Taco Soup for the Crockpot and Food Stamps

Taco Soup is my favorite soup recipe and one of my absolute favorite crockpot recipes!  Whenever a friend has a baby or is in the hospital we deliver this for the family.  It freezes so well  that I’ve eaten it six months after making a batch. This taco soup recipe is so cheap to make that even a family surviving on food stamps can afford it.  Wondering what food stamps have to do with it?  Read on!

Food stamps are keeping thousands of families in the US from starvation.  Although they’re supposed to supplement a family’s food budget, many people can only afford to use the money they get in food stamps.  The food stamps program is a great resource for struggling families, but is it enough?  That’s what we are going to find out with the United Way Hunger Challenge during Hunger Action Week.

Eric and I qualify for food stamps, we’ve gotten several mailings letting us know that and inviting us to apply for food stamps.  I admit that sometimes I’ve been tempted, and not because we need them.  We eat VERY well on only $100-$150 a month.  I’m incredibly creative with our food budget and have found hundreds of way to save money in that area.

But when I saw that we could basically get handed $60 a week for food, I started thinking, ooh, what could we afford with an extra $150 a month that we weren’t spending on food?  Maybe a car that was more reliable, or finally getting that DSLR I so DESPERATELY want for my food photos, or even a trip somewhere!  Then I laugh at myself realizing I would never take food stamps if I didn’t actually need them to eat.

But what if I did need them?  That’s the premise of the Hunger Challenge.  If our family of two was starting out on food stamps and we had nothing in our pantry except maybe some salt, could we live off of just $61 dollars for a week?  That was the biggest part of the challenge for me, pretending my cupboards of sauces, condiments, and seasonings that I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years were completely bare.

It means that for the first week I have to use a lot of the same ingredients in very creative ways.  It also means that for the most part we’re  just eating 3 meals a day minus the snacks of fruit, nuts, or other treats I like throughout the day.  I could only afford a few apples, oranges and bananas because I had to buy soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, rice, and other staples I’m used to having on hand and only replenishing every six months or so.

I created a menu, and shopping list, went to multiple stores to get the best prices, and am all set to make affordable meals like potato quesadillas and red cabbage salad, a scramble, and taco soup (which will feed us for 3-4 meals!).  I’m looking forward to letting you know how it goes and sharing some more cheap recipes and grocery shopping tips with you.

Crockpot Recipe for Taco Soup

8-10 servings


1 pound ground beef
1 red onion chopped
1 can corn-undrained
1 can black beans-undrained
1 can kidney beans-undrained
2 cans chopped tomatoes with chiles
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 envelope taco seasoning (or 1/4 cup if you get in bulk)


Brown beef in a large skillet, when it is close to done add chopped onions and mix well.  Cover and continue to cook until onion is soft.

Dump onion and beef with remaining ingredients into a large crockpot.  Mix well.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

Serving options: Mix in grated cheddar and sour cream, sprinkle with broken tortilla chips or use whole chips like spoons.

Approximate cost/serving: The beef was the most expensive ingredient at $1.50, each can is only 50-99 cents.  The whole pot of soup is around $7 to make, at 10 servings it’s only 70 cents a serving, and feeds our family of two multiple times.

Vegetarian/Gluten Free:  I’ve made this meatless before, and it’s still quite tasty!  Read your labels for the taco seasonings, mine is gluten free but that doesn’t guarantee they all are.

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35 Responses to “Taco Soup for the Crockpot and Food Stamps”

  1. Fran
    January 26, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Oh my! I’m sitting here waiting for pizza dough to rise and want to dive into the screen for a bowl of this soup. :)

  2. lauren
    January 26, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    Great post Diana! I’m looking forward to reading about the Hunger Challenge. After you mentioned it, yeah, it would be difficult to not cook with any of the condiments and sauces in our pantry.

  3. Karen
    January 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    Diana, if you decide to go ahead with your low income cooking classes, these are exactly the kinds of recipes you need! Take some cans of stuff and dump them together… :)

  4. diana
    January 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Dive on in Fran, I have plenty to share :)

    It’s been a great challenge Lauren.

    Thanks Karen! It looks like it’s happening, we just received some funding through the city and may have a kitchen lined up. I’m excited!

  5. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best
    January 27, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    I love the wooden bowl holding the taco soup. This looks like a wonderfully savory, economical and nutritious meal!

