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The American Pantry

Building A Pantry That Fits Your Lifestyle!

First, a Little History on the Pantry

The term pantry or bread closet began to emerge in the early 1300s. A baker was in charge of maintaining the pantry and all it staples. Bread was the quite the staple in the early days, and the baker was considered an important role in society. But all good things change in time. Soon the pantry became a place of general storage in the kitchen, and the baker became more or less a butler. Today’s pantry cabinet or pantry rooms came into to their own in the 19th century. The American pantry was well on the way to becoming a staple in modern kitchen design. The pantry can take the form of a cabinet or a separate room adjoining the kitchen. The pantry has become more than just a place to store canned and dry goods.

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How big should my pantry be?

This can be relativity simple to answer. How big is your family going to be? The larger the family, the larger the pantry. Granted, some kitchens can only support cabinet space; others can devote a small room. Larger pantry areas may include extra refrigeration units. The location of your pantry is important in saving you time in meal preparation. If your kitchen can only support a dedicated pantry cabinet, it should be located central to counter space in preparation of food. If space permits, a larger room next to the kitchen is perfect. Avoid locating a pantry in remote locations or you will find yourself making many trips to and from the pantry area, adding time to your food preparations.

Planning Your Storage Requirements

Planning is the important first step. Measure the boxes and cans of food and paper items you have to see just how much space they need. We want to create a pantry closet design that wastes no space. If your shelves are only needed for canned goods, they should be spaced at eight to ten inches or so. Pantries are good places to store bulkier items like paper towels and plastic storage containers. Keep in mind that an important part of pantry closet design is deciding what you don’t need. Think about what you could store farther away, like toilet paper, or think of convinces vs storage space in the kitchen pantry. You might want to consider including a few drawers for smaller items. You may also want a few mini-shelves or additional spice racks.

Depending on the space available, decide if your pantry closet will be walk-in or not. We all love the idea of walk-in closets or pantry, but keep in mind that the primary objective in a pantry closet is to waste no space. All pantries, in my view, should be extremely functional with or without a walk-in style. They might be a closet that is only a couple of feet deep—any additional storage space is a plus in a functional kitchen. A closet and the shelf space contain within serves just as well as a walk-in.

You may have to use a tall pantry-type cabinet that goes from the floor to near the ceiling. These cabinets can store a lot of items, particularly if they are equipped with pull-out can racks, shelving on the back of the doors, and built-in bins. Even the back of the pantry door can be a great place for a rack to hold small items or even a broom.


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The Makeup of the Storage Environment

A combination of wire racks and solid shelving will work best. Some builders make the case for solid shelves—I don’t. Air circulation is important in a pantry environment. Some careful planning, using a combination of wire and wooden shelves, will help you avoid tilting or wobbling items. A good, old-fashioned wood shelf with a thicker front edge gives added strength where needed. You can load it up with heavy cans and it won’t bend out of shape. Avoid solid shelves of particleboard with a plastic laminate surface, like melamine, as they will warp over time, instead use solid shelving made from quality-built plywood veneers..

A pantry should have adequate lighting with a timer shut-off. Add just enough lighting to read the tiny print on labels or expiration dates. I recommend T8 fluorescent lighting in a 6500k light range. They throw light in a wide pattern, they use less electricity, and do not generate as much heat as incandescent lights. Food stores longer in a darker environment, and this is vitality important if you do your own canning. Avoid using your food storage for all your electronic stuff, it only adds heat to this room and contributes to shorter storage life.

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