My nephews love coming to visit from out of town.
“You have a happy pantry. My pantry is very, very sad in comparison,” my sister observed.
It’s true. I know exactly what she means. She has granola bars, pretzels, nuts, and dried fruit. I have those things as well, but who are we kidding, you put a granola bar and a Nutter Butter side by side, what are you picking to eat?
A house well-stocked with Oreos is by definition, a happy home. I believe it’s a God-given right for children to eat Oreo cookies, be they double-stuffed or mint. I know my healthier friends are rolling their eyes. They’ve heard this before.
My kids have the rest of their lives to worry about the effects of what they put into their body. What’s the harm in allowing them to be a bit carefree? Of course I want my children to eat healthy food and grow up to be healthy adults with good eating habits. I model that behavior most of the time. I exercise regularly too. My children do not have weight issues. They all seem to be tall and thin, like their father.
I confess to letting my kids be kids. I do their laundry. I make their lunches for school. I generally keep the house picked up. They will have their whole adult life to do these things. Don’t get me wrong – they have to be considerate, polite, and well-behaved. They clear their plates, help with the dog, clean up their rooms, do well in school. They help when I ask them. They are respectful of adults, myself included.
So should I be embarrassed to have a happy pantry? I think not. The joy of anticipation as the children enter the food mecca after I’ve gone grocery shopping to see what new treats have arrived is a fun activity for them. Are there the same old snacks? Or occasionally something new and enticing? Not just graham crackers and pretzels for this pantry. Cookies, chips, crackers, various and sundry treats. Savory as well as sweet abound.
My children take pride in our happy pantry. They like that their friends and family like coming to their house to hang out. The pantry, in addition to their sparkling personalities, is one of the reasons why. My father likes coming too – our Peppermint Patty supply is just the perfect cure for a sweet tooth.
The pantry is more than your typical kitchen pantry. It is the size of a small walk-in closet. Sometimes the children (and occasionally an adult) will go into the pantry and close the door behind them. This allows them privacy and the ability to focus. I try not to be the pantry police. As long as my children eat their fruits and vegetables, I am okay with their snacking. With a little supervision, they learn to monitor their snack intake. It is a skill they must develop when they go out in the world to shop and eat independently.
While I think of my pantry as a delicious destination, the pantry of my children’s dreams is out of town where my sister-in-law has an even happier pantry than mine. She has been known to stock full-size candy bars. Can you imagine? A regular 7-11 store. While I occasionally surprise the kids with mini-candy bars at months other than Halloween, I have not yet taken it to the next level.
Making delicious desserts using cereal and other pantry snacks has become a bit of a specialty of mine. Puppy Chow, Indoor S’mores, Rolo Pretzels. Not exactly gourmet, but the kids love it. An occasional treat for the kids which in turn makes me feel like mother-of -the-year. Win-win.
We have just wrapped up the holiday of Passover, where the pantry has been emptied of its regular contents and replaced with less delicious Passover items. As the end of the holiday approached, I planned to restock the pantry with regular food.
“What should I buy?” I asked my kids. “Everything,” they replied.
I can’t wait. It’s the little things that often bring the greatest joy.