What’s in your pantry right now? If you headed to the grocery store, would you know how many cans of corn you had in there? Would you stand in the baking aisle, wondering how much flour you had left at home, and then pick up another package “just in case”? Have you ever looked at the hodge podge in your pantry and wondered “What the hell am I going to do with 3 jars of stuffed olives”?
Naw, me neither. (insert large does of sarcasm here)
I even wrote about this phenomenon back when I started the blog, and I asked folks to come up with some interesting options for using some of those items. Crowd-sourcing dinner is what I was doing! And I had some fun suggestions. But I still had to be the one to use up some of that stuff. The pantry still taunted me with ever-more surprises every time I looked in there.
Military spouses know this better than most. We have had more pantries, cupboards, closets and shelves dedicated to storage of our various dried goods and spices than we can count. Each time we move, we have to figure out how to shoehorn our current 8 boxes of canned goods into the new kitchen’s pantry that amounts to a shoe box. Need to find the breakfast cereal? That’s in the former coat closet in the hall that we turned into a pantry. Looking for that random bottle of balsamic vinegar you bought at a specialty market? You might get lucky and find it on a shelf in the laundry room. We get creative because we HAVE to, never really having that “perfect” pantry or kitchen space because, let’s face it, we’ll be leaving it soon enough for another location.
I’m not complaining (well, maybe just a teensy-tiny bit), but pointing out that we are flexible and creative without choosing to be. It’s thrust upon us by the life we lead, and our surroundings tend to reflect that.
This is a really long rant about pantries thus far, isn’t it? But I swear I have a point to this. The point is that as some of us move from place to place, our pantry items become a little odd, and sometimes items move more times than they probably should. I admit to having toted around a can of franks & beans that I bought at a British commissary 4 years prior because I thought the name was funny. I think it’s safe to say that one could be tossed.
But what about the shelves of stuff that are still there when we find out that the military is moving us for the ump-teenth time in as many years? Yes, the canned and dry goods that haven’t yet been opened can be moved. But what about stuff that you just know you don’t want to have to lug to the next station? Or what about the insanity that is about to ensue for the family in the coming weeks? How excited will you be to dream up a meal on the fly?
That’s where your pantry items (no matter where you have them stored) can become your best friend. In a pinch, you can grab a few jars, cans and containers, and have a hot meal ready for the whole family in a stress-free manner. How do I know? Well, even though we are not moving this time around, I still reach back to those meals that I learned to rely on during those harried times.
I’m embarking on a new component to the blog. While I am hopeful it will benefit anyone who needs to revisit their pantry and use up what they have, I am paying homage mostly to the military family who has to pack it up and schlep it all with them every couple years. The folks who are “volun-told” where to move next (yes, “volun-told” is a thing in the military–ask around). Those of us who hurry up and wait to hit the ground running when told to do so. I want to give those of us in this rarified life just one more little leg up when we have to add “cleaning out the pantry and fridge” to the ever-growing list of things that have to be done before we hit the road–again.
This is The PCS Pantry. PCS stands for “Permanent Change of Station”, and for many of us, there have been oh-so-many of these events in our lives. Now if you’re not in the military, you also may up and move–from one house to another in the same town, or from one state to another. So consider it a Permanent Change of Scenery instead. Either way, I believe that we can all benefit from relying on our own pantry a little more so that we can waste a little less.
So as we say in the Air Force, “Off we go, into the wild blue yonder…!” Get ready to find new ways to use the stuff you’ve already purchased, and feed your family some fun new dishes in the process. PCS Pantry is rarin’ to go!
Want to get in on the action? Tell us a little about YOUR pantry in this short set of questions!
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