Culinary no-no #745


If you’re like me you’ve seen every episode of M*A*S*H at least a thousand times and love watching them again and again and again.

During the series’ 6th season, the episode “Tea and Empathy” aired on January 17, 1978. Wounded arrive and some of the patients are from a British unit, commanded by Major Ross, played by the wonderful character actor Bernard Fox. Ross insists that the 4077th doctors are “molly-coddling” his men, and that they are ready to return to active duty.

Hawkeye tells Ross to leave. Later, when Ross returns to visit his men Hawkeye sees that Ross is laughing with his men, as they’re all reading letters from home and telling stories. Ross now seems like one of the guys, and his soldiers seem in high spirits.

Ross tells Hawkeye that if he acts like his wounded men are actually fine, they know subconsciously that they’ll be okay, which helps speed their recovery. Ross admits it might seem callous, but as Hawkeye can see, it seems to work.

Hawkeye admits Ross was right, but points out that another British condition – giving wounded soldiers tea – leads to peritonitis. Ross says he’ll mention it to his superiors but regretfully says:

“But if it was anything but tea.”

I’m reminded of that memorable episode after reading  a recent column by Mary Hunt, the founder of, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”

In her column Hunt writes, “Perhaps you’ve noticed the cost of nearly everything is going up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, the agency that calculates the U.S. inflation rate, is predicting a very high inflation rate for 2021. Our annual inflation rate at the end of May was running at 5 percent. That is the highest rate since 1981, when the average for that year was 10.3 percent. Here’s the deal: We can either stick our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing has changed, or we can get smart and fight back.”

Some of Hunt’s tactics:

Add a pinch of table salt to a new container of milk when you first open it. Shake well to mix. Because salt retards the growth of bacteria that makes milk turn sour, just a pinch of salt will increase the useful life of milk by days, even weeks.

Always add one can of water more than the instructions state for concentrated fruit juice.

Drink water.

Consider generic brands.

Keep a notebook that lists the prices of regularly purchased items at various stores.

Shop midweek. On Wednesdays, most supermarkets reduce prices on food that is about to expire, according to several studies.

Another Mary Hunt column of late examines cutting your grocery bill…in half.

When the standard 12-week sale rotation happens, you need to buy enough to last your family that long. If you buy only one week’s worth, you will be forced to pay (gasp!) full price the next time you need it because you didn’t buy enough.

Let me make it more clear with an example. Say your family eats two boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats every week. The regular price for Honey Bunches of Oats is $4.19 a box, but when you (pun alert) sail through this week’s flyer, you see it is on sale for only $1.99 a box—more than 50 percent off the regular price! Instead of buying only two boxes like you normally would for one week, you buy 12 boxes—enough to last your family for the next six weeks at less than half the price you would normally pay.

The goal is to build up your own mini grocery store in your pantry, which you can then use to plan your family’s meals.

And now for what many might consider the big no-no.

Eat Less Meat

Going vegetarian just a couple of times a week could save you as much as $1,000 a year—a dollar figure that is going up, up, and up! Meat, fish, and poultry costs usually account for a significant portion of people’s grocery bills, so cutting out even a little will make a big difference in time.


Bernard Fox

But if it was anything but meat.


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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #744

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