Years ago, the walk-in pantry was essential for storing
the bounty of summer's harvest from canned tomatoes to peaches and
vegetables. Today's kitchens rarely boast enough space to accommodate such
storage. In fact, the space is becoming less with all the new gadgets, and
only stocking one or two week’s worth of food. A trip back in time
would show different levels of stored food at different times of the year. In
late September or early October you would find a years supply of food in most
pantries. Compared to the six months supply you would find in the same pantry
in March. Maybe a little more, because most families made sure they had
Today this is not true, and it is hard to even fit a months worth of food in
our kitchen. One could not even imagine trying to fit a years
supply of food in the kitchen. Very few homes built in today’s market
have a pantry, and the ones that do are half to a quarter the size of the
ones of the fifties. This does not take into account that the pantries of the
fifties had already shrank, and were half of what
they were fifty years earlier.
How did this happen? Why do we keep less than a week’s supply of food?
When a few generations ago we kept at least a years supply. It can all be
said with one phrase, “Just in time supply.” Most everyone has
fallen into this thinking. Stop by the store and pick up something for dinner
and a gallon of milk. On payday buy what you think will last until the next
payday. In addition, giving no thought to what if it doesn’t last, or you
forgot something. It doesn’t matter the store is only a few blocks
away, and you can pick it up when you need it.
What we have done, is turn the store into our pantry. This has made us
reliant on the system, and we are doomed to fail the moment it does. Most
people have lost the knowledge to render and process their own food, and an
even larger percent can’t cook unless it comes out of a box or can.
Even though a pantry makes it possible to stock up on frequently used items,
take advantage of sales or promotions, or simply cut down on the necessary
trips to the supermarket. All of which saves time and money, but people
don’t think of it that way. In fact, most people think it takes more
work and time to keep a pantry, when just the opposite is true. Whether or
not you buy things one at a time or twelve at a time, it takes the same time
to put away.
However, you save the extra trips to the store. Most people tend to think it
cost more to shop this way, but the opposite is true. You might be spending more
at one time for something, but if you buy it on sale, and save 30¢ a can,
that means you have saved over $3 on a case of 12 cans. In reality, you can
save quite a bit this way, and not be forced to buy things that are not on
Is it worth saving a few dollars to try to accommodate all this stuff?
Let’s look at how we got here, the key words were, “Just in time
supply.” To put it more simply, stores only have 72 hours of stock on
hand, or three days worth of goods. This is under normal shopping conditions,
and not when people are panic buying. If you doubt this, just look at what
happens to a store the day before a hurricane. You will find almost every
shelf is empty, and things like bottled water, candles, and batteries are the
first to go. Another good example of this happening is when, Johnny Carson as
a joke announced that there was a shortage of toilet paper. That word spread
like wild fire, and every store was emptied of toilet paper the next day. It
took two weeks for the supply chain to catch back up with demand, and it was
all from a joke.
This is no joke, the, “Just in time supply system,” is very
fragile and small things can disrupt it. Something major could create
problems for weeks, and in a country where prices are controlled by demand.
We are sure to see a spike, and this would turn your pantry into an asset.
Hopefully this has got you thinking, and will help you to see the good in
having a pantry.
(Note: One of the reasons pantries have gotten smaller over the years is
family size. Even with less people in the average family, it does not account
for having no pantry at all.)
With love from our home to yours Joe
Author of The Back
Joseph A. Hughes