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Friday, February 3, 2023
ArlingtonOpinion‘Old School’ column: Waste not, want not

‘Old School’ column: Waste not, want not

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by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette

My kids think I’m the cheapest person on the planet.

I may be a teeny bit frugal, but certainly not cheap. “Cheap” implies an unwillingness to part with money. I merely like to get my money’s worth out of what I spend.

No, I didn’t live through the Great Depression, but I had parents who did and I heard plenty about it. Enough to know that “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “a penny saved,” etc., etc.


For us frugal types, wasting food is a cardinal sin. In my book, it’s right up there with not wearing your mask at the grocery store or cheating on your taxes.

The other day, after an extra glass of wine, my daughter confided, “You know, mom, Tad and I snicker that you and dad will eat anything.” I complained to my 95-year-old neighbor and she said, “My kids say the same thing! In fact, when they visit, they go through my pantry and throw out ‘expired’ things!”

We clucked a while about these spoiled adult kids who don’t know want, even though we’re the ones who made sure they didn’t.

To all those wasteful Millennials/Gen-Xers, I say, “Those are ‘Best By’ dates, not ‘Use By’ dates.” And to put my mouth where my money was, I created the Best by Date Contest, of which I’m the reigning champ.

My neighbor, Liz, took an early lead when she opened and ate the contents of a can from 2019. But I totally left her in the dust when I ate dried soup, dated July 13, 2013, and I’m still alive to tell about it!

Liz has conceded defeat, in return for my promise not to gloat too much.

Here’s my best coup to date. In the back of my pantry, I found dry ingredients in a decorative mason jar and a recipe for molasses cookies, given to me by another neighbor when I threw a welcoming party for her. I checked the tax records; she arrived in 2003!

Sooo, I made the cookies, which were delicious, gave some to Liz and the rest to my daughter and her family. And here’s the best part. I waited till after they had eaten them to share the “vintage.”

Score one for Old School frugality.

A resident of Arlington for 40+ years, Carol McEwen sells real estate when she’s not imparting deep insights or sparkling wit in this column.
You can reach her at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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