What's in the pantry?

One aspect of housesitting my husband and I really enjoy is walking into a stranger’s kitchen and seeing what’s in their pantry and cupboards. Both my husband and I love to cook and especially enjoy the challenge of walking into a kitchen and not knowing what the homeowners have or how well equipped the kitchen is. Friends of ours ask isn’t it stressful to do that but we don’t feel that way. Of course it takes a while to figure out where things are but we enjoy that challenge. I remember making a salad in a pot on a first night sit as I didn’t see the extra cupboards in a handleless style kitchen!

We have also discovered and become hooked on certain food items, etc. we have tried in our housesitting kitchens - I love chili sauce, smoked paprika spice, chai tea and a mandarin/orange/pineapple seltzer, not to mention a variety of wines - all items that I now buy on a regular basis. Thanks to homeowners who have introduced us to these never tried before goodies! What’s some favorite goodies other sitters have tried on their house sits?


I assume i’m allowed to use some dry spices but I never dare to taste wines or alcohols belonging to owners. Not even sauces.

I may look at the labels of course if I want to try.

I 've done more than 40 swaps since 1988 and I follow the same rules while I pet sit.

I would never dare to taste a bottle as you are never sure you will find the same brand, the same year if you thought you could replace it . It may be a very expensive wine but you ignored its quality (and price)

Unless i have been invited to help myself I watch but never touch.

Looking at cooking books is interesting but doses in pounds or oz is rather confusing…


Oh I don’t just help myself to things - the wines were left as gifts for us and anything else I may try I replace for the owner. I’ve tried some nice spices that I didn’t have the chance to before on sits.


HO were nice with you, I 've never been invited to drink any wine bottle once HO were away, but all invited me to share dinner, and it was lovely. Caves were often very full.
On my last sit, in France at xmas, they told me to finish the “carafe” in which they had spilled the wine, on my first in Costwolds we had brought wine from France. They did not suggest to use their cave but they invited to take “anything” in the freezer but we did not touch.

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I’ve had homeowners who’ve said ‘help yourself to anything you see’ and other homeowners who say absolutely nothing. In that case, I always ask ‘is it ok to use staples like oil, vinegar, sugar, basic spices, etc.’ The main peeve I have with homeowners is they often don’t make any space for the sitters – even if they will be gone 2 weeks or more. If you’ll be away that long, please empty the fridge of items that won’t keep and move other things to the back of shelves so that the sitter has some fridge space. Same for closets – I can live out of my suitcase but it’s really nicer to be able to hang some items and have a drawer or two.


Good point - I always ask the homeowners prior to arriving if they can make some room in their fridge and freezer for us as I usually bring some food from home. I have a checklist I’ve developed for homeowners to answer and that’s one of the questions.


Hello @Annette could you share your list ?


I have no problem sharing but I’ve tried for the past two days to upload the document and it’s not working. I had to convert from a PDF to Jpeg but still no success. Sorry about that.


Hi, We too don’t feel we can use the home owners main food items even when the HO politely say help yourself. Of course I don’t mean condiments, herbs and spices, flour etc, with their permission. Certainly not their drink. And we ask if they prefer us to use up anything in the fridge that may go out of date whilst they are away.
We’ve always had very generous home owners but it’s just us I suppose.
If they leave us food/drink gifts that’s different.
Often it’s just wonderful to have a cooker to use when you kinda live on the road :grinning: