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Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Posted by lori_inthenw (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 20:17

It seems to be really important to a lot of people, so I am just trying to figure out if I'm missing something. I assume that a lot of it has to do with different lifestyles and different ways of cooking, but I was curious to know if anyone else thinks like I do. This will be a retirement house for 2 people. We both cook, but don't eat a lot of pre-fab packaged food. On the other hand, we don't generally grind our own grain for flour, either. Also DH does the grocery shopping and he goes at least 2x per week because he likes things fresh. We've always just stored our food in the cabinets. A few cans down below, the cereal on an upper shelf, we do have one ridiculously narrow pantry cab that just barely holds the jars of beans and grains we use. Baking supplies are in their own area, flours below, small stuff above. Abundant spice storage on narrow racks inside upper doors and one whole cab near stove with oils and vinegars. I look at kitchens with huge pantries and I just wonder what I would keep in them. Of course, any space we have would likely get filled up with something! Just wondering if anyone else manages or prefers to live without significant pantry space.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Family size and habits.
Clearly you don't need a large pantry; 2 people, shop 2x a week.
My sis in law couldn't live without her large walk-in pantry. But she has 4 kids. You should see the size of her fridge/freezer, too!


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I am putting a very small pantry area in. There is just the two of us here. The kitchen that we renovated had a much larger pantry with deep shelves. Things seemed to just get pushed to the rear and we ended up filling up the space with anything but food items. I think this will work just fine for us and our lifestyle.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I thought I wanted a pantry, then I realized the current one houses big misc stuff on top, mixing bowls/paper goods on the next and soda, cooking wine, oil on bottom. I only had half or so holding food. What I really needed was more storage, which I hope I added. Still not 100% sure where the food is going, I might swap out the utility closet for the pantry, or use the pull out, or maybe the cabinet next to the oven.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I buy when items are on sale, and I buy a lot at one time. We are just now finishing up last year's corn on the cob that we bought from the farmer, then froze. I don't buy a lot of boxed stuff, but do buy canned goods when on sale.
I don't use enough flour to keep it on my shelf. I keep it in my freezer. Peke


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I think it depends on how far you are from a good grocery store and also if you eat out a lot - that sort of thing.

We will be 15 miles from the nearest decent grocery store when we are in our new house. Sure, there's one in our small town, but the prices are kind of high. Also, the roads can be kind of bad in the winter - I don't like driving on the ice. This will be our middle age/retirement home - really just the two of us. So - I will get major groceries ever 2-3 weeks, and a few things at our local grocery store when necessary.

We will have good storage in our kitchen (not a traditional pantry, I guess) and extra storage in our utility room. We also got a largish refrigerator/freezer and have a separate small freezer.

I do think it saves some money to be able to take advantage of good prices when you see them. Right now we live in an apartment until our house is built; it kills me to have to buy stuff only when we need it, not only when it is on sale and I can get extra...we just don't have room for extra food here. :-(


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Good points. Our house won't have a lot of bedrooms, either, so it's not like its next occupants will be a family of ten or anything (unless they plan to stack their kids like cordwood). This house will be on an island, but there is a decent grocery store 7 miles away. We'll have a freezer in the garage, and shelving there that could be used for any bulk non-perishables, in case island life sends us more in that direction. I guess I'm deciding that everything doesn't have to be at my fingertips in this kitchen. Plus there is cheaper storage elsewhere!


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Currently, when we stock up on food items, they go on shelves in the laundry room, in the basement. One of my goals for our upcoming remodel is to get all the food in the kitchen. There isn't really a pantry (certainly not a walk-in), but a lot more storage space than before. What I refer to as "pantry cabinets" on my drawings will probably hold more small appliances than food, along with cookbooks, and things like my oversized purse, which now resides on a chair in the dining room. I have specified a cabinet as "purse"!


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

We have a very small pantry with a family of four. After cleaning out the pantry I decided to limit the amount of stuff I stocked up on.

We live within 2 miles of a major supermarket and I'm there 2 to 3 times a week anyway for milk and stuff.

It depends on your lifestyle and closeness to shopping but I grew up in houses without pantries so to me its no big deal to be without.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Pantry? I was lucky to have room for a dishwasher (which wasn't present in the kitchen pre-reno).

