01 November 2009

Chatelaine of the Household

Chatelaine was, in ancient times, the title for the mistress of a large household. Her role carried the responsibility for making sure all the stores were in order, everyone had enough clothing, and otherwise managing all the things necessary to keep the household running smoothly. It was not a small job!

Fortunately, in modern times, we have options about how we spend our days and nobody is relegated to scullery maid or squire by virtue of gender and family status. Still, the work of making sure the stores are in order, everyone has enough clothing, and the household still runs hasn’t gone away – we just have options of how that work gets done.

Whenever I find myself doing some of the sorting and organizing work, I tell myself it’s my chance to be the chatelaine. I think of the mistresses of great households in days gone by, counting barrels of apples and beer, hoping to have enough for winter … and I count myself very fortunate to have Save On Foods as my backup plan.

One of today’s jobs was to sort and organize the pantry. It’s a very small pantry, at this stage of the game, but it is still extremely useful: a full pantry means you can probably find the ingredients for just about anything you want to make for dinner, and if you aren’t able to get to the store for a few days … well … there’s still lots to eat, even if the options dwindle a bit after a week or two.

The pantry also helps us save money: whenever I see things on sale that I know we use frequently, I pick them up and add them to the stash. Part of today’s job was organizing the stash so that it’ll be easier to rotate our stock and use up the older things before we start in on the newer stuff.

We also buy in bulk to reduce packaging and costs, and so the other job for today was organizing the bulk purchases into more efficient packaging. Several baggies of baking soda are now in a large food-grade plastic jug, and enough elbow macaroni for a few mac-and-cheese casseroles is packaged into another jug just like it.

The final mission for today was clearing out the 'ancient and questionable’ items that have collected over time. The chickens feasted today on old stale pasta, grains, and dried fruits of uncertain provenance: they can eat what they like out of the pile, the rest will compost in place over the winter. Hopefully, with better pantry organization (including labels on the shelves and a strategy for incoming items), we won’t end up with such a stash of old and outdated food in the future.

We do have plans for a cold room downstairs, but given the length of our existing to-do list, it might be a year or two before it is implemented. In the meantime, I need to remember to ‘be the chatelaine’ now and again so that we can make the most of our little pantry and keep track of our stores.


  1. Anonymous8:59 am

    Related to Apple Jack ? (He would be 100 years old this year). He was not organized at all but kept the pantry well stocked at all times. ..Sharon

  2. Well, I guess it's in my blood after all! I have to make a serious effort to be organized, but I can do it when I have to. :)

    Apple Jack was the coolest grandpa any kid could've asked for, I miss him. 100 years this year, eh? Wow. Time flies....


Comments have been opened up for immediate posting - the spam filters seem to be doing their job pretty well, thankfully. I love hearing from you, thanks for taking the time to post a comment!