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Last week I shared about my K.I.S.S. need.  It evidently struck a chord.  Not many shared their own stories, but more of you read that column than any other in recent months.

This week I decided to continue the theme and ask you all how you personally K.I.S.S..  I’m sure lots of you have some great tips on how to serve great, fast and healthy dinners while keeping things in budget.

Being the infinite couponing guru and planner-I make a list, check it twice, decide my route and take advantage of that certain store that loves to match prices.

Another thing I do is always make more of my dinners.  My DH would love to hit the fast food trail-but that’s not in our budget.  And with his current meds including some for high blood pressure and high cholesterol-his love of junk food will not ever be encouraged as long as he’s breathing.

This week I attended his quarterly thank you dinner.  His manager treats those who have topped the “charts” of sales to dinner.  When I arrived his cohorts wanted to know if I’d mind packing their lunches as well.

“We‘re jealous.  Steve comes in with his practically gourmet and healthy lunches while we run out to grab something from the Five Guys up the street.”

I simply winked and said, “Of course-just let me know your budget, send me a lunch box and I’ll be happy to include you in my endeavor!”

Trouble with that?  Even with my “wink, wink” I felt the vibe and the positive head nods as an answer that they would be thinking it over-FOR REAL.

Besides last week’s suggestions, here are some of my other handy hints:

Buy the best quality you can afford.  Buying that lunch meat that is infused with both water and salt do not make good healthy eats.  

Where to cheat?  Making muffins or smoothies?  You can use fruit that is on it’s last legs.  Same with soups/stews and the like. Once you put them in the pot-no one’s the wiser as to whether or not that celery stalk or other veggies are a bit limp.

Do not try that same trick with salads.  

You may not think so but using the bargain brand chocolate chips in your baked goods really does make a difference.  The taste is quite different.  Not as “chocolatey“.  But you can look for coupons and wait for sales!

Not long ago I found coupons for  any NestlĂ©’s chocolate chips.  I prefer the 70% version.  Then I waited for the “cycle” of sale prices in the local markets to include the baking staples.  I went in and with my club card and personal savings offerings there I wound up paying under $1 a bag.  I had several coupons-bought about 4 bags.

You don’t want to leave chocolate around too long or it does start to bloom.  That’s just not a great idea.

Take a serious look at what you use and don’t use.  If you still have a “family” to feed 24/7-see what you really eat and buy in bulk-WHEN POSSIBLE.  If you’ve shrunk down to serving up food for 2 except on “Sunday” dinner-don’t buy a 5 pound wheel of parmesan.  It’s lasts long, but not a life time!

We eat a ton of kale and spinach-but I do NOT buy a huge bag of both at the same time.  I switch it up.  Same goes for other favorites.

There’s a fine line between serving a requested dish and OD‘ING on it.

When in doubt-ask your family:  What are your favorites?  What are you craving this week?  Is there something you’ve really been wanting to try?

And the best thing we can all do when trying to simplify our lives?  DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.

Your turn-

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