My Pantry is Bare, and I’m Happy


by Michelle X. Curran

Right now, I’m sitting in my kitchen in the quiet of the early morning, enjoying a cup of coffee and admiring my bare pantry.

I know. Totally weird, right?

But you have to understand. Just two weeks ago, there was disorder and chaos. Among other unsightly things, there were half-full bags of chips, crackers and pretzels, small-house-sized boxes of Goldfish wedged between shelves, bags of awful leftover birthday party favor candy that I felt too guilty to throw away (I ate all the chocolate), 4 half-boxes of lasagna noodles (WTF?) and six cans of expired evaporated milk. (I mean 1. who has that much evaporated milk? and 2. who lets it go bad? That stuff lasts forever!)

I mean it was bad. My pantry was the Sanford and Son of pantries.

But where there was mayhem before, I now see organization and clean lines. Jarred things are grouped together by type like high school cliques. Boxes are aligned by size. It’s a beautiful thing.

And just how have we reached such a food storage nirvana, you ask.

We stopped buying snacks.

Fig Newtons. Pirate’s Booty. Potato chips. Even the Goldfish, my children’s crack. We stopped buying them all.

The Martha Stewartization of my little pantry is just a pleasant bi-product of a decision that was made because 1) my husband and I were getting too fat and 2) my kids spent most of their waking hours asking for snacks. Snacks to go to the grocery store. Snacks for the park. Snacks to drive to hockey practice. Snacks to eat at the dojo. Snacks because they hadn’t snacked in the last 45 minutes. Snacks, snacks, snacks, snacks and more freakin’ snacks. And I gave in. All. The. Time.

And then I’d yell at them when they wouldn’t eat dinner. (Mealtimes could be a shit show.) Or get frustrated when they balked at my suggestions of fresh fruit or veggies. We don’t want THAT!

So we stopped buying the admittedly delicious snack-y foods. (And I stopped making those “special” weekly trips to Dunkin’ Donuts for munchkins too.) Not because of High Fructose Corn Syrup or Gluten or GMO’s or Monsanto. Not that I don’t care about those things. It’s just that I can’t keep up or keep track. Not with three kids. I have a hard enough time just making sure my toddler is not eating sand or Legos.

We stopped buying the snacks just because we wanted all of us to eat a little better. A little fresher. I wanted my kids not to gag when I tried to feed them zucchini and summer squash. I wanted them to know that a snack or a treat doesn’t have to come out of a box or a Dunkin’ Donuts bag. That it can come from a tree at our local farm. And we started to feel like all these foods we were giving them were getting in the way of that.

It’s been a couple of weeks and so far so good. Actually, it’s more than good. I’ve already lost a couple of pounds (God only knows how much I was consuming with the handfuls of potato chips snatched during frequent pantry flybys or the spoonfuls of Nutella inhaled before bed.) My husband – damn him – has lost even more. And while I expected a Linda Blair-type reaction from my kids (Wow, that picture really freaks me out), it only took a couple of days before the kids stopped whining about what we didn’t have, and instead started reaching into the refrigerator for a healthier alternative. Even if they are doing it out of spite or to halt starvation, I figure we’re still winning.

I’m not saying I’m never going to buy Goldfish crackers again. I’m not going to start sending anonymous crazy-lady posts to message boards lecturing other moms about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup or about the necessity to buy organic. I’m not going to tell my kids that they are banned from eating Doritos or potato chips on playdates. I’m just going to try and be better about what we eat as a family at home. And if that means no more Nutella, well, I’ll just have to eat it behind closed doors. Kidding! (Kind of.)


Michelle Xiarhos Curran is a freelance writer and mother of three in Newburyport. Visit her blog at