I would have LOVED to have one...but as Elaine said "I can't spare a square"...my kitchen is 10 x 11, and that was with stealing 6" from the dining room.

I say if you have room, go for it. It doesn't ALWAYS have to be used as a pantry, you CAN store other stuff there besides food.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

lori-I am planning on a decent sized pantry for our new build for a couple of reasons:

it's cheaper than adding more cabinets (so to clarify not a pantry cabinet but a framed in pantry with a door)

I hope to maximize the cabinets I do have by storing larger items in the pantry - crock pots, large serving platters, larger pots, items that aren't used regularly and the like.

In my current home there was little food storage and not a lot of cabinet space to start. ALL of our food was in a corner lazy susan - not fun, not fun at all. We did some updating and put in a pantry cabinet and that has helped immensely but I still have canned goods in the lazy susan - ugh! I can't find much in there. I go through it when I can and end up pitching a ton of expired can goods that get shoved to the middle. No squares to be spared either - the kitchen is around 10 x 11 as well. :(

We are a family of 4 with 2 growing boys that eat like they haven't seen food in days. :)

Thanks for posting this thread - it's helpful to see different view points - especially when you are in the planning mode!

Lisa


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I initially wanted a pantry cabinet, but I eliminated it to optimize my counter space. I have a 12" wide undercounter pullout with many of my pantry items and a 33" wide wall cabinet above that houses the rest. Cereals and snacks are in a shallow cabinet in the island and overflow (paper towels, cereal, etc) goes in a closet in the mudroom just a few feet away. I have four kids, including a teen-aged boy who runs several miles a day, and everything fits fine. We built the house for the day when there will only be two of us, and a huge pantry wouldn't have been the best use of space in our relatively small house.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

When I moved cross country I lived for 2 years in a condo with no pantry. I will never do that again! I don't care if it is a set of pantry cabinets or an actual walk in pantry. I recently purchased a home (with cabinet pantry space) but had passed on another home because it had no pantry area. My home is small (1500 square feet) and the grocery is less than 5 miles from my house, but I find that kitchen storage is just too important to me to pass on it. It is also complicated by the fact that I live in a part of the country with no basements - so there isn't an abundance of climate controlled "overflow" storage.

If you are thinking at all about resale, I think finding some kind of pantry space might be a good idea. You don't have to use it to store food right now, but someone else might want that food storage space.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I lived quite comfortable in our city home with a very small kitchen and very little space for food storage. But we were very close (walking distance) to the grocery store, in the summer moths the farmers market was right next door, and we had a variety store around the corner so when you were in the middle of cooking dinner and didn't have that one ingredient, you could run out.

Now I live 6 miles from the nearest grocery store out in the country, it is not that far to drive, but it is no walk like it used to be. But I do have a large yard and have taken up gardening. I like your husband like to eat fresh everything, so while I used to shop 2x a week for my groceries, now I grow most of them. A mere 5 years ago I would have told you pantry space was useless to you. Now I fill it with my own homegrown canned veggies, fruits, jellies, and jams. I wouldn't have seen that coming and if you asked me I would have probably laughed at you. So glad our kitchen was not done yet because I would have been scrambling for more space. As a matter of fact the first thing we completed in the re-new was the pantry so I could store my canned goods last summer (still working on the remodel of the rest of the kitchen).

My point is, you don't really know what you or the next person who owns your home is going to need 5 years down the road and it is going to cost way less to put in now rather than later (or in the resale cost of your house). So why not put in a small pantry and not take the chance of being out of space when you need it or deterring the perfect buyer later.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

We are just finishing up a kitchen update on our 10x11 kitchen. Good counterspace and not so much storage. We also have an 8 ft long by 10 ft tall pantry that makes the kitchen work really well. The pantry is in the laundry and it provides storage not available in the kitchen. Couldn't live without it!


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Also, just as a thought, since you mentioned that it is a retirement home for you, there may be a time when going to the grocery 2 times a week is no longer possible. There may come a time when you are dependent on someone else to take you to the store or to do the shopping for you. At that point you may have to store more food in order to be able to make it between grocery visits. I know none of us want to be in that position, but it does happen sometimes.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I guess I'm deciding that everything doesn't have to be at my fingertips in this kitchen. Plus there is cheaper storage elsewhere!

