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Pantry Ideas for Your Kitchen

If you’re thinking about including a pantry in your new or remodeled kitchen, you’re not alone. While pantries were out of fashion for many years, lately their usefulness has been rediscovered and pantry ideas are in all the shelter magazines.

Finding Space for a Pantry

If you don’t already have a pantry, and you want one, the first question is probably where to put it. First, let’s think about possible locations for a walk-in pantry:

  • Steal space from a closet that backs on to your kitchen, and add a door from the kitchen
  • Stack the washer and dryer to make space in a laundry room
  • Shrink your breakfast area or dining room into a nook or eating bar and use the rest as a pantry
  • Construct a bump-out from the kitchen or other service room
  • Use part of a mud room
  • Build a small room for the pantry in a corner of the garage near a door to the kitchen
  • Use part of a spare bedroom closet
  • Build one in a corner of the kitchen or eating area, either alone or integrated into a run of cabinets
  • Use part of the basement

“Walk-in” in pantry terms doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be able to walk in and walk around: it can mean that you step through the door and are surrounded by storage, all within arms reach: more of a “step-in” pantry.

If you absolutely have no room for a walk-in pantry, then a pantry cabinet is probably the solution for you. There are many designs or swing-out, fold-out or pull-out pantries made to fit in full-height cabinets, base cabinets or wall cabinets, from large to small.

Inside Your Pantry

Inside your pantry, once you’ve found the space, you have a long list of choices for the storage structures you choose to build. Many of them depend on the type of things you want to store in the pantry.

Shelves – narrow so you don’t lose things at the back, easily cleanable, labelable if you want to have specific areas of your pantry for specific types of goods. The vertical space between shelves can be customized to the height of your stored objects. Adjustable shelving is a great idea if you think you’ll change your mind about heights, but in reality most people find that they never change their adjustable shelves once they’ve initially been set up.

Baskets – these can be hung under shelves, stacked on shelves, placed or stacked on the floor, racked up in rolling carts, and made of natural materials like wicker or seagrass, or of wire (chrome or plastic coated). Plastic baskets are also available, and cheap, but they tend not to last very long unless they are seriously heavy duty.

Bins – made of metal, wood or plastic, with or without lids, stackable, with open, glass or solid fronts or lids, placed on shelves, the floor, or in drawers.

Drawers: can be solid or open (wire); wood, plastic, basketry or metal; compartmented or otherwise organized or subdivided inside; large and deep or small and shallow, with or without label holders, full extension, or removable to carry to a work area.

Hooks – to hold bags, aprons, clipboards, strings of onions or garlic, etc

Barrels, clean garbage bins, or sacks for holding seriously large quantities of bulk foods

Racks on walls or the inside of door(s) can hold smaller packages, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, etc. Pegboard racks are especially useful for walls or spaces where you can’t stick out into the room much and so don’t have space for shelves. A plate rail at the top of the wall can decorate your pantry while storing extra plates or platters.

You might also consider including these other items in your pantry:

  • Lighting on an automatic switch which goes off when the door closes
  • Yellow sticky cards to warn of insect infestation
  • Small appliances and gadgets (for example a can opener, lid gripper)
  • A notepad and pen for lists – perhaps on the door or wall outside the pantry, or right by the door inside: maybe on a clipboard
  • Labels and a pen or pencil for noting dates on foods, and labeling containers
  • A basket for carrying things back and forth to other storage areas or the main kitchen
  • Spare empty containers
  • Scissors and a knife for opening recalcitrant packaging

Safety in the Pantry

If you live in an earthquake zone, your pantry ideas should take that into acount. Breakables need to be held in place, and heavy items like canned goods should be stored so that they can’t fall, break other things, block the door closed, or hurt people.

Your pantry contents would be part of your emergency food supply if an earthquake happened, so you want them to be in usable condition and accessible.

What to Keep in Your Pantry

  • bulk foods
  • home canned foods
  • home dried foods
  • pet foods
  • people foods
  • soft drinks
  • emergency supplies – water, candles, flashlights, matches,

More Pantry Ideas

  • Paint the inside bright white with semi-gloss or gloss paint so you can wash it down and keep it clean
  • use a smooth, easy-clean flooring such as sheet vinyl so spilled food can’t hide in cracks
  • caulk all gaps so insects can’t get inside
  • make it rodent-proof
  • use a solid door and hang racks on the inside, clipboard with lists and notes on the outside, or paint with chalkboard paint.
  • use a glass door and leave a LED light on inside to look decorative, especially frosted glass with patterns on or the word “pantry”
  • If you have too many doors leading off the kitchen, disguise the door so it blends into the wall
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