chilis, stews, soups...
I'll buy 5 links of Italian Sausage (20oz), cut it up, brown it and add it to white beans and chicken broth. I'm making a split pea soup right now with pieces of a whole ham I bought for $.99/lb.
1) brown a protein in a pan along with onion and garlic.
2) Transfer to slow cooker, add beans.
3) Cover with chicken stock.
If you want a red, chili type sauce add a couple of tbsps of tomato sauce during step one.
If you want a more traditional soup, dice celery and carrots and add during step 2
Build your flavors during step 1 with spices, deglaze the pan with wine, etc.
Chiffonade* kale and add it to the pot the last 10 minutes.
*Chiffonade is French for "roll leaves into a cigar shape, then cut into strips."