In the height of summer, most people have forgotten about their slow cookers. But my slow cooker never gets put into storage; I think of it as a year-round tool. (Don't miss these 7 tricks for better slow-cooking in your crock pot.)

For starters, it never stops being convenient. Just the way it warms you up after a day skiing, your slow cooker can deliver an easy, nourishing meal after a soccer game or a day at the beach. And no, you don't have to be eating beef stew in August. Recipes like Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions (pictured) are great for summer. Just top it with some cool and crunchy slaw and a tart pickle and you've got yourself the perfect summer meal. Or make meatballs in your slow cooker for a crowd-pleasing meal. (Try this recipe: Nonna's Spaghetti & Meatballs). Pair that with a salad and you can't possibly go wrong.

And who would argue that lasagna is a dinner only to be enjoyed in the winter or fall? What probably keeps most people from making lasagna in the summer is not wanting to turn their ovens on for a long period of time. Well, you don't have to. Because you can make lasagna in, you guessed it, your slow cooker! (Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna.)

So think outside the box and get your slow cooker back in the kitchen this summer.

Get the Recipe: Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions-Traditional pulled pork is barbecued, which gives it a smoky flavor. But the slow cooker happens to be the absolute easiest way to cook pulled pork-and you can get a hint of smoke by adding chipotle chile.