheese, and tortilla chips/shells as desired.
Keyword Crockpot, Healthy, Mexican

Yummy crock pot dinner dished up and ready to be served!

Simple Crock Pot Meals: Zesty Italian Chicken



  • Chicken breasts or tenderloins
  • Baby carrots
  • Zesty Italian dressing
  • Garlic powder
  • Minced onion
  • Lemon pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Carrots, seasonings, and other ingredients ready to be put in the crock pot

As with all of my crockpot recipes, I start by spraying the crockpot with cooking spray.  For this recipe, I fill my crockpot about 1/5 of the way with water and then add my chicken.  This recipe works great with chicken breasts and sometimes I like to use the chicken tenderloins as well.  They are a nice size for our kids, especially.  I always make extra of this because it is so delicious and makes great leftovers too!


I season the chicken before adding the carrots, as I want the seasonings to really soak in on the chicken!  That technique works great no matter what meat you are using for your easy slow cooker recipe.  Then, I use one bottle of zesty Italian dressing over the chicken, followed by generous amounts of the garlic powder and lemon pepper.  Next, I add a little bit of minced onion.

Seasoned carrots simmering in the crock pot

Lastly, I add the baby carrots and sprinkle them with regular salt and pepper.  All the flavorings really soak in, but I do like to give those a dash as they begin cooking.

If possible, I let this slow cook for 8 hours.  Our whole home smells AMAZING within a few hours.  It’s a great way to get everyone excited for family dinner!

Zesty Italian chicken, carrots, and pasta dished onto a plate


We really love this simple crock pot meal served with some rice or pasta, though sometimes we just add a second vegetable (which is a lot healthier anyway!). 

Any chicken that is left, I like to shred and refrigerate.  It is great to add to some chicken pasta for lunches or even a refreshing dinner!  You can find my favorite chicken pasta recipe HERE.  It is SO yummy and makes great lunches for the rest of the week!

Zesty Italian Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Course Main Course
Servings 5


  • Crockpot


  • Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Lg Bag Baby Carrots
  • 1 Zesty Italian Dressing
  • Garlic Powder
  • Minced Onion
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Spray crockpot with cooking spray, add chicken and cover chicken with water
  • Pour one bottle of zesty Italian dressing over chicken
  • Season chicken with garlic powder, lemon pepper, and minced onion
  • Add carrots and sprinkle salt & pepper over all
  • Let cook for 8 hrs, and serve with past of your choosing

Zesty Italian chicken meal in a table setting

Simple Crock Pot Meals: Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken


Clearly, we eat a lot of chicken around here!  But, it’s relatively inexpensive, healthy, and easy to keep on hand!  These days, I’m all about finding affordable, filling, and healthy meal ideas that our whole family will enjoy!  Can I get an amen?!


  • Chicken breasts or tenderloins
  • Baked beans
  • BBQ sauce (we like the honey BBQ, but you can substitute this with your favorite BBQ flavoring)
  • Garlic powder
  • Lemon pepper
  • Minced onion (or finely chop up a fresh onion if you have one on hand)
Barbecue chicken ingredients including barbecue sauce, chicken, and seasonings

First thing I do?  You got it!

After spraying my crockpot with cooking spray, I add the baked beans.  I prefer the Bush’s brand, but that is just personal preference.  Really, there are enough seasonings in this easy slow cooker meal to make the inexpensive store brand taste just as great!  Next, I add the chicken breasts or tenderloins and BBQ sauce.  Usually, I use a whole bottle for the amount of chicken and beans I am cooking.

Add the finishing touch to this easy slow cooker meal!

I generously top it all with garlic powder, a little lemon pepper, and a bit of minced onion.  After a couple of hours, your whole family will be asking “How long until dinner?!”  It literally smells sooooo good and fills our home with an inviting smell.  These days, however, I can’t seem to get food on the table fast enough for our kids!

Or if we are gone for the day, I always look forward to being greeted with that welcoming aroma of dinner cooking!

Barbecue chicken, corn, and baked beans served on plate

We enjoy this dinner served with steam fresh sweet corn or fresh corn on the cob.

Again, a healthy meal choice that is filling!  Shredding the leftover chicken and using it for BBQ chicken sandwiches for lunches or a second dinner is another win for a busy day!

Barbecue chicken, corn, and baked beans, ready for a delicious dinner

I know these are all extremely simple and you’ll notice repeated ingredients.  This is actually super intentional in my meal planning because it saves me time, effort, and money.  My preference is  to not keep a huge stock of food and ingredients.  In addition, since I know these are my go-to flavorings, it keeps me from having a lot of stuff that gets wasted! 

You won’t find gourmet cooking going on around here, but at the end of the day, a simple recipe that our whole family enjoys is always a win!. I’d rather spend that time around the table or playing a game after dinner than working quite so hard in the kitchen.  Who’s with me on that?!


Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 5


  • Crockpot


  • Chicken Breasts or Tenderloins
  • 2 Cans Baked Beans
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Minced Onion


  • Spray crockpot with cooking spray and add baked beans
  • Add chicken breasts or tenderloins
  • Pour bottle of BBQ sauce over chicken
  • Sprinkle generously with garlic powder, followed by a bit of lemon pepper & minced onion
  • Cook for 8 hours & serve with fresh corn or other vegetable of your choosing
Keyword BBQ, Crockpot


Looking for more delicious crock pot recipes?

I’m linking up some more crock pot inspiration from some of my blogging friends!  There are so many mouth-watering, easy, slow cooker recipes here.  You’ll definitely get some great ideas here for a huge variety of simple crock pot meals.  It can save you a lot of time and effort.  With school starting soon, I’m all about any time-saving things I can do to help not only myself, but my family too!

I am really excited to keep this list close at hand and try a few new ones each month during this school year!  All the work of figuring out what to fix for dinner is done for you!

What to cook for dinner when you have no idea what to make?

These simple crockpot meals are winners!

Well, hopefully this post helps!  Be sure to save it and then enjoy!

I hope these ideas will be helpful to you as you serve your family in the coming months.  I love that you can create the portions you need, easily plan your meals, and save a lot of time and even money with some simple crock pot meals.  And most of all, I hope by falling back on an easy crockpot recipe, you’ll have a little extra time to spend with the people you love the most!

That is definitely the best part of all to me!

What is the best crockpot for simple crock pot meals?

There are so many great options out there.  However, as I mentioned, my crockpot is 20 years old and going strong!  I think I can safely say that even with frequent use, it is a super high quality that will last you for many years.  You can find the updated version of my crockpot HERE!

Over on my storefront, I have a whole list of my favorite kitchen items, tableware, decor, and organization.  You can conveniently browse for your own kitchen HERE!

I’d love for you to follow me on social media!  You can find my home decor inspiration on Instagram, Pinterestand Facebook!  







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