Saturday, July 1, 2023

Pantry tour

A couple weeks ago, I put up a post about canning mushrooms.

In that blog post, I happened to include an older photo of our pantry. This, oddly enough, garnered most of the comments.

Here's the other side of the pantry (again, an older photo):

The photos above were taken mere weeks after the pantry was built back in Jan/Feb 2021, so it's evolved quite a bit since then.

But ... considering the interest, would you like a pantry tour?

To begin, I invite you to watch its construction. The pantry was, literally, the first project Don did in our new (to us) home, and you can see how he built it here and here.

However two and a half years have passed, so the pantry has acquired more staples. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so – apparently – does a pantry.

Additionally, when Older Daughter moved back in with us, we combined our two kitchens. She brought along her personal store of food staples and spices. This inventory has since widened since she's taken over cooking duties for all of us. Accordingly, I rearranged the pantry to give her a great deal of dedicated shelf space.

Before we embark on the tour of the pantry, let's make one thing clear. Apparently there’s a trend on social media dubbed "pantry porn." This consists of photos and videos depicting meticulously organized pantries with everything neatly labeled and maintained (apparently it got a foothold during the COVID lockdowns). Organized pantries have become status symbols.


Our pantry is not, to put it mildly, like that. It's cramped and crowded and frankly a mess. But it's also well-stocked, and within the chaos Older Daughter and I know where everything is. That's all that matters.

Okay, let's begin. Here's what the pantry looks like today (compare that to the meticulous organization of the top photos taken just after the pantry was completed).

Originally the way I organized things was: canned meats, sauces, vegetables, and other savory items on the left; and canned fruits on the right. While I still (roughly) maintain that order, it's no longer set in stone.

Stepping inside, you can see the step stool in the corner We are a family of hobbits. This step stool is in constant use.

In the other corner is the spice rack, another section in constant use. Originally nothing was stacked in front of them, but (ahem) that didn't last long. The box with my pressure canner is on the left. The stacked buckets on the right have bread flour and pasta in them.

The high shelves are too high for me to reach without the step stool, so I store things up there I don't need as often: insulated food carriers, the turkey roaster, boxes and boxes of canning lids.

Plastic pitchers, some cleaning supplies, pre-popped popcorn (one of the parrot's favorite treats), and a jug of bulk croutons.

Fruit vinegar, extra plastic food-storage bowls, and a bag of gluten for bread-making.

These shelves hold mostly fruit: peaches, pears, apples (sauce, diced, and pie filling), raspberry and strawberry jam, blueberries, etc. On top the jars, I store large-but-flat plastic containers.

Fruits, teas, and a lot of miscellaneous stuff such as syrup, popcorn, raisins, cleaning supplies, etc.

Miscellaneous things like cornmeal, powdered milk, farina, raisins, syrup, cheese powder, etc.

Baking aids (flour, oatmeal, lard, shortening, peanut butter, etc.), spices, boxes of dirty rice (my weakness), matches, vinegar, and a box of miscellaneous canning lids and rings that are in constant use. Oh, and a few bottles of beer Don slipped in.

On the other wall, a lot of canned foods: corn, mushrooms, turkey stock, various soups, stews, and tomato sauces.

More veggies: peas, green beans, dry beans, lentils, carrots, dehydrated broccoli.

Some canned foods, but also a vast array of Asian and Mexican spices and staples Older Daughter uses in meal prep.

More canned food, mostly meats and pinto beans (for making refried beans). On the floor are two plastic totes where I store garden seeds.

A mishmash of jars of meat, a couple of frying pans (don't ask me why; we've always stored them there), some graham crackers, etc.

Canned chicken, jumbo boxes of Grape Nuts (which I love in homemade yogurt), a couple of spare dishtubs which are handy when the power is out and I'm washing dishes with stored water.

On the floor of both sides of the pantry are bulk quantities of such things as Asian sauces, vinegar, lemon juice, vanilla, some cleaning supplies, etc. This is also where Don keeps his cast iron Dutch ovens for breadmaking.

I also keep olive oil, baking powder, rice, and other bulk items on the floor.

Against the far wall is a cart Don made decades ago. It was originally a microwave cart, but now we use it for general-purpose storage: Boxes and baskets of potatoes and onions, overly large utensils, a box with things like aluminum foil and wax paper, etc. On the floor is a bag of dog food (left) and parrot food (right).

As you can tell, this is NOT an Pinterest-perfect pantry. Nor is it a museum maintained as a testimony to beautiful organizational skills. I don't have the time or interest for that kind of nonsense. Instead, the pantry is an in-home grocery store. It's also in constant flux, as a good pantry should be.

Because we have the pantry, we store no food whatever in the kitchen. Kitchen storage is dedicated to pots, pans, utensils, dishes, etc.

When he first built the pantry, Don made it so a door could be installed and opened inward (with the spice shelf behind it). As it turns out, we never needed a door. We did, however, hang a pretty curtain in front for times we don't want the messy pantry visible to visitors.

So there you have it, a tour of our pantry. It's not pretty, but it's well-stocked. I'll take that over "pantry porn" any day of the week.


  1. that is a 'working' pantry - what a pantry should be

  2. I would love to have a huge pantry like yours! It's strong and you don't have to worry about shelves collapsing. My house is small, not made for 2 yr supply of life supplies, so things are disorganized and stuffed in every nook and cranny, under beds, behind sofas, and non-food items on the porch in storage totes. All those "pretty pantries" waste space, are expensive and really don't hold very much. Your pantry rocks!!

  3. What's interesting about the pantry porn pictures is that it's mostly, if not all, processed food. It's easy to make pre-made food look pretty. I want the food on my plate (not my pantry) pretty and healthy. I feel sorry for the families that eat all that garbage.

  4. If there was a “Pantry of the Month” photo calendar yours would be the centerfold!

  5. Best Pantry Ever!