From dinner to dessert, you don’t need to make a big grocery run for these delicious meals.

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With everything going on in the world right now, it's safe to say that we are craving simple, nourishing recipes to feed our families more than ever. Additionally, many of us are still making a solid effort to keep grocery runs as speedy as possible. The solution to complicated, time-consuming shopping and meal prep? The two-ingredient recipe. No, not too good to be true—it's time to take your slow cooker out of storage and let it work its magic. 

You only need two ingredients to make these simple yet satisfying dishes, in addition to the basics of water, salt, and pepper. There are some options for add-ins to take things to the next level, but overall, your grocery list will be remarkably short. The result: You'll get to spend more time cozying up at home this winter. 

Truthfully, the possibilities of simple meals you can make in your slow cooker is practically endless. All it takes is a high-quality, premade sauce plus your protein of choice. Let it all cook together while you go about your day, and dinner is served! Read on for a little inspiration to get you started, plus some ideas for sides and dessert. 

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BBQ Pulled Pork

The best way to make pulled pork is low and slow, which means that the slow cooker is the ideal method to achieve that tender, juicy texture you’re looking for. Trim the excess fat off of a 4- to 5-pound boneless pork butt or shoulder and season with salt and pepper. If you want to go the extra mile and get some crispy bits, you could sear your meat in a cast iron pan for extra flavor, but it’s not necessary if you want to skip having to clean an extra pan.

Place the pork in the slow cooker and cook on Low for 8 hours. Take the meat out and let it rest for 20 minutes, then shred with a fork. There will be liquid in the slow cooker that the meat gives off while cooking—if you strain the fat off with a mesh strainer and pour it back over the shredded pork, it will take the flavor to the next level.

Finally, return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and smother with your favorite bottled BBQ sauce: Carolina-style, sweet and sticky, it all works. Enjoy by the forkful, in sandwich form, or served up with a side of slaw.

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Credit: Jen Causey

Chickpea Tikka Masala

If you’re familiar with the fragrant wonder that is Tikka Masala sauce, it’s a delicious Indian spice combination that usually includes cumin, coriander, and Garam Masala in a tomato base. You can make your own, but picking up the sauce at the store along with a few cans of beans makes for an easy, filling, and economical vegetarian weeknight meal. Put the mixture over rice to soak up every last drop of flavor.

To make it, drain and rinse four 15-ounce cans of chickpeas. Dump in an 8-ounce jar of Tikka Masala sauce and cook on Low for 5 hours. Can’t find pre-made Tikka Masala in your local store? This recipe also works with jarred curry sauce or a similarly spiced simmer sauce.

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Buffalo Chicken

We love the flavor of buffalo chicken wings, but are always on a search for a healthier, easier option. This buffalo shredded chicken is the perfect alternative—all the flavor with none of the muss and fuss. Start with 6 or so skinless chicken breasts (aiming for around 2 pounds), and season them with salt and pepper. Arrange them at the bottom of your slow cooker in a single layer and add in 8 to 10 ounces of your favorite bottled buffalo sauce (my personal favorite is a no sugar-added version from Primal Kitchen). Set your slow cooker on Low for 3 hours, shred, and combine thoroughly with the sauce left at the bottom of the slow cooker. Serve the tender, spicy chicken on its own, on top of a buffalo chicken salad, or in lettuce cups topped with blue cheese for a classic flavor combination.

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Credit: Greg DuPree

Applesauce

Many applesauce recipes call for sugar, but it’s really not necessary. Apples are incredibly sweet, especially if you go for the local, in-season varieties. All you need to make this healthy, subtly-sweet side dish (or dessert!) are apples and lemon juice. For a little something extra, throw in a few cinnamon sticks or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. My favorite apple varieties for applesauce are Fugi, Cortland, or Empire, but any variety will do. Just know that if you choose a tart apple, like a Granny Smith, your end result won’t be quite as sweet. 

To make the applesauce, peel and core about 3 pounds of apples, then cut them into roughly 1-inch chunks. Throw them into the slow cooker with half a cup of water, a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Give the mixture a stir, and then set the slow cooker on High for 4 hours. When it’s all done, you can either leave it as is for a chunky applesauce, or puree with an immersion blender. Pack into containers for easy snacks, serve over latkes, or alongside pork tenderloin and red cabbage.

Churros with Chocolate Sauce
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Chocolate Fondue

Is there a bigger crowd pleaser than chocolate fondue? We think not. After all, what could be better than dipping chunks of pretty much anything into a steaming pot of gooey, melty chocolate? And if you have a slow cooker, it’s beyond easy to whip up this delectable creation from scratch. Just combine 12 ounces of dark or milk chocolate chips (or a combination) with 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in your slow cooker. Add a pinch of salt and, if you want that optional third ingredient to kick things up a notch, add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mix. Cover and cook on Low for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Dessert is served.

For dippers, try chunks of pound cake, sliced fruit (strawberries, pineapple, and bananas are all fab choices), marshmallows, and pretzels. Keeping some thin skewers handy will save hands from getting too messy in the process. Want to take it to the next level? Serve your melty chocolate alongside churros.