How to Make Delicious Sloppy Joes in the Crockpot

How to put a homemade dinner on the table in a hurry: sloppy joes from scratch.

If you're struggling to get nutritious and delicious meals on the table, you might have already realized that a slow-cooker is your best friend.

While this from-scratch sloppy joe recipe is made in a Crock-pot, you can just as easily throw it together at almost the last minute. I'll explain more later in this post.

I'm often guilty of working on something with such single-minded-ness that I don't realize I should stop and make dinner. OR I'm too tired to stand on my feet in front of the stove. OR I forgot to take something out of the freezer.

Or maybe all three at the same time.

And then that hangry thing hits me. If you're not familiar with the term, it's a combination of hungry and angry. I'm so hungry that I get very grumpy. When my children were teenagers they would often hand me food and say eat something! PLEASE!

I've gotten a bit better at planning ahead, and making a plan for dinner earlier in the day. I've also learned a few tricks to make putting dinner on the table faster and easier.

You can read Part One of this series, How to Make Your Own Convenience Food here. You'll find some additional hints and hacks in that post, plus my recipe for making your own chili seasoning so you can save money too.

Using a slow-cooker to save time

How can using a Crock-pot save you time? It does sound like an oxymoron. But it's true... you can toss the ingredients for dinner in the slow-cooker and let it do the cooking for you.

While it might not save you actual minutes in your day, it does make dinner time easier when you're tired and stressed, and it can prevent "hangry-ness"!

Now you can go about your day - and work on that big project like deep-cleaning and reorganizing the bathroom, or rebuilding the chicken run - while the slow-cooker makes dinner for you. You don't even have to stir the pot.

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Plan ahead to save even more time

There are some tricks to making the process even quicker, so that you can really save time. By spending a few minutes here and there to get a head-start on preparing certain ingredients - like making your own chili seasoning in Part One of this series - you will save time in the long run.

The secret to making things ahead is to prepare ingredients when you aren't tired or stressed. Set aside a morning or afternoon to work on meal preparation.

And if standing on your feet for hours isn't comfortable or even possible, take heart. You don't have to do a massive cook-ahead session in one day. Assemble several jars of chili seasoning one morning. On another day cook some ground beef to freeze and use later. Make some chicken stock next week.

If you can food from your garden in the summer, you know that the time you put in during the growing season will bring you a harvest of jars of food to use later. Making your own convenience food is the same concept.

How to turn ground beef into convenience food

When you find large packages of ground beef on sale (or if you have a freezer full of home-grown beef), cook it in quantity. It really isn't any more work to brown five pounds of hamburger than one pound, other than needing a larger pan.

How to turn ground beef into convenience food.

OR you can boil it instead of frying. I like this method better. Here's how to boil ground beef instead of frying it, and why you should.

Once the beef is browned and drained, divide it into one-pound containers and freeze it. Or whatever size your family requires; in our household of two, I freeze three-quarters of a pound for each meal.

I recommend freezing cooked ground beef in a thin flat layer. Not only does it freeze faster, it thaws faster too.

To use the frozen ground beef, take it out of the container, put in a strainer and run hot tap water over it to thaw. This has the additional benefit of washing off any remaining fat. You can add this partially-thawed hamburger meat to chili, sloppy joes and any other dish that requires browned ground beef.

You can prepare ground venison, moose, bison and any other meat in this same way. (Don't forget to label the containers!)

How to make Sloppy Joes in a slow-cooker

Double or triple this recipe if desired; the amounts in this recipe will feed 2-4 people depending on their appetites.

Keep reading to find out how to make this recipe even faster and easier - and how to make it without using a slow-cooker too.

Crockpot Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup or tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp chili powder

Combine all ingredients including the pre-cooked ground beef in your slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Spoon onto hamburger buns to serve.

If desired, you can sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes before adding them to the slow-cooker, but it's an optional step. They'll soften up in the slow cooking process.

How to make Sloppy Joes on the stove-top

To put this meal on the table in record-breaking time, sauté the onions and garlic in a saucepan for a few minutes until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes, then serve.

How to turn this recipe into homemade convenience food

If you'd like to take it even one step further and make sloppy joes as easy as opening a can from the store, here's what to do.

Measure all of the ingredients into a freezer container except the ground beef (which you've already frozen separately after browning it). Label the container and freeze.

Time-saving tips in the kitchen

Of course, I recommend making more than one container of sloppy joe mix at a time. You're already chopping onions, why not chop more than one meal's worth?

And if you're making something else this week that requires chopped onions, chop enough onions for that meal now too.

To make the convenience-version of sloppy joes for dinner, just empty the freezer container into the slow-cooker, add the already-browned ground beef, and cook on low for several hours. Stir before serving on hamburger buns.

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You CAN put a delicious homemade meal on the dinner table in a hurry! Make these delicious sloppy joes from scratch in the crockpot OR on the stove-top. Learn how to turn sloppy joes into convenience food. #dinner #fromscratch #convenience food

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