Content with my cans

Content with my cans

As part of my personal accountability plan, I have listed on my project page all the rooms of our house that need a deep cleaning.  Okay, so every room in the house is on that list – this whole place needs some attention!  But at least I have a starting point. . .

In an effort to stay on task and clean one room this month, earlier this week I recruited Don to help me bring some order to the food room.  As I finished up today and admired the neatly stocked shelves, I began to muse about this underground room in the far corner of the basement.

Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!
Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!

Our food storage room is not a pretty room; the gray cement walls are set off nicely by the gray cement floor covered with orange shag and yellow sculptured carpet pieces left from another decorating era.  Cobwebs collect dirt in the corners, and the ceiling is accented by metal heating ducts.  The only real color comes from the labels on all the canned goods, so of course nothing matches.  And it’s cold in there!  A screened vent to the outside allows the room to be cool in the summer, but really nippy in the winter.

Lining up an apartment?
Making plans to meet a friend?

The shelves sport a little graffiti – phone numbers or addresses engraved with a ball point pen by my youngest brother Tom.   When all the family was home, and his bedroom had been given to a married sibling with children, Tom pulled a roll away bed into the food room and set up housekeeping for the duration of the family visit.

Because of its remote location in the far corner of the basement accessible only through the laundry room, I often neglect or completely ignore regular cleaning and maintenance of the food room.  Flour spills commonly adorn the orange carpet, evidence of restocking the kitchen canister from the big buckets downstairs.  Sacks and boxes of groceries dropped just inside the door may create an obstacle course through which we carefully maneuver to retrieve a can of tomato sauce.  One lone and sprouting potato could be resting on the trunk of Christmas decorations.  It’s very easy for me to pay little attention to a room that we only dash in and out of, one that never hosts a family gathering or sees a visitor.

Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!
Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!

But in spite of its lowly status, the food room is central to our household.  It is the foundation of many family meals.  “Go get a can of chicken broth from the food room.”  It is cold storage for Christmas goodies.  “The Special K bars are in a Rubbermaid container on the right side, middle shelf.”  It’s our own convenience store, conveniently located in our own basement.  “You forgot green chilies for the enchiladas?  That’s okay.  They’re on the left side, middle shelf.”

I’m certain that our kids have their own memories of that cold, simple room.  When they were younger, I know they used to sneak treats out of an infrequent stash of junk food.  Occasionally the room was stocked with cases of soda or candy bars that had been on sale, and I would find evidence of their not so discreet pilfering in abandoned wrappers on the shelves or floor.  Brittney tells about talking to Peter on the phone while they were in high school and hearing him ponder what canned food would taste best cold, right off the shelf as he anticipated an evening snack!

Buckets of flour and
Buckets of flour and sugar supply some of the basics.

Although the kids have left home and our choices of food have changed in the last 20 years, our food room continues to provide peace of mind and encourages us to heed the counsel often repeated by our prophet.  Because of its design for a specific purpose (my parents were genius to include a cold storage room when building this house), with shelves lining those gray cement walls, we are able to buy in bulk and maintain a supply of food right here in our own home.

“. . . I wish to urge again the importance of self-reliance on the part of every individual Church member and family.

None of us knows when a catastrophe might strike. Sickness, injury, unemployment may affect any of us.

We [the Church] have a great welfare program with facilities for such things as grain storage in various areas. It is important that we do this. But the best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.” Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2002 –  complete talk here

Our inventory revealed that we’re doing okay on vitamins,

Can't forget the vitamins
Can't forget the vitamins

but we’re a little short on toilet paper.

Absolute necessities
Absolute necessities

Home to lots of good food, plenty of memories, and (unfortunately) a rare mouse, our now clean and organized food room is a little corner of happiness to me!

An insider's view
An insider's view

3 thoughts on “Content with my cans

  1. AAhhh . . . . memories. This is a great post that I would love to have my children appreciate with me; they probably won’t, but maybe my grandchildren or their grandchildren.

    Two things a blog post can’t, unfortunately capture: the smell of the food room and the distinct noises the door makes: double handle rattle (it’s very loose) followed by high pitched hinge squeak, right?

    I remember that squeak because I was always trying to minimize it as I snuck in for Resees. What I want to know is this: Was I as bad as my kids are at NOT hiding their tracks? I find wrappers all over the place of things they are sneaking–do they think I won’t know?!


  2. This was an intergral part of my childhood/young adult years. Unless it’s been viewed in person, one cannot fully comprehend the cool “7-11” that exists in the basement. Besides that, no memory of Tom is complete without thinking of the foodroom. When I was living there and Tom was home, that room was even wired for sound–ABBA, Styxx, and once in awhile Boston could be heard booming from the food room. Great memories! Please don’t ever completely abandon the orange carpet–Mom loved that carpet. 🙂 Thanks for the fun memories as well as inspiration to follow the prophet a little more.


  3. I’ll just add this: Canned beef, found in a nondescript silver can (from the cannery?), served in some sort of thick broth or thin gravy – is a terrible idea for a late night snack. Just steer clear of it.

    Once you get started, you have to finish the whole thing – what are you going to do, head upstairs to dump out the leftovers? With the way mom sleeps? Unlikely. So you’re stuck with a deceptively big can of cold beef, and vomit inducing gravy. Not worth it. Stick with spaghetti-os.


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