When searching for a new house, most people have a list of ‘must-haves’.
Maybe you want a large garden, perhaps an open plan living space, or a certain number of bedrooms. Top of our list when we were looking for our current house was a downstairs toilet. We would be potty training at some point after all, and knew that a downstairs toilet would be a definite bonus (although admittedly it would never have prevented the George Foreman Grill incident).
We never got our downstairs toilet in the end, but it didn’t matter. Because our (slightly well-worn) 1940s house has something much more wonderful. Something I’d never even considered before. Something that now, I would not be able to live without. If you’re a parent and currently house-hunting, I recommend you scratch whatever is at the top of your ‘must-have’ list and replace it with this:
So a… err… big food cupboard?
Well, yes. Ostensibly, it’s just a big food cupboard, but hear me out. You see, pantries are highly underrated. A pantry is not simply a large storage cupboard. It is an essential feature that every parent should have in their kitchen.
Let me explain.
1. It’s a walk-in food wardrobe
Ok, there’s no getting away from the fact that a pantry performs its intended function pretty well. It is that ‘cool dark place’ where we’re told to store our non-perishables. It is the tinned food equivalent of a walk-in wardrobe and is often big enough that with decent shelving, you could easily Brexit-proof your kitchen by using it to store a good six months-worth of baked beans, tinned potatoes and Fray Bentos pies.
Winner winner chicken dinner (in a tin, obvs).
2. It’s a great place to store your valuables
Well, not your valuables in the conventional sense, but don’t be fooled into thinking a pantry has no other purpose than the storage of tinned tomatoes and bags of pasta.
If your kitchen is anything like ours, you’ll have a dedicated snack cupboard for biscuits, sweets and crisps. On the face of it, this seems like a good idea, but do you really want your children and partner having easy access to all the good stuff? What if you had a secret place far back on the highest shelf in the pantry to keep that massive bar of Dairy Milk and ALL the tubes of Pringles? Get yourself a house with a pantry, and you can use the Pom-Bears and bourbons in the kitchen cupboard as a decoy, while you keep the chunky KitKats, Twixes and your fancy hand-cut salt and vintage red wine vinegar crisps out of sight and out of reach. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
3. It’s a secret eater’s paradise
It’s all well and good hiding your treats, but as all parents of young children know, eating a snack in peace during daylight hours is nigh on impossible. Unless of course, you have – you’ve guessed it – a pantry. Because as well as being a place to hide your snacks, the walk-in nature of a pantry means that it is the perfect place to gorge yourself on Double Deckers and Kettle Chips, away from prying eyes. Needing that chocolate fix? A simple utterance of ‘I’ll just get a tin of beans’ will give you the perfect excuse to pop into the pantry, pull the door to and grab yourself a few M&Ms. Make a couple of quiet exclamations of ‘Now, where did I put them…?’ and you can indulge yourself with all the chocolate you like, completely alone, and no one need be any the wiser.
4. Let’s cut to the chase: A pantry is essentially a parent’s panic room
All the above points are great benefits of having a pantry, but as every parent with a pantry has already realised (and if you haven’t, have a word with yourself) , the best thing about this highly underrated cupboard is that essentially, you have a ready made, built-in panic room.
It may have been sold to you as a store cupboard, but for those moments when your patience is about to expire, screaming into a towel is no longer cutting it and you need to make a speedy exit before your sanity beats you to it, the pantry will always be there, inviting you in with it’s stockpiled tins, secret snacks, and ALL the gin and wine. Step inside, turn on the light and close the door. Eat and drink yourself into oblivion and no one need know you’re there.
Until the rest of your family realise that they’ll have to fend for themselves and decide that tonight’s dinner will be beans on toast, that is.
Do you have a pantry? Ever used it as a personal panic room? What house feature could you not do without as a parent? Let me know in the comments.