A hearty and filling stew with minimal ingredients and cost. Frugal eating never tasted so good with this poor man's stove top stew!
Making beef stew is a great way to make a traditional soup during the colder nights when you want something filling.
Unfortunately, the cost of stew beef cuts can sometimes range far out of budget. That or a trip to the store is entirely out of the question.
That's alright, though because this is where Poor Man's Beef Stew comes in handy! With just a pound (or even a cup of leftover ground beef) and a few of the cheap veggies, you can have a pot of delicious stew that tastes like it should cost a fortune more.
For more frugal dinner ideas, make sure to check out my Cornbread Tamale Pie, Hot Dog Fried Rice, Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta, and Spicy Peanut Butter Ramen.
Why This Recipe Works
- It's simple yet delicious. With this easy stove top beef stew recipe, you're going to get a flavorful and thick broth packed with veggies, meat, and bowl-licking goodness.
- Easy prep. We can use up a lot of "whatever is on hand" with this recipe as it's very versatile.
- Even the leftovers taste great! It's not often you get to hear that, but this stew tastes even better the next day. My guess is that the flavors had longer to develop. So make sure to set aside leftovers for lunch while you still have a chance!
Ground Beef- While ground beef is preferable, you could use any ground meat (cooked or uncooked) that you may have on hand.
Carrots- Large carrots are far cheaper than baby carrots, but use what you have on hand.
Celery- We just need some green in here, and the celery also adds a light crisp to every bite that helps offset the heartier potatoes.
Onion- One chopped onion will help to add aroma and more flavor to the pot!
Potatoes- I personally prefer Russets because they're cheaper, but golden potatoes work great too and don't get grainy when cooked.
Flour- This is the soup thickener and helps to give a thicker broth that fills tummies.
Seasonings- We need a combination of salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. I always buy whatever seasonings I can at my local Dollar Tree before paying supermarket prices.
Tomato Paste- Just a small 6 ounce can of tomato paste helps to add flavor and the red color we expect from stews. I have also had success using leftover spaghetti sauce instead- turned out incredible!
Beef Broth- A 32 ounce carton of beef broth is enough, but you could also do water and bullion.
Water:-You will need 4 cups of water to help make this into a hearty soup. Leaving the water out is fine but will give you a more chili-like consistency.
For the exact measurements needed, please see the recipe card below.
🍽 Equipment needed
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Check out how to make poor man's stew with these simple step-by-step instructions:
Brown your ground beef in a large pot over medium high heat and drain excess grease.
Add in the celery, onion, and carrots. Stir and then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in the potatoes and stir to combine.
Add in the flour, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Stir to combine and coat everything.
Add in the tomato paste and stir until well combined.
Add in the beef broth and water. Stir until well mixed.
Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to medium/low and let simmer for 45 minutes. It's ready when the potatoes and carrots are fork tender.
🍴 Recipe Tips
I've been making this ground beef stew for a long time, in fact, I prefer it over more traditional beef stews because the meat is smaller and less chewy!
Some great tips to note are that it doesn't taste great too soon after mixing everything together. The flavor is very tomato-based. Give it a while to simmer and blend flavors together and the overwhelming tomato flavor goes away and you're left with something incredible. I promise.
A good way to determine if the stove top beef stew is ready is to take a large potato chunk from the soup and place it on a cutting board. With the back of a fork, press down to mash it. If it can be easily mashed, then you know they're cooked and the soup is good.
If there's resistance, wait a little longer. You could also simply stab the potatoes and carrots with a fork but I find that depending on the potato type you choose, there may be some resistance in a stab that you wouldn't get from a mash, making the mash technique more reliable.
Please note that simmering for 45 minutes may be too long if you chopped your potatoes into smaller pieces.
Russets cook faster than a golden or red potato and smaller pieces cook faster than larger ones, so check every 5-10 minutes just to be sure.
More veggies. I have had a lot of success with adding in different veggies (usually whatever I have on hand). Some of our personal favorites have been halved cherry tomatoes, chopped summer squash (like zucchini), and sliced mushrooms.