You can save a lot of money by planning for an efficient cooking area and putting most of your storage 'elsewhere'.

If we ever build the house we are planning, it has a "pantry" that is almost as big as the kitchen. We will not have any "pantry cabinets" in the kitchen area, just cabinets for the things we use every day. The pantry will have plain painted wood or white MDF shelving ... all the glamour of a warehouse.

Small town, bad shopping, and we tend to stock up when we shop because it saves gas.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I had a reach-in pantry closet in one home. I ended up using some of the shelves for my pots and pans because I had no good place to put them in a kitchen with no lower drawers and knees that cannot bend very well.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Okay, I don't care to run around looking like Chicken Little, but really! Having at least a two-week food and water supply at home is just basic common sense. Note that on average those in your town couldn't fend for themselves for even a week if our extremely unstable supply lines were interrupted. Then what happens?

Our entire economy these days is based on "just in time" inventory management, just one of many factors that could turn a serious disaster into a cascade of many that could interrupt delivery of food, water, and power to whole regions for weeks or months. There's no resilience built into these systems.

Those so-close and not-so-close markets being mentioned would be emptied within hours of realization that the problem was serious--by those carrying cash, of course. Then what?

Most of our governments at all levels are trying to fix and patch where they can in an era when nobody wants to pay for anything, but nothing they do will make adopting "just in time" for home inventory a wise decision.

Some very brief reading on the topic will be very enlightening. For just ONE of various possible taps to our dominoes, we know that right now people are working toward taking down regional power and communications grids in an attack that would make 911 look ridiculously amateurish. Literally. I'm curious which they're most interested in. How about power, water and communication to the entire western US--in high summer. Why let people think they're safe as long as they don't live in NYC? Over 16 million in just Southern California alone, 98 before noon, surrounded by desert and salt water...

Here is a link that might be useful: National Academy of Sciences report


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

We are about to move into a house with a shallow pantry closet and I am thrilled, though it won't all be for food. Commonly used food items will likely be stored close to their point of use, but I am excited to actually have enough room for the overflow / large items / a big tin of dog food if my family convinces me to get one. Plus all the assorted non-food items that are otherwise difficult to store: crockpot, large serving platters, our vacuum, bins of extra art supplies for the kids, etc. (we are on slab and our first floor doesn't have lots of extra storage space).

So basically I don't think an explicit food pantry is necessary, but sufficient general storage is, and a pantry closet is a relatively inexpensive way to provide it.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

How much cabinet space do you have?


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

i agree with what someone else said - utility shelves (in a utility room, natch) can be very inexpensive and also hold a fair amount of food/supplies. When our house is built (yeah!), I'm going to look on craigslist for basic utility shelving for our utility room. My dh refers to that room as the 4th bedroom (!), but I really consider it a convenient and inexpensive way to store food after a Costco run. I'll get open shelving so I can instantly see what we have/need.

In the actual kitchen, I store stuff that I use regularly (supplies and equipment); But I'm not going to waste space in those nice new cabinets with extra flour, etc.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I don't have a basement, I don't have an attached garage, and I don't have a pantry. YES!!! i WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A PANTRY! I would love a pantry large enough to store all (most) of my food items, cases of drinks, paper products, etc.

I have enough cabinet space, but some of the space is the deep, endless corner cabinets (top and bottom). Cabinets are hefty, sturdy, built-in-place birch plywood cabinets, perfect finish, very vintagy looking, so I guess they are keepers. I see white paint in the future (upon retirement).


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I totally see your side. I do my own canning during the summer so I have jars to store. I also grocery shop major every other month and just shop fresh every week to two depending on the time of year. The pantry stores all the food and extra appliances that aren't in regular use like the ice cream maker and my cake making supplies.


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I agree with glitter ... No pantry space would be a deal breaker for me. I have never seen such a thing as too much storage. : )


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Thanks for all who took the time to reply. It is helpful to see all the different ways there are to think about this. It is certainly a function of household size and habits, I guess that's why I asked. You can get used to things that are really inconvenient and then accidentally perpetuate them in the new design due to lack of questioning them.

