I’m usually fairly immune to kitchen envy, but when I’m scrolling through Instagram and spot a proper pantry—lined with neatly labeled jars of lentils, bulgur and oats—I get a little pang of longing. A pantry is like a walk-in closet for your kitchen. And I’m certain that if I had one for all of my dry goods that a delicious, healthy dinner that my children would love would practically make itself each night.
That’s the implied promise, anyway. A pantry has a lot more utility than many other modern status symbols. After all, you have to store your food somewhere—even if it’s just a cupboard or a rack. But it is also aspirational luxury—akin to showing off your productivity, shopping at Whole Foods or sporting a “cult” brand canvas tote instead of a Birkin.
Looking at pantry porn—like the pristine white shelves and meticulously stacked paper towels that recently garnered nearly 65,000 likes on Mandy Moore’s Instagram feed—I start to believe that I too can live my best life. All it will require is a few clever IKEA hacks and 20-30 matching containers to store flours, beans and nuts in. It’s not just me. In the year 2018, we’re more interested in where celebrities are storing their toasters than in who they’re sleeping with. Progress?
The dream of a pantry is all about two things that most of us perpetually wish we had more of—space and time. Housing prices have risen dramatically, and even as HGTV and its ilk bombard us with a constant stream of remodels and dream homes, making the most of small spaces has become the urban norm. In that context, having room for a pantry is a definite luxury.
It’s not just any pantries we’re fetishizing. The ideal of a beautiful space for all your dry goods, extra wine glasses and heavy enameled dutch ovens speaks of a life in which you plan each week’s meals well in advance and have time for long braises and dinner parties. It’s a larder stocked against both last minute takeout—and the desperate hope that there are still rotisserie chickens left to buy when you get to the grocery store at 6:15pm. So I’ll be the first to admit it—I wish I had a pantry and the time to organize it, too.