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Sloppy Joes from Scratch: A Very Good Cheap Eat

Sloppy Joes from scratch are a quick and easy dinner that won’t break the budget. In fact, you can very easily — and economically — make this savory meat mixture to serve a crowd. No cans or mixes required.

Sloppy Joes from Scratch | Good Cheap Eats

Sloppy Joes are ultimate comfort food. They are hearty so they fill you up after a big day of activity. They make good use of ground beef or turkey, often on sale throughout the year.

Sloppy Joes can be made in the pressure cooker or slow cooker so that you don’t heat up the kitchen or have to stand over a hot stove. You can easily take it to a potluck or on vacation! The recipe can easily be stretched to feed a crowd. It’s very freezer-friendly so you can make it weeks in advance of serving.

And it tastes great. Especially served with pickles.

Yep, pretty much ultimate comfort food.

What you might not realize is how very EASY it is to make Sloppy Joes from Scratch.

Sloppy Joes from Scratch

My husband eschews sweet mixed with savory. It’s just not his preference, which I’m totally cool with. Since good food equals love at our house, I’ve made it a point these last few decades to make meals that I know he will love. Since I couldn’t rely on a mix or canned sauce, it made sense years ago that I figure out how to make Sloppy Joes from scratch.

Turns out it’s about as easy as can be! And super customizable.

Sloppy Joes from Scratch | Good Cheap Eats

How I make this good:

Whenever possible I like to cook with plain old ingredients. While the convenience of mixes and canned sauces is nice, I feel better about feeding my family just real food whenever possible. (Go here for some of my reasons on all that.)

The fact that this Sloppy Joes recipe relies on simple seasonings and ground beef means that it doesn’t rely on additives, preservatives, and sweeteners. It’s just good real food.

We like our Sloppy Joes just barely sweet here, so I use the lower amount of brown sugar. If you prefer them very sweet, use more. If you’re eating paleo or Whole 30, omit the sugar completely and serve the mixture over cauliflower rice or potatoes. When you make Sloppy Joes from scratch, you can make them exactly the way you like.

How I make this cheap:

Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Do a price comparison. I know that Costco is the best place to buy ingredients in bulk, like ground beef and tomato products when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where.
  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. For instance, when I see a great price on ground beef at the grocery store, I buy a lot. 
  • Cook in bulk. It saves so much time and money to make more than one meal at a time and stash the extras in the freezer. It also helps me avoid pricey convenience foods or take-out on the nights when I just don’t want to cook. This recipe is the ideal bulk recipe.
  • Stretch the more expensive items with less expensive counterparts. Ground beef can be expensive if you don’t find it on sale. You can stretch it or substitute it with ground turkey to offset the cost.

Sloppy Joes from Scratch | Good Cheap Eats

Sloppy Joes are a quick and easy dinner that won’t break the budget. In fact, you can very easily — and economically — make this savory meat mixture completely from scratch. No cans or mixes required.

  1. Place the ground meat and onion in a skillet over medium heat. Add the paprika, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper.

  2. Cook, stirring, until the meat is cooked through and the onion has gone clear, about 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add a small amount of water if you prefer a thinner consistency to the sauce.

  4. Serve the meat mixture on the buns with the optional toppings.

  1. After you’ve browned the meat and onion with the spices, transfer the mixture to the crock of a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on low for 2 to 4 hours.

  1. Prepare the recipe in the pressure cooker on saute.

To freeze: Place the meat mixture in an airtight container. Chill completely before storing in the freezer. Thaw and reheat to serve.

After you’ve prepared the recipe, would you do me a favor? I’d really appreciate it if you came back and left a starred review. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Sloppy Joes from Scratch | Good Cheap Eats

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