To make ahead: Soak beans and prep ingredients for Step 1 up to 1 day ahead. Prepare Step 2 just before turning on the slow cooker.
Equipment: 6- to 7-quart slow cooker
Tips: Soaking dry beans before slow-cooking ensures creamy results. Place in a bowl, cover with at least 2 inches of cold water and soak for 12 to 24 hours. In a hurry? Place beans in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
3 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 1 1/2 lean meat, 2 medium-fat meat, 1 fat