Super Frugal Recipe: Slow Cooker Ham & Beans Using a Ham Bone

Jaime Bacon
by Jaime Bacon

Today I am making a super frugal meal; slow cooker ham and beans. For me, it doesn't matter what time of year it is. I like making a big ham and beans in my slow cooker. You’ll get one very big meal or a few smaller meals depending on your family size.

I usually buy a spiral or regular ham at Easter time or Christmas time, whenever the price is really low. I put that in the freezer so I can use different times of the year.

When I make my ham, I'll cut off all the meat or at least as much as I can, but I'm still left with a big ham bone and I just stick it in a freezer bag so I can do something with it later.

I don't know about you, but there are times when I just can't cut all the meat off of the ham bone. So a recipe like this is perfect because you can put the ham bone in a slow cooker with everything else and the meat just kind of melts right off the bone.

1. Gather the ingredients 

This is a super cheap meal to make and only requires a few ingredients, including dried beans. I'm sure you could use regular canned beans as well, but dried beans can be cheaper. 

The ingredients I’m using are a huge ham bone with quite a bit of meat on it, still frozen. It's not going to be a big deal because I'm putting it in the slow cooker.

I'm only using half of a bag of pinto beans. I bought a 2-pound bag from Aldi, but I only used 1 pound. I also chopped up an onion to give it a little bit of flavor. I added pepper to the slow cooker. 

As a side when this is done, I'm going to make some corn muffin mix. You do need some milk and an egg, so keep that in mind if you buy corn muffin mix.

2. Sort and rinse the beans

Let's start by sorting through these beans and getting them rinsed off. Now if you're using dried beans, the one thing you have to look out for is rocks. They end up in there as part of the processing, it’s normal but you do have to remove them.

I'm going to pour two cups of beans out into a colander. I look through it all, to be sure there are no rocks in them. I have found a few now and then, so you just want to be careful.

Then you'll want to rinse all the beans and you can put them straight in the slow cooker. Now some recipes may require you to soak beans beforehand to lower the cooking time. I am not going to soak them at all. I'm just going to put them straight in and cook them on high for quite a while.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients

There is a lot of meat on the ham bone, and probably a lot of fat as well. We can always kind of skim that off. I'll place the ham bone on top of the beans, and the chopped onion around it, and then I'll put the pepper on top. Next, we're going to fill the slow cooker with water. 

My goal is to cover the beans at least two inches above the top of the beans. I'm not trying to make soup; I just want to be able to cook these beans effectively. I used 6 cups of water. It's okay that it's not fully covering the ham bone. 

4. Cook on high

We are going to cook this on high for 4 to 6 hours. I used my Instant Pot, but I am using the slow cooker setting on the highest setting. I'm going to cook for up to 6 hours. My Instant Pot tends to cook things quickly on the slow cooker setting so I'm going to check back around 4 hours to see how done it is.

5. Check after 4 hours

I checked my ham and beans after cooking for 4 hours on high. The beans are completely done, so I'm going to say anywhere between 4 to 6 hours. Check it after 4 to see if it's done, and then you can always cook it a little bit longer if you want. 

6. Remove the ham bone

Take out this ham bone after 4 hours. I will try to cut off what meat I can and then we will put that back in the slow cooker. And all we have to do is make our cornbread muffins and dinner will be ready.  

The cost of the meal

Let's break down the cost a little bit. The dried beans that I bought were about $0.80 for the half package. The ham depends on what size ham you bought. Mine was probably an 8-pound ham, which cost me about $8 or so.

The cost for the bone and the ham that was left on it was maybe $1. The onion is probably about $0.20. The jiffy corn muffin mix with the egg and the milk added to it, I'm going to guess it's around $0.80. 

So altogether this dinner, which feeds four people, cost me $2.80, which is amazing for a frugal meal. I wouldn't even call that an extreme budget meal. Beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein. You get a lot of protein from the ham as well. 

Slow cooker ham and beans

This was a super good slow cooker ham and beans, and I'm always excited to make this whenever I get an extra ham bone. You can make this any time of year, especially during the summer when you don’t want to heat your kitchen by using your oven.

What’s your favorite frugal meal to make in the slow cooker? Share it in the comments below!

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3 of 26 comments
  • Beverly Beverly on Dec 30, 2023

    Honey Baked Ham store carries a mixed bean packet that makes a delicious soup. You just add the ham bone (which they also carry). I have tried it and it’s delicious! Takes abt 3 hours.

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    • Skampy Skampy on Dec 30, 2023

      Grocery stores also carry the mixed packed of beans.

  • Rachel Kohr Rachel Kohr on Dec 30, 2023

    Ham and bean soup is a great way to use both ham and beans...the joy of it is you can use any kind of beans...i prefer navy beans...i also have my own recipe for cornbread... after enjoying a bowl of soup on rice, i like to take a piece of bread, butter it and then put a layer of cold soup on half the bread and butter, lay a green onion on top, fold it over and enjoy a delightful bean sandwich...