Less is More.
I encourage you to "cook for free" with what you've already got in your fridge, freezer, pantry, and spice cabinet. Hopefully these recipes will inspire you to use your slow cooker like an Easy Bake Oven for grownups --- cooking should be fun and easy, and there is truly no easier way to cook then to dump a bunch of stuff into a pot, press a button, and walk away.
If you are looking for a new slow cooker, these are the ones that I personally use in my home kitchen and recommend.
This flavorful minestrone uses ground meat and stewed tomatoes as a base.
You can make moist, delicious turkey meatballs in the slow cooker using just a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, green apples, and ground turkey. They also freeze well if you decide to make a whole bunch!
The "zestiness" comes from Rotel, and it's a great soup to make on a chilly fall or winter day.
The base for this chili is jarred pasta sauce, and the listed spice combination would make a leather gardening glove taste good.
Clean out Pantry Chili
Clean out Pantry Chili
It looks the same as the Poor Man's Chili, but it's different. This uses tomato paste, Italian Seasoning, canned beans, and it is DELCIOUS. (it looks the same because it's CHILI! duh!) :-)
If you've got a few cups of leftover mashed potatoes, you can't go wrong with Shepherd's Pie!
You can use all of the ends of the random bags of beans you have in your cupboard, or you can use a bag of 16-bean soup mix found in the grocery store.
The sauce uses peanut butter, brown sugar, and soy sauce with a bit of white wine vinegar to make a beautiful sweet, salty, tangy sauce for any cut of meat you'd like to use.
The base is made with frozen hashbrown potatoes, and you can use any type of diced meat you'd like. Add a few eggs, some milk, and then slow cooker overnight to wake up to a delicious and nutritious hot breakfast!
This is the clean-out-the fridge and pantry recipe that I use the most often, and it has gone viral on Pinterest (even with the lousy photo). It works, it's easy, and it's (most likely) FREE!
This vegetarian soup uses a lot of ingredients, but if you have a pretty well stocked spice cabinet you probably own everything already. This is a great freezer soup, although you'll probably have to thin it a bit upon reheating.