We measured the cubic feet of cabs in the new kitchen and it is roughly what we have now, so it should work in terms of pure volume. We are fortunate to have quite a bit of storage in our detached garage, in other closets, and even in a crawl space that is sort of "root-cellar-like" for things that are rarely used. I guess we are odd in that we don't store beverages, or many cans or paper goods.

I agree we could do better on emergency preparedness-- in our location, the most likely disruptive event would be an earthquake, so yes, that needs addressing, but that stuff could be in the crawl space. There should also be adequate space in the mechanical room for a set of shelving for other stuff that we want in the house, but not at our fingertips.

As for the retirement home angle, this house will be on 5 acres on an island, so it doesn't meet most people's criteria for a place to live when older (although the retiree population is pretty significant). If we get too feeble to get ourselves to the store, we will have quite a few other issues to wrestle with. (I tell my husband we'll turn my art studio into an apartment for the Cabana Boy...)

As for resale, I'm hoping that is a problem for our heirs, not us, but of course you never know. There is never much inventory on an island this size, and everything for sale is idiosyncratic in one way or another-- our house will have many other quirks that would not make it a hit with anyone looking for a "normal" house.

My long way of saying that I think we'll have adequate places to keep everything, even though you will not find anything labeled "pantry" on our floor plan. Thanks for helping with my thought process.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Rosie, you are so right about having a supply of food and water, and if you are chicken little I am right there with you. The boy scouts said it well, "be prepared". Preparation for the unexpected is a necessity.

My recommendation is 6 months of food that doesn't need refrigeration or cooking in case there is a severe power outage that could last weeks or months. A plentiful water supply for the same amount of time. If there is anyway to keep a six month supply of any medications that you need to survive. Also a stock of medical supplies like hydrogen peroxide, bandages, bandaids, aleve, aspirin. Sanitary needs and toiletries. Flashlights, copious quantities of batteries, matches, and candles.

Remember that cash is king. Everyone should have a stash of ready cash on them. In a power outage there will be no mac machines operating and with no money and little food you can get into trouble quickly.

Remember it doesn't take just an act of terrorism (though that danger is ever present), it could be an act of nature. Just ask a Katrina or Sandy survivor how much easier their lives would have been post storm if they had some of those supplies on hand..

Forgive me for the long post but please take action to prepare yourselves and your families.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Especially since stocking up, whether the basic 2 weeks some agencies are trying to coax people into, or more, is so easy. It requires no sacrifice, no extra expense. I just picked up some 12-packs of veggies at Sam's Club. They stay in their plastic binding and get set on the shelf under the ones purchased before. A couple 20-pound bags of rice stored in a seal-top plastic bin against rodents will last indefinitely, for years. Put one in the garage with the Christmas ornaments and forget about it.

Thirst is the emergency, though, that drives people quickly from their homes in search of water. When the power goes down, backup generators in many places will keep the water flowing for a while, but backup generators have a shockingly high failure rate (as much as 20-30% from being old and sitting around unused too long); and if the power doesn't return before long, those that are working will stop anyway. A crawl space sounds great for bulky water bottle storage, BTW.

Here is a link that might be useful: CDC, water


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

a pantry would have been wasted on us. i buy very little in prepackaged food and what i do buy is easily stored in just two cabinets. my kitchen is very large and while i certainly had more than enough space for one, i don't have the need. everything we eat is fresh and the only staples i keep on hand are pasta and rice and select canned items (which i have allocated two drawers for). even the full size, stand alone freezer is a bit large as i don't freeze meat. i shop only 1x per week. i know lots of GWs love their pantries but i don't really get what's being stored in there, or at least why so much of it. but to each his or her own!


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

sorry for the double post!

This post was edited by kateskouros on Thu, Jun 6, 13 at 18:17


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

What do I store in our pantry? Extra flour, sugar, etc - baking supplies. Extra canned stuff - we don't use a whole lot of it, but some canned stuff, like tomato sauce, is useful. Packaged soups. Cereal (my dh eats cornflakes every morning). Paper products - TP and paper towels. Extra cleaning supplies. We have an extra freezer - I freeze fruit and veggies - we grow a lot and I also buy it at the farm stands.I plan on starting to freeze milk this year. I prefer to freeze stuff rather than can it, so the freezer gets used!

