I'm a pretty organised person — except when it comes to my pantry. I can never remember what I have and what I've run out of, and finding things in there is a lost cause. I finally decided to get it under control, hoping I wouldn't find an embarrassing number of the same item* stuffed in the shelves. Spoiler: I did.
Set Yourself Up
First things first, get the supplies you need to organise your pantry properly: A garbage bin, a stool or chair (to sit on, and to reach everything if you're short like me), and containers. I used two types of containers, airtight ones to hold dry goods and plastic boxes with lids to gather like items together. I'm not that fancy, so I just used painter's tape and a sharpie to label the containers, but if making things look pretty brings you joy, you can go for nicer labels. Throw on The Great British Bake Off (my guilty pleasure) or a favourite playlist to make it more fun.
Be prepared to throw some food out. Keep an eye out for food that's gone bad or stale (expiration dates won't necessarily help you out with this). I have no problem throwing something out if I know I won't eat it (stale chips, bleh), but my boyfriend hates food waste, so I tried to do this part while he was busy playing video games in an effort to actually get rid of stuff. If you're the anti-food waste one in the house, put all the food you plan to toss in a box and put a date on it, maybe two weeks later. Anything in the box you haven't eaten by that date goes in the bin.
Figure Out How to Sort Things
Taking a step back and thinking about the best spots to put everything actually made organising my pantry easier, so don't rush ahead and just start throwing things on shelves. We've already established that I'm short, so I put the things I eat the most, like tea, baking supplies, cereal and pasta (mmm, carbs) on the middle shelves. I stashed heavier items, like canned goods and glass jars of dried beans, on the lowest shelves — they fall, they don't have a long way to go. The snacks my boyfriend and I eat most went in a plastic box at the front of a lower shelf (sorry dried fruit, no one likes you) for easy snacking access.
I also put together (by which I mean I cut up a cardboard box), DIY shelf dividers to separate all the sauces and oils. I sorted these by flavour, because that's what I care about. Oils, including toasted sesame and walnut, on the right; savoury (soy sauce, ponzu and peanut butter) and acidic (apple cider, red wine and balsamic vinegar) in the middle; and sweet and spicy on the left. Sauces are important to making things taste divine, so being able to quickly grab the one I want will be amazing!
Now, it's just down to putting things in their place. I made an overflow spot on the floor of my pantry (which I think is actually supposed to be a linen closet…) for anything that took up too much room, like jars of pasta, beans and rice. The last thing you should do is walk anyone else in the house through your new pantry set-up so they put things in the right place, too.
*And in case you're still wondering, here are the duplicate items I found: Four jars of furikake, two bags of kombu, two half-full bags of rice, two jars of garlic chilli oil, two bags of sundried tomatoes, and two packages of black garlic. Yeah... way too many duplicate items.