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  1. Steel-cut oats are cheaper than microwave oatmeal, but they take longer to cook. Instead of waking up early, cook the oats in your Crock-Pot. Blogger eatathomecooks.com has tested six different versions.    See recipes: 6 Ways to Make Slow-Cooker Oatmeal from Eat At Home Cooks
  2. Instead of buying canned stock, freeze the bones, trimmings and juices from roasts. When you’ve got enough scraps, place them in the slow cooker, fill it with water about three quarters of the way, cover and cook on low for eight hours or slow. Strain the liquid and discard solids. Use the broth immediately or freeze for up to three months.
  3. You can buy a 1-pound bag of dried beans for less than $1.50 at most grocery stores. Soak beans in water overnight in your slow-cooker. Drain, put beans back in the cooker and cover with fresh water; stir in salt and a few garlic cloves. Cover and cook on low for eight hours. The beans can provide the base for several healthy, affordable meals.   Plus: 7 Easy Black Bean Recipes to Try »
  4. Making mac and cheese can be a lengthy process, but this slow-cooker method ensures you’ll come home from work and have it be ready to serve (plus, you won’t have to precook the pasta).   See recipe: Extra Cheesy Slow-Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
  5. Instead of cooking meatloaf in the oven, spend just 10 minutes of prep in the morning and let cook in your Crock-Pot for eight hours.   See recipe: Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Glaze
  6. This slow-cooker veggie lasagna needs just 10 minutes of prep time before it cooks for three hours. Don’t care for spinach, or have extra vegetables left over from another meal? Layer them in as a healthy alternative. Broccoli and mushrooms work especially well.   See recipe: Spinach and Cheese Lasagna 
  7. You'll love this savory slow-cooker version of eggplant parmesan.    See recipe: Slow-Cooker Eggplant Parmesan
  8. It may sound weird, but it works! Try this Crock-Pot version from momtastic.com that's made with Nutella.   See recipe: Slow-Cooker Nutella Brownies
  9. Once you try this Crock-Pot version of the classic BLT sandwich, you’ll never go back. We also love the melted tomatoes on crackers with soft goat cheese, or in a frittata paired with mozzarella or feta.    See recipe: Melted-Tomato BLTs
  10. This kid-friendly paella with chicken sausage and ham requires just 20 minutes of prep, then it cooks in your Crock-Pot for four hours.   See recipe: Slow-Cooker Paella
  11. Cost per serving: $3.14 Easily make this fish on one pan in the oven. It takes less than 25 minutes from start to finish.     See recipe: Roasted Cod with Mustard Bread Crumbs
  12. Cost per serving: $2.33 The smoked chicken sausages in this dinner keep it low in saturated fat without giving up on flavor.   See recipe: Sautéed Sausages with Apples
  13. Cost per serving: $2.52 Everything is roasted in this salad, even the lettuce!   See recipe: Roast-Chicken Caesar Salad