How to Choose a Food Pantry

A food pantry is an effective way of keeping a kitchen clutter-free and operating with efficiency. All of your dried foods, canned goods, condiments, seasonings and paper goods are stored in one place, saving you time and effort.

How much room you have will dictate what kind of pantry will be best. Here you can acquaint yourself with the most common types of pantries so that you have an idea of what you want prior to doing some serious shopping.

What Types of Kitchen Pantries Are There?

Walk-In Pantry

A walk-in pantry is almost as coveted as a walk-in closet! It’s a comparatively small room within a kitchen or adjacent to it. It has a mix of open shelving, sometimes from floor to ceiling, drawers, a bit of a counter top, and a utility stool to reach those upper shelves.

✋ Please note that for any pantry adjustable shelves are a great idea. You can raise or lower the shelves depending on the height of the stored items and increase the usable space in your pantry.

Butler’s Pantry

A butler’s pantry is also a walk-in, but it has considerably more counter top for when you need additional space to prepare meals—when you entertain, for example. Often, small appliances or the fine china are stored there. If you want to really treat yourself, install a prep sink!

Wall Pantry

A wall pantry is a great way to use vacant wall space. The pantry is built into the wall, and the shelves can be as shallow or as deep as space permits. Bi-fold doors work best for easy access to the pantry.

Freestanding Pantry

A freestanding pantry is a piece of furniture that stores dry goods and, when there is space, small appliances. It becomes part of the décor by matching the kitchen cabinets or by complementing them or by introducing a colorful note.

A solid wood freestanding pantry is best. It will stay in place without wobbling, will not fall over and will not easily be damaged. Wood is such an accommodating material that you can make changes to your pantry when you are changing the kitchen décor.

✋ Please note that freestanding pantries lend themselves well to having windows in them (think Pennsylvania Dutch or Early American style pantries.) On a practical note, you can see into the pantry (sight out what you want) before opening the door. For aesthetics, a window here and there displaying colorful or interesting food packages adds a decorative element to the room.

White Classic Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Traditional Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Simple Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
Black Classic Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Modern Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Modern Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry

Freestanding pantries come in many different styles with many different features. Here are two examples:

  • Corner pantry

True to its name, this pantry fits into a corner of the kitchen to save space. No matter how large or small your kitchen, it allows you to make good use of often-ignored real estate.

  • Slide-out Pantry

This is a freestanding unit on wheels. Pull it out, push it back in. It is open both front and back so that you have access to your foodstuffs from either side. The slide-out, perhaps, is the best pantry for saving space in your kitchen, and it provides much more storage space than you would expect. Being moveable allows you to reorder the space in your kitchen any time.

When choosing a slide-out pantry (or any with wheels), make sure that the casters lock so that it cannot take a stroll all by itself.

Built-In Cupboards

When space is at a premium, cupboard pantries can be designed to fit in with the rest of the cabinets in your kitchen. They become part of the architectural design and add to the overall décor while keeping your kitchen organized. You will find cabinets in every possible design, size, configuration and price range, from custom built at the high end to special order at mid-level to ready made (stock) at the low end. The following types of cabinets are examples of built-ins.

Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
Black Traditional Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Classic Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Classic Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Corner Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
White Corner Manufactured Wood Kitchen Pantry
  • Base Diagonal Cabinets

These cabinets are beneath the counter and fit in the corners of kitchen walls. They have only one door that opens for a full view of the storage space. Most of these cabinets include a lazy Susan or pull-out shelves to facilitate access to the items stored there.

✋ A lazy Susan is a turntable or circular rotating tray, usually made of wood, used to provide easy access to foods, whether in a cabinet or on a table.

Brown Corner Wooden Kitchen Cabinet
White Corner Wooden Kitchen Cabinet
Brown Corner Wooden Kitchen Cabinet
White Lazy Susan Corner Wooden Kitchen Cabinet
Brown Corner Wooden Kitchen Cabinet
White Corner Wooden Kitchen Cabinet
  • Diagonal Corner Cabinet

These cabinets provide continuity when bottom cabinets extend along the corner of a room. They add to the decorative appeal of the kitchen, but are smaller than other cupboard possibilities. They usually hold a lazy Susan for better space management.

  • Base End Cabinet

This is the last cabinet beneath a counter top. The exterior looks exactly like all the other cabinets, but the interior is angled to eliminate sharp corners and to provide the storage space for pantry items. It also adds a decorative touch to the overall kitchen design.

  • Wall Diagonal Corner Cabinet

These cabinets are larger than your average wall cabinets, because they are made in a trapezoidal shape. The door, however, will be the same size as the other cabinets so that the unity of the design stays constant. The result is that you have a regular-sized door and a cavernous cabinet, but the cabinet can be modified to make it more practical for everyday use. Almost always, a lazy Susan is used, even though its round shape is not as efficient in a trapezoid.

You Have Your Pantry, Now What?

If you have never had a pantry, it can be a somewhat daunting, albeit fun, task getting it stocked up and organized. We have a few tips for you that might make it a bit easier.

  • Figure out what you eat the most and put those things within easy reach.
  • Do not go on a “search and destroy” at your local warehouse club because you have the space now. That space will fill up quickly with things that you do not use all that often if you are seduced by outrageously large quantities.
  • Divide your pantry into zones: cereal, dried foods, canned goods, soups, pet food, drinks, etc. Within each zone, keep like items together—cans of corn, cans of beans in the canned vegetable zone; clusters of fruit juice, clusters of sodas in the beverage zone. And so on. Shelf dividers will make your zones even more organized, and there are many available at a very low cost.
  • Unwrap large packages, such as paper towels, cartons of soda, multipacks of anything. Individual items fit in much better and will be easier to grab when you want one roll or one can.
  • Once you have your pantry an organized work of art, you need to purge to keep it that way. Mark your calendar (you know how often will work for you) to go through the pantry and pull out everything that is out of date and anything that you notice is no longer eaten at your house.

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