I'll be using our pantry/utility room storage more when we move to our new house since we'll be farther to affordable grocery stores than we were when we lived in our old house. When I go to the city, I'll mostly get stuff when it's on sale - buy 3 extra bags of flour if I see it at a great price, for instance.

I also store extra kitchen equipment in the pantry - I have a food dehydrator that I store there, also canning supplies (I *do* can jelly).

The pantry is my warehouse, I guess! I keep daily supplies in the kitchen, when we're running low on baking powder (for instance), I grab another can from the pantry, where I probably have at least 3 more cans - that I got on sale - stored.

We don't have a pantry right now. It's temporary, thankfully.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

No pantry here either, we cook from scratch almost every meal and I bake on a weekly basis, not only our breakfast goods but our breads. I don't shop at Costco or BJ's. There are 3 of us in the family plus a cat, fish, 2 beehives and 8 chickens.
I used to have most of our extras such as the extra bag of tortilla chips, extra wraps (plastic, foil), paper towels, some small appliances, in the utility room.
When we redid the kitchen we added the equivalent of 5 more cabinets I believe. Tried to do a pantry but there was no room. So the current set-up allowed me to move most everything into the kitchen except for once a year items like LARGE picnic platters, extra plastic containers that I use to store chicken stock, etc.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Suburban, we have chickens too. How easy is the bee keeping job? DH bought me supers and all the paraphanelia that goes with it but I am not sure I can deal with beekeeping. One grandson is very fearful of bees.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

i have a 36" pantry now and when i remodel, its gone! i hate it, it is a black hole for food and we cannot see what we have up top. the roll out shelves are a mess and come off their runners plus it is taking up precious counter space. i like storing things in cabinets better and i am going mostly drawers to put things in and not have them fall off the shelf. plus the kitchen cabinets pantries are expensive, over 1k easily.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Holly, beekeeping is harder than keeping chickens but WAY more interesting. I LOVE it despite its inevitable frustrations. It is a time sensitive hobby though so if you can't do something when it needs to be done, then you'll be too late. Plus, you always end up spending more money on something. Always!
My suggestion is to do a solid amount of reading and take a class (or two). If you need any reading suggestions, I'll be happy to share.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I have lived in homes with a good sized pantry, a very poor sized pantry (one upper cabinet), and am now living in a rental with a somewhat smallish closet that has good size but is extremely useless because of the depth and funny shape.

In my next house we will have a walk-in closet/pantry because we are not going to have any uppers. The pantry will also store my (admittedly) large collection of plates, cloth tableware, and glasses. We love to entertain and I have about 5-6 sets of different dishes and tablecloths that I use for dinner parties depending upon the season and occasion. Most of these I inherited from a grandma who loved dishes :)

Also, since I cook quite a bit, I find I need so many different ingredients--I have five different kinds of flour alone (regular, self-rising, wheat, almond, rice) which I use for different recipes.

Have lived with small pantries and was tortured--can't live without a big one that can "hide" everything behind a closed door.


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Thank you Suburban. I am hoping to retire in the next 2 to 4 years. Beekeeping will be much easier when I have more time. My business keeps me working 5 days a week 51 weeks a year so it seems reasonable to wait.

I love raising chickens. We have 17 hens and a rooster who is a mean old bugger. We keep threatening to send him off to freezer camp if he doesn't mend his ways!


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

I'd love to have a rooster, but I promised my suburban neighbors no roosters. I've decided when I do get one, I'm going to name him Gomez.


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Personally I've had 4 houses with, and two without. Prefer pantries as big as possible! :)

If anyone wants to look at "Other People's Pantries" there is a whole website devoted to pictures of them.

It IS interesting to see what everyone else stores!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Perfect Pantry


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RE: Does anyone else just not bother with a pantry?

Good luck Suburban. Our rooster is a bad to the bone meanie but he sure is protective of his girls. If he sees a hawk he gets his girls up to the pen and stands guard in front of it.


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