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The best way to choose ready-made or custom pantry shelves is to first examine all of the food items and/or cooking supplies you want to store. You should identify the things you use the most and need the easiest access to because this can be a deciding factor in the shelf strength required as well as the size and height of the shelves. Metal pantry shelves can buckle and dent if the items stored on it are too heavy, whereas wood shelving may warp. Plan on where in your pantry unmovable shelves would work best and what items you'd want to access on sliding or pull-out shelving systems.
Pull-out or sliding pantry shelving is especially helpful when you need to reach items stored in the back. For example, pots and their lids are often easier to reach on slide-out rather than unmovable pantry shelves. Make sure the shelves have raised edges to keep items from sliding off when you pull out each shelf. Smaller sliding shelves can be used to organize and store jars of spices or condiments.
Consider placing the shelves to store the pantry items you use the most at, as well as just below, eye level. Then plan to house lighter things above those shelves and heavier goods below them. If you leave adequate space between the floor and the lowest pantry shelf, you could place rows of airtight storage bins there to hold heavy items. Lighter cooking or serving ware that you don't need that often is usually best stored on upper pantry shelving.
Glass shelves usually don't work well for pantries unless they are small and narrow for storing little spice bottles. Openwork metal pantry shelves tend to be stronger than solid shelf pieces made from cheap, thin metals. Stainless steel openwork shelving is used in many professional kitchens for its sturdiness and efficient looks, but it can be expensive. White or silver-colored open wire pantry shelving is a less expensive option that is strong enough for most home kitchens.
If your pantry has a door, choosing wire shelving systems designed to attach to the top back of interior doors can give you maximum storage in a small area. These pantry shelves are often ideal for storing small items that are easy to misplace. The back of the pantry door, or a wall near the doorway, is also a good place for shelves for items used daily. This saves going to the back of the pantry for often-needed supplies.
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