You can make that recipe on the stove. Also, you might want to check any thrift stores you have to see if they have slow cookers available.
I also tend to go to the store without any expectations. Not too long ago, we went to the grocery store and my husband wanted broccoli but it was $3.99/lb!! Last week, I was at Whole Foods and organic broccoli was $99/lb so I bought 5 lbs. He was pretty happy.
I've definitely been cooking a lot more dried beans lately as well which is cheap and I love millet which is generally cheap if you can buy it in bulk.
You can't out-exercise poor eating habits.