Down to your last few dollars, but still days away from payday? Or maybe you just want something tasty and easy to make?
When I think of stew, I generally think of a hearty mixture of diced roast beef, potatoes, carrots, and stewed tomatoes, and who knows what else they put in stew? But really, stew is mainly just a soup of meat and vegetables. And I would rather not spend a lot of time washing and dicing potatoes and carrots and stuff.
Instead of doing all that work, do this instead. Get out your crockpot or slow cooker. Open up cans of green beans, peas, corn, and sliced carrots and throw them all in together. Heat. Bam! Instant vegetable stew.
Of course, that's just the starter. There's much you can do to add to this or to change it up. Add canned mushrooms to the mix. I usually add some chopped onion to it (yellow onion of course. It's cheaper than white or purple onions). Maybe you want to add some fresh or frozen vegetables to the mix, like broccoli or squash. Go ahead--most vegetables will mix okay. Okra, califlower, asparagus, canned spinach? Most beans are okay, too, although I would be careful about adding too many beans, as I think it takes away from the stew-like character of the mix.
Sure, fresh or frozen vegetables are probably healthier than canned vegetables, but then it wouldn't be so cheap and easy to make, would it?
I usually like to add Cavender's Greek Seasoning to it, but then I add Cavender's Greek Seasoning to almost everything I cook. I love it. However, you can add your own favorite seasoning mix, or just keep it simple with pepper and maybe some garlic powder. No need to add salt, since most canned vegetables already have salt. Or spice it up with red pepper and chili powder.
Besides the Greek seasoning, another "secret ingredient" I like to use is vinegar. A little vinegar will give foods a tangy, somewhat sweet taste (without adding sugar!). I use vinegar in my chili, pizza sauce, and, of course, in my stew.
Of course, you can leave this just as a vegetable stew, or you can add some kind of meat. Leftovers, like roast beef or chicken, are always good. Sliced hot dogs or cooked hamburger if you're cheap or on a tight budget. I like using ground turkey, as it's usually a little cheaper than hamburger. Shrimp and sausage (along with okra) if you want to do something a little more Cajun or more like jambalaya.
I also usually add some flour or corn starch to it to thicken it up, once it's gotten hot. I just don't really care for thin or watery soups. Bisquik or pancake mix will work in a pinch, if you don't have plain flour or corn starch. How much you add depends upon how much liquid you have, and how thick you want it to be.
You can also add some rice or pasta of some kind if you like, but like the beans, I think too much changes the character of it.
To give you an example of what you can do, let me tell you what I put in it when I made it today:
a can of green beans
a can of corn
a can of peas
a can of sliced carrots
a can of mushrooms
a can of chicken broth
a can of chicken noodle soup
a can of cream of chicken soup
a can of cream of mushroom soup
a slice of onion, chopped
some roasted red pepper, chopped
some black pepper
some garlic powder
some Cavender's Greek Seasoning
some White Wine vinegar
some corn starch
some grated parmesan cheese
I thought that the cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups would be enough to thicken it up, but with all the water from the canned veggies, broth, and the condensation from the slow cooking process, it was still pretty thin, so I added the corn starch to thicken it up more.
In any case, it came out delicious and tasty once again! The best thing to do is to always have a few cans of vegetables in the cupboard, so that when you're desperate or lazy, you'll have the basics ready, and can then add whatever else you may have handy.