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Skip: Beef tenderloin or prime rib.

Opt for: Less expensive cuts of meat, such as short ribs, beef chuck, pork shoulder, and chicken thighs. Some of these cuts can retail for as low as $1 a pound. “Stew it in your slow cooker or Dutch oven to give it a top-quality taste,” says Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, the author of Good Food to Share ($30, amazon.com) and the founder of TheKitchn.com, a food blog.

Find slow-cooker recipes and tips here.