In medieval times there were several rooms devoted to food storage. They went by such names as pantry, larder, buttery and each stored a different type of food. Of course the larger a household them more storage you needed and on European estates the central hall or manor house had to store a lot of food.
Fast forward to our time and while pantries lost some favor the middle of the last century, they are getting popular again. However I remember as a kid going to visit my country relatives and they would have shelves and shelves of home-canned goods. My mother also always had a cabinet (or two or three) in the basement with canned goods. The chest freezer was another bulk food storage option, but pantry usually refers to shelf stable items, not things that require refrigeration.
There are real advantages to having a deep pantry. First let me say adding the work “deep” is to convey the thought that we are talking about more than a few days worth of food. Some of the advantages of “going deep” are:
- You can buy in bulk or when items are on sale to save money.
- Buy fresh vegetables when they are in season at a discount and can them yourself
- You have food on hand for unexpected events, everything from a bad storm to guest showing up you need to feed.
- You shouldn’t be “out of something” when you are preparing meals.
- Saves time by not needing to go shopping as often.
- You know prices are only going to go up over time.
As much as I wanted a walk in pantry off of the kitchen it just would not work in the house plan we ended up with. We did end up with a nice size pantry (think the size of a coat closet) in the kitchen, but our true pantry will be in the basement.
There is a certain sense of security of seeing a shelf full of canned or dry goods. You can also think of it as an investment, only it is something you can eat.
You do need a bit of organization so you don’t end up with some goods sitting on a shelf for years while others are there much shorter. My mothers started writing the date on all her canned and dry goods with a sharpie. You should also label any home canned goods. While I’m not sure how canned goods (either home or commercial) would “go bad”, but it can lose quality.
I remember as a child my Grandmother making what she called “potted meat”. This was canned meat that she floured and pan fried, and wow was it good. Hopefully by this time next year I will have a well stocked pantry.