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The state of the pantry

The state of one’s pantry is not often discussed. I don’t bring it up for fear that if my friends’ pantry experiences don’t line up with mine, our relationships will be forever changed. But, I can no longer keep these pantry thoughts to myself, and I ask that if you’ve never experienced pantry misery to refrain from commenting because like any other sort of misery, pantry misery loves company.

My years of experience have proven that the pantry is indeed complex. It appears as a simple shelved structure, but what goes on in there during any given week is mysterious, moody –a weekly drama that unfolds before our eyes (because the kids never shut the pantry door).

We do the weekly shopping, come home and put everything away. The cereal and cracker boxes are lined up. Canned goods are all facing the same way and grouped by contents. Pastas are organized by shape. And the chips? Well, they never last long anyway, so it really doesn’t matter where we put them. And when we are done, we are so pleased with our pantry’s appearance that I, with great hope, proclaim something like, “Now that’s a pretty pantry; let’s keep it this way. Everyone put things back where you found them and we’ve got this!”

Then, the metamorphosis begins.

Perhaps my pantry proclamation is not specific enough, because my intense pantry study this week revealed some bad habits that may stun some, horrify others.

You’ve been warned.

Day 1: I observed a couple of Goldfish crackers on the pantry floor.

Day 2: Some boxes were put back in the wrong places. At least one is empty and another has just 2 ½ crackers that escaped the inside bag and are sitting stale at the bottom of the box.

Day 3: The plastic wrap box is placed on top of the canned goods. At least one snack bag is not folded and clipped shut. Someone still doesn’t know how to open the granola bar boxes. And, the rice is now in the cereal box line up.

Day 4: Who put the can of black beans on top of the now smooshed bread? A cereal box is on its side. Rice and Goldfish are swimming together on the pantry floor. Someone tried to hide their favorite snack behind the surplus of peanut butter jars –one of which has a convenient tasting sample on the outside of the jar.

Day 5: The canister of oatmeal fell on me when I opened the door. The open bag of quinoa is in an empty fruit strip box. Wait. What? The jam from the fridge was put on the canned goods shelf. Cereal boxes are on the pantry floor. Some kibble has joined the bits of rice and Goldfish crackers also on the pantry floor. The tortilla chips were left open and they’re stale. A tall person put the pistachios that we eat daily with the stash of extra condiments on the top shelf. Hmm, let’s play what doesn’t belong?

And on the morning of Day 6: My son opens the pantry door and says, ”Sheesh, it’s like a black hole in here. He looks perplexed as he quickly shuts the door (because HE NEVER SHUTS THE DOOR). My daughter opens the door and says, “Hey, where are my granola bars? And, yuck! This bread is moldy!” My husband takes one look and says, “I think I’ll grab something to eat at work.”

And finally, when everyone leaves and I’m getting ready to start working, I pour a cup of coffee and head straight to my secret stash of dark chocolate. I continue with the day, avoiding the pantry at all costs, and look forward to Day 7 when the pantry is once again pretty, at least for a little while.

–Melissa Jablonowski

Melissa Jablonowski is a mother of two who writes about midlife, motherhood and more. She, like Erma, also firmly believes, “When humor goes, there goes civilization.”


Reflections of Erma