  6. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    January 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    So great of you to participate in the hunger challenge. Love the taco soup, too… Proof that you can eat well on a budget! Yum!

  7. Gigi
    January 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    I am VERY impressed! Whoa!!!!! You turned down help with your grocery bill!!! I really have to know how you make meals for your family on only $100-$150 a month. Our food budget is $550.00 a month and we go over even, and we are a family of 4.. I admit, I do my best to buy organic when possible.

    • diana
      January 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      I’m realizing I need to do some posts with specific tips on saving money on groceries. A couple off the top of my head: Find local farms! By doing a CSA and buying a quarter cow and freezing it, we save a TON of money. Getting things in season helps a lot, they’re cheaper then. Canning yourself while fruit and veggies are in season also saves some money. More to come!

  8. Richard Stevens
    January 28, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    I love these kind of recipes! Quick, Easy and Tasty!
    Not to mention thrifty!!

  9. Alyia Carrigan
    January 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    I remember this soup was so good when you brought it over. I think I’ll make it for dinner tonight.

    • diana
      January 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

      Oh cool! Let me know how it goes Alyia.

  10. Tanja Fussell
    January 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    I’ll be making this for sure! Sadly, in these times more and more people need ideas like this great one to help them through. Your post gives me hope for America :) . Thanks for caring.

  11. Sonya
    January 31, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Oh yum! this looks like a fantastic recipe..Im bookmarking it:)

  12. elizabeth traylor
    February 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    yummy yummy yummy yummy so good

  13. cheryl
    February 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    This soup was easy to make and it was delicious; my whole
    family loved it.

  14. Jessica
    February 25, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    Making this next week! Yummm.

  15. Jessica
    March 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    This was delicious, lady!!!

  16. rosie esquer
    October 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    I have this one cooking at home as I type. I cant wait to try it!!!!… I need new ideas feeding a family of 5

  17. Theresa Young
    December 13, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    We are making this soup tonight. Minus the cheddar cheese and sour cream. You make with what you have, especially with 3-6 inches of snow.

  18. JulieD
    April 19, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    This looks really yummy! I’m always trying to trim my grocery budget by couponing. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe with me. :)

    • diana
      April 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      You’re so welcome. I have yet to try couponing but am thinking I need to learn how to do it!

  19. Miesha Mack
    July 8, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    OMG…..i love taco soup making it for my roomates hope they like as much as i do….its crazy my mother made for me and now that i live on my own at 18 feels so good to make it for others
    Thank You Mom

    • diana
      July 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

      I love it too! What a sweet comment, your mom should be proud.

  20. Molly
    September 7, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    This is the first time I’ve stumbled upon your blog – taco soup is planned for dinner today at our food frugal house! I just wanted to say THANK YOU for speaking up about your decision NOT to take food stamps even though you qualify for them! I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been in line at the grocery store with my detailed list, calculations (am I on budget!?), coupons, etc feeling good about the accomplishment of feeding three (i have an ever hungry 4 year old!) on about $80/week (no food stamps!) only to have my good feeling crushed by the family in front of my decked out in brand names, buying all types of sugar filled prepackaged foods and beverages, with food stamps – I don’t want to judge, but is that necessary for them to survive?! Anyway, THANK YOU for your choice to do your part to be frugal! Thank you for sharing your efforts and recipes! I appreciate you and know that our country could learn a lot from people like you!

    • diana
      September 13, 2011 at 9:05 am #

      That’s so awesome Molly. Thanks for sharing YOUR story! Us frugal folk have to stick together and spread the word.

  21. Aquaria
    March 2, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    We’re not on food stamps, but I can’t spend more than about $60-70 a week for food. More shocking, I can’t use potatoes at all (severely allergic).

    Like you, I’ve learned to be creative, and I shop sales like mad. Plus, I have an advantage most shoppers don’t: My husband works for the South Texas grocery chain, HEB, and we get discounts on store brand items. Fortunately, their store brand items are usually as good as, or better than (yes, I said it), the national. They also tend to have incredible sales, and I get lucky sometimes with clearance items.

    What’s hilarious is that I’ve become my mother. She used to be nutty about food sales and finding good recipes to feed us three kids and my grandparents on a nurse’s salary. Heck, I’ve called her lately to pick her brain for the things she used to feed us back then.

    Folks, you might have to eat cheaper cuts of meats and work those leftovers like mad, but you can eat very well for $70 a week. Ask me. I know all about it.


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