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Suburban Island

Pantry Power
Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005, 10:22 p.m.

QUESTION: Pantry or larder?

WHAT I LEARNED: Shop before you fly.

Tomorrow, I will be flying to Dallas, Texas for work. I have not packed. I do not even have my suitcase out yet. I am trying to get the household ready for my departure and myself ready to go at the same time. I spent some time this afternoon stocking up on the foodstuffs for the family. Some people call this their pantry but my mother calls it her larder. My mom is a big believer in the larder. Her larder is like an aisle in the supermarket. Mine is a few shelves in the laundry room. I have the larder gene but not the larder luxury plan.

In the summer of 2003 I answered a question on a website related to what I had in my pantry at the moment. Here’s what I wrote then:

Having teenagers - I believe in having food that can be made in a hurry or late at night when mom has clocked out of kitchen duty as well as basic staples that can be used to put together a meal when the refrigerator and freezer are empty of the good stuff and no one wants to go to the store. That means lots of pastas of different sorts, Tuna Helper and tuna in the new packs that just tear open and are water-packed, Rice-a-roni, Mac & Cheese, Chef Boyardee lowfat raviolis, Campbells soups, Ramen noodles, pretzels, low-fat chips, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, salsa, jam, Ritz crackers, graham crackers, matzo ball soup mix, tea bags, back-up mayo, ketchup, A-I, barbeque sauce, and mustard, canned whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, lowfat brownie mix, canned frosting, chicken broth, baked beans, canned fruit, canned black olives, granola bars, Kraft grated parmesan cheese, Cup-of-Noodles, V8, honey, and vegetable oil. There's more but this is what sticks out the key components of the pantry. Oh yes, and of course, paper towels, and toilet tissue. Coke and diet coke as well as bottled water is in the house but that is kept elsewhere!

Here’s a picture of my pantry shelves this afternoon.

image by Suburban Island

Am I in a time warp?

Pasta is still king at our house, there’s not frosting though, or canned ravioli, or Cup-of-Noodles, or V8. There is tomato soup and lots of tomato sauce. We have Uncle Ben fever, peanut butter is a must, we like all Helpers, and we have a soft spot for Cheez-its and other reduced fat cracker products. You can’t see them but I do have tins of sardines, bags of salted pretzels, and lots of different sorts of tea. There are cases of soda out in the garage.

I do not think I am the only one with shelves of extra boxes, cans, and jars of food at the ready. I think between the supermarket aisle at my mom’s house and the empty refrigerator at the other extreme, there is a sea of little cabinets, shelves, and drawers all across the country stocked with family and personal food favorites - boxed, canned, or bottled. Do you have a pantry? What’s in it? What is your pantry anyway – shelf or room or a box under the bed? Do you feel smug when you grab a jar of spaghetti sauce or break out the chips or cookies without having to put a key in the ignition? I do.

My pantry represents a little something called maternal know-how and it comes as a result of endless requests for items not at hand and countless unexpected drives to grocery stores. Yes, I can fling open the door to my laundry room at any time and stand gazing at my lovely larder with an appreciative eye and a smug secure feeling welling up inside of me. It may snow tonight but we have enough pasta to feed a small army. We have enough popcorn, pretzels, and sodas to host an impromptu movie night. We have enough soup and comfort foods to feed a number of colds.

Yes, my family just might be able to fend for themselves for a few days. They have all had the requisite tour of the recently re-stocked refrigerator and larder shelves, have all acted suitably dazzled, and recognize that they’ll never be able to get away with saying – there’s nothing to eat in this house – over the next week with any degree of believability.

Now, where’s that suitcase?

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