In defense of an over-stuffed pantry

 messy pantry

Every so often I go through my pantry, promising myself that I will be ruthless and get rid of all of the things I don't use, like that 1/8 of a bag of forbidden rice or those nori sheets that have been in my pantry for longer than I care to admit. (Also, how did I end up with five cans of sweetened condensed milk?) Despite this, the rice and the nori remain, albeit more neatly arranged. I am not alone in facing this dilemma. Epicurious Editor Anna Stockwell reports on coming to terms with an over-stuffed pantry

Stockwell wonders if her predilection has to do with her food-related job, but decides that she would still have an abundance of food even if she changed careers. One reason that she offers is that "Keeping my kitchen stocked makes me feel safe and calm and happy. Knowing that I have enough food on hand to instantly and easily cook several meals for up to six people at the drop of a hat makes me feel ready for  anything."

I empathize with Ms. Stockwell - to a point. While my pantry does contain more than an average amount of food, I have pared down over the years. I finally decided that I did not need to have every kind of nut known to mankind so I could bake any nut-filled cookie or pastry on a whim. I plan ahead a bit more now. And after having foods like brown rice get rancid, I realize that some things just don't keep, so I only buy enough for the recipe at hand. 

Like the author, I love to grocery shop, so it isn't a chore for me. Running out of something is a good excuse to return to the Asian market or spice store - just as long as I am not in the middle of a recipe! That's why it is important to always read your recipe before embarking on a cooking adventure. 

What about you? Is your pantry overflowing or do you prefer to have less on hand, either due to space constraints or personal preference? 

8 Comments

  • Jane  on  8/11/2017 at 11:42 PM

    I am a definite hoarder. I wish I could be more organized and use up what I have before it goes off. I don't go to specialist stores regularly enough so when I go I stock up and then a couple of years later find I have containers full of yellow split peas I have never used, I need to plan more and use what I have! OK, project for the fall is to empty my pantry.

  • PeggyB  on  8/12/2017 at 12:06 AM

    I am becoming less of a hoarder, now that I'm retired. When I worked sometimes getting to the grocery store wan't easy, especially during my single parent years. But, I still like having things on hand for when I have a sudden whim to make something.

  • hillsboroks  on  8/12/2017 at 4:33 PM

    I think every true cookbook lover is a bit of a pantry hoarder! After all you want to be able to go into one of your many cookbooks, find an exciting new recipe and start cooking. I have found that using EYB on a regular basis has actually helped me pare down my pantry quite a bit. Now I can search for ways to use up odd bits of ingredients that might have hung around unused way too long.

  • TrishaCP  on  8/13/2017 at 7:47 PM

    "I finally decided that I did not need to have every kind of nut known to mankind so I could bake any nut-filled cookie or pastry on a whim." Ha! Yeah, judging from my freezer, apparently I haven't decided that yet!!!!

  • mjes  on  8/13/2017 at 10:19 PM

    Pantry hoarder? Why the issue wouldn't even come up if I had a bigger pantry. Each variety of rice is essential as are the dozen hot sauces, the Sardinian honey or Italian pines bud syrup or the 3 pizza flours ... I mean how do I know what I might want for supper tonight? or the ethnicity of the next bean soup? or determine which brand of lobio seasoning I prefer? I do I want to test a new blend of flours for the flatbread to go with the soup? Yes, I am learning to use EYB to determine how I might use up the perishable oddities ... but so often they are optional based on the difficulty obtaining them. But I am getting better - I bought abbamele and remembered when buying cheese to get something compatible.

  • lgroom  on  8/14/2017 at 12:30 AM

    I no longer live in a big city, so I don't have access to everything I want. So when I do get to a decent store, I do stock up. But I think I'm actually more conscious about what I buy and actually use. I do miss whim shopping though.

  • annmartina  on  8/14/2017 at 3:48 PM

    Oi, I have at least two cupboard shelves that are just sweeteners: cane syrup, molasses, honey, glucose, coconut sugar, fine sugar, demerara sugar, granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugars, powdered sugar, Lyle's golden syrup, light and dark corn syrup, piloncillo sugar, golden rock sugar, pearl sugar, sugar cubes, dulce de leche, sweetened condensed cow and coconut milks, cajeta . . . then there's the Asian ingredients . . . and the flours . . . and the pantry items I bring home from travelling . . . I prefer to think of it as curated collection of ingredients, although not carefully curated.

  • darcie_b  on  8/14/2017 at 5:47 PM

    This reminds me, I am out of golden syrup...must replenish. The good thing about sweeteners is that most of them never go bad!

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