1. Carefully remove the lid from the crock by lifting it straight up then over. This will help prevent much of the condensation running back into the dish which just dilutes the sauce consistency and flavor.

2. If the sauce or gravy is too thin, remove the lid from the slow cooker the last 1/2 hour and turn up the heat to try to thicken it. You can also add instant potatoes to thicken the sauce.

3. Spray the crock lightly with non-stick spray, olive oil or vegetable oil to prevent the dish cooking or burning onto the sides of the crock.

4. Dry herbs and spices can lose their flavor when cooking so long, if possible–try adding them the last two hours before the meal is ready to help keep the flavor. Use fresh herbs when possible, these can be added first thing since they’ll hold their flavor better when cooking for hours.

5. You can cut cooking time in half by cooking on High instead of Low, but cook according to directions whenever possible since the recipe results might differ. Meat may not be as tender.

6. Trim off as much of the fat on the meat as you can as well as remove the skin from chicken, this helps prevent the fat melting into the sauce.

7. Choose cheap cuts of meat where possible since the meat turns out quite tender when cooked slow. Slow cooking is a great opportunity to economize.