How Much Pantry Space Do I Need?


As you get ready to plan your future pantry, or update a current kitchen, you may be taking a hard look at space and size. This article offers helps you to make your best pantry width, depth, and size decisions.

Need a visual? Check out the floorplans for multiple pantry sizes in “Walk-in Pantry Dimensions.”

Real pantry sizes for real people

How much pantry space do I need? For a family of four, an average pantry space recommendation is 10 to 25 square feet. This translates to a 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep reach-in closet or a 5′ by 5′ walk-in pantry.

A good size for a pantry is 4’x4′ – 5’x5′ and will fit most food for a family of four.

Of course, this has a great deal to do with how efficient that space is and the amount of vertical shelving available. To determine how much space you need, look at what you are storing now and simply measure the footprint that it takes up. If you think your needs are greater than that, bump up the size.

pantry space needed for groceries

How much space do your groceries really need in your pantry?

If you are a single person in an apartment, less space will be required. However, pantry space requirements go up for everyone when pantry owners:

  • buy in bulk
  • prepare for disaster
  • can food from the garden
  • entertain frequently
  • store small appliances, etc.

With today’s plethora of small kitchen appliances, many homeowners are looking to expand their pantry space. Some everyday-use appliances can stay on top of the kitchen counter. Most owners prefer a cleaner look to their kitchen and would rather the appliances be a step away in the pantry.

A typical pantry in use

When I moved into an old farmhouse with a 4’x5′ pantry, I thought I had won the lottery. Even though I had pantry roll-out shelves in the last house, I lusted after the prized walk-in. Before that, I had a “mini” pantry closet that was less than 2’x2′ – it wasn’t enough space for my family of five. Having lived with different pantry types has helped me to realize a few things.

My current pantry size of 4’x5′ is all I really need. I regularly have 6-10 people sitting around my kitchen table. There is definitely lots of home cooking, barbeque, and baking going on at my house!

What doesn’t fit in my pantry is an open shelf rack that has my bigger pots, pans, and small appliances. This 3-foot wide, 4-shelf wire rack sits in my laundry room. I love the ease of use walking up to it and taking and removing the awkward or heavy items off the shelves. My basement contains my overflow of home-canned food and bulk purchases.

Do I want a bigger pantry? I used to. I still like the idea of having one room to store everything in. However, breaking pantry space up is super practical. It is an underrated solution that works amazingly well.

Pantry size compared to house square footage

Most 1500-1800 square foot rooms do not have space in the floor plan for a walk-in pantry. I’ve done the math, over and over, and have scoured hundreds of floor plans. Depending how many bedrooms you are trying to squeeze in on the first floor, something has to give. In this square footage size range, you will get a small closet next to the kitchen.

I mention this size, because it was the most common house size in America. According to AEA, “New US homes today are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973 and living space per person has nearly doubled.” By 2010, it had grown to 2,169 square feet. And, by 2018, it had bloated to 2,435 square feet. – HSH.com

It doesn’t take long to figure out where the extra space came from: walk-in pantries and closets, individual bathrooms for each person, and “trophy” kitchens (and all for less people in the house!). Never fear, highly efficient smaller homes are still being manufactured today (Wisconsin Homes is a fine examples of a manufacturer that does small home space well).

Pantry averages in small homes

A standard pantry size in a home of 1800 square foot homes is 4’x4′ – 5’x5′ pantry or less.

I’m not saying that is the size to plan for, it’s the size that comes with the house (house plans for sale). If you are working with a custom builder and put a high priority on pantry space, than you can find the extra pantry room by sacrificing other space in the floor plan.

Like most homeowners, it becomes a compromise, with pantry “overflow” moving to other parts of the house. This isn’t a bad thing. In a way, it does make your pantry next to the kitchen more efficient because you are only locating regularly used food near the cooking zone.

Other pantry size considerations

How small can a pantry be? A pantry can be as small as one shelf in a kitchen cupboard. The smallest pantry cabinet size measures 18″ wide and 12″-24″ deep. The minimum width for an interior door is 24″, which gives the basis for a minimal interior closet width of 32″ wide. Depth can vary.

Closets.com offers these minimum sizes for pantry closets:

  • The minimum for a walk-in pantry or linen closet: 32″D x 32″W but closer to 72″ width is preferred so that you can wrap standard size shelves along three sides.
  • Minimum reach-in pantry or linen closet: 17″D x 19-3/4″W (standard closet shelves come in 12″, 14″ and 16″ depths).

How deep should a pantry be? A pantry can be 12″ to 24″ deep for reach-in pantry closets. Depths greater than that are impractical to reach at arm’s length.

How deep should a walk-in pantry be? The minimal depth for a walk-in pantry is 32″ but 4′ is more common – these depths are restricted to stepping into the pantry and backing out.

How much space is needed for a walk-in pantry? The minimal amount of space needed for a walk-in pantry is 32″D x 32″W.

What is a good size for a pantry? Pantries in the 4′ x 4′ – 5′ x 5′ can accommodate the food storage needs of a family of four. Pantry size can be expanded beyond that if the need is greater.

In conclusion…

Pantry space requirements are determined by the lifestyle of the occupants and the house plan layout. A individual, family, or group of people that actively cook meals from basic pantry staples will require more space than people who eat out. Explore these walk-in pantry dimensions to help visual different pantry walk-in sizes.

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. Years of being a stay-at-home mom and supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.

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Pantry Talk for Pantry Enthusiasts!

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