You can add mushrooms in with the onions, carrots, and celery at the beginning to get a nicer flavor out of them, but other veggies can be added with the potatoes.
Leftover meat. If you have leftover seasoned taco meat or meat from sloppy joes, you can add them to this soup in place of the ground beef and create a nice flavorful soup.
Pasta sauce. I have used pasta sauce, marinara sauce, and pizza sauce in this recipe at different times because I'm notoriously bad at keeping tomato paste on hand. All have turned out incredible because the sauces bring seasoning to the pot.
Flour. Need to be gluten free? Swap out the requested flour for ⅓ cup of cornstarch. Just add it in at the end as a slurry by taking 1 cup of broth from the soup and adding it to a bowl with the cornstarch. Whisk until dissolved and stir into the soup.
🥗 Side Dishes
This recipe pairs really well with breaded items like Air Fryer Canned Biscuits, Air Fryer Frozen Garlic Bread, Homemade Dinner Rolls, and 2 Hour No Knead White Bread.
It's a low-cost soup that tastes great! Made with cheap veggies like onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, and ground beef instead of a pricier cut this soup packs a lot into every heart-warming bowl.
Yes, after allowing the soup to cool completely, store it in a freezer bag or other freezer-friendly container for up to three months. Thaw and reheat before eating.
No, ground beef will naturally produce its own grease and oils as it cooks. Drain excess grease for better tasting (and slightly healthier) soup.
Other Soup Recipes To Try Soon!
- Creamy Turkey Dumpling Soup
- Easy Zucchini Corn Chowder
- 5 Ingredient Instant Pot Chili
- Cheesy Potato Soup
Poor Man's Beef Stew
- 1 pound Ground beef ($3.37)
- 3 large Carrots, peeled and chopped ($0.42)
- 3 stalks Celery, chopped ($0.36)
- 1 medium Onion, chopped ($0.70)
- 3 medium Potatoes (gold or russet work best!), chopped (roughly 1 lb.) ($1.44)
- ⅓ cup All purpose flour ($0.03)
- 1 teaspoon Salt ($0.10)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder ($0.10)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning ($0.10)
- ½ teaspoon Ground black pepper ($0.05)
- 6 ounces Tomato paste (small can) *See Note ($0.46)
- 32 ounces Beef Broth ($1.33)
- 4 cups Water ($0.00)
- In a large pot over medium high heat, brown your ground beef and drain excess grease.
- Add in celery, carrots, and onion. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add in potatoes and stir to combine.
- Add in flour, salt, garlic powder, italian seasoning, and black pepper, stirring to combine and coat well.
- Add in tomato paste and stir until everything is well coated.
- Add in beef broth and water. Stir until well mixed.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium/low and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes and veggies are fork tender.
- Tomato paste can be substituted for 1-2 cups of leftover spaghetti sauce.
- Additional veggies can be added depending on what you have on hand. Mushrooms should be added with the onions to get the most flavor but other veggies like zucchini can be added with the potatoes.
- Different potato varieties and sizes will cook at different rates. Russets will cook faster than yellow or red potatoes and smaller chunks will cook faster than larger ones so keep an eye on your soup and check every 5-10 minutes for doneness because you may not need all 20 minutes, or you could need longer.
- Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Bonnie Dietrich says
Can you use canned carrots
I don't see why not! I recommend adding them in towards the end though so that they don't become mushy.
Bonnie Dietrich says
Bonnie Dietrich says
I made this for dinner tonight and it was very good.
So happy to hear that 🙂
I made this and it was wonderful. Thinking of adding pasta instead of potatoes next time.
Pasta noodles sound like a great addition (my husband loves adding egg noodles to soups)!
This was delicious! I think I'm gonna add more potatoes next time tho because I love lots of potatoes! Also I accidentally tripled the beef but oh boy it was delicious, I think I'll continue to do that! So good
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!