When you cook at home, beef stew can be as complex as you want it to be. But when you drive a truck, you want simplicity.
We are going to show you how to make an absolutely delectable dish that can span a number of meals.
First, you need to select your ingredients.
For our version, we use:
- Beef (usually stew beef but it can be another type of meat cut into chunks);
- Beef bouillon (either cubes or granules) in a ratio of 2:1 bouillon to water (make sure there is no MSG in the product you use);
- Onion (we prefer to chop one fresh Vidalia onion because fresh tastes better to us and that variety of onion is sweeter);
- Potatoes (the plain white variety works but you can choose any type you like); and
- Carrots (we prefer freshly diced carrots or baby carrots, the latter of which don’t require any preparation).
First, we begin with the meat.
On this page, we are featuring a chuck tender roast as the meat.
This particular roast is about 3.3 pounds, but you will need to gauge your selection based on the size of your crock pot and personal needs.
It should be noted that you may pay more per pound for stew beef already cut into chunks.
If you cut up the meat yourself, you will be spending time.
You need to decide which one is more valuable to you and make your decision based on that.
If you know you’re going to be spending time in a dock, investing your time to cut up the meat might be a good idea.
Mike diced up the meat into the size of chunks that you normally see as “stew beef” at the store.
In this case, dicing the chuck tender roast himself saved us money.
The grade of meat may help dictate how long it needs to cook in order to become tender.
Since the chunks are fairly small, they don’t need poking to let the flavor in like we did with our pot roast.
Vicki cleaned the potatoes and diced them.
Note that she left the skins on.
We cover this on our potatoes page.
(We didn’t measure the amount of potatoes used here but estimated the amount based on the room in the crock pot.)
Then, she prepped the onion and diced it.
This was a large whole onion.
Together with the beef bouillon, this mixture approximates a beefy onion soup for the meat to cook in.
Since we chose to use baby carrots, no prep work needed to be done.
You can save money by peeling and chopping your own, but this is faster.
Again, we didn’t measure the carrots, but estimated the number to put in based on the room in the crock pot.
Mike says that the cooked carrots are his favorite part of beef stew.
Since this page was first written, we have become aware that many bouillon cubes (chicken and beef flavored) contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), which is an ingredient that has caused some people adverse reactions.
We can no longer recommend Wyler’s or Tone’s products that contain this or a similar ingredient.
Please do your own due diligence.
We are showing the ingredient here because this is how we prepared the dish featured on this page.
To save even more money, you can buy bouillon in bulk.
The container shown — which has about 177 cubes — was purchased for us by a friend who has a Sam’s Club card.
(You can buy it on Amazon.com, with whom we have an affiliate relationship, but we have found it more expensive there.)
For a 2:1 ratio of bouillon to water, we will need for the 6 bouillon cubes to 3 cups of water. If you prefer a weaker broth, either add less bouillon or more water.
Assembling the Ingredients
Here are our ingredients (clockwise): potatoes, beef, carrots, onion, and bouillon cubes (center). Water is not shown.
We bagged up the potatoes and carrots and put them in our ice chest until we were ready to add them to the crock pot.
Setting up the Crock Pot Slow Cooker
To make clean up quick, we chose to use a slow cooker liner in our crock pot.
To save the cost of a liner, you can also apply non-stick spray or even some cooking oil on the inside of the crock.
For us, the liner also serves as a bag for leftovers.
We put the meat in the bottom…
…followed by the diced onion, bouillon cubes and water.
When the meat had cooked for awhile, we placed the diced potatoes and carrots on top.
This is what the crock pot looked like before the potatoes and carrots were cooked.
Our estimate of how many vegetables would fit was “spot on.”
This is going to be one tasty beef stew!
Dinner is Ready
This is how the vegetables for the beef stew looked in a crock pot at the completion of the cooking cycle.
Does this look delicious or what?
We wish you could have smelled it cooking in our truck.
It smelled absolutely succulent!
Mike scooped the cooked potatoes and carrots from the crock pot in which he made beef stew into a bowl.
From this one pot, we had enough food for 6 meals (3 meals each for 2 people).
We estimated the cost of this beef stew preparation at the time we prepared it as follows:
Note: The cost of this preparation may have changed since this page was originally written. Your costs may be different.
Equipment we used:
Money saving tip: Look for the best cut of meat that will work for beef stew at the lowest possible cost.
Just remember that it will take time to cut up any meat that is not already in chunk form.
If you prefer cooking larger selections of beef, an alternative is pot roast.
Potatoes and carrots may vary in cost based on the season of the year you’re buying.
Baking potatoes tend to be more expensive than regular bagged potatoes.
Sometimes you can save some serious money by buying vegetables at a local farmer’s market.
Perhaps a home support team can do that for you.
Other versions of pre-made beef stew are commercially canned and freeze-dried.
Of course, these preparations contain the amounts of meat, gravy and seasonings that the manufacturers determine for you.
Some preparations (in our opinion) are a little skimpy when it comes to certain ingredients or go overboard on the salt.
When you make your own, you can season it as you desire. (This may be particularly important for drivers looking to limit their salt intake.)
Some stores may sell stew beef or pre-made beef stew preparations on sale at certain times.
Occasionally, you can find a real bargain on meat in the “reduced” price section of the refrigerated case.
You will need to use your own best judgment as to the suitability in using marked down meat as it is usually older and on its way toward expiration.
Instead of using a slow cooker liner, you can also spray the crock with non-stick spray. If anything sticks, you can soak it for awhile before cleaning (but don’t wait too long).
You may choose to follow our lead by dividing the vegetables and meat into portions. Depending on the amount you prefer, you can heat and eat the leftovers for more than a single meal.
We recommend using proper cooling procedures for any leftovers.
Don’t get distracted from your driving by the delicious smells coming forth from your crock pot while this dish is cooking.
Also, be sure to brace your crock pot appropriately against tip-overs before you take off, especially if the pot is full.