Here is the method I use, along with a few tips. When new items come in, I mark the expiration date on the item with a sharpie. This helps me to see newer vs. older goods, at a glance.
Also, in order to know how much of an item to stock up on, I keep track of what we use by marking the date that we open an item to see how long it lasts us. I can quickly calculate how many I will need for a month, 3 months or even a year. If I see a good deal, I’ll stock up as much as my budget will allow. This helps us to reduce our shopping expenses, by buying at rock-bottom prices (sale + coupon).
Right now, I’m working on a shelving system for my canned goods. Once that is in place, the new cans will go behind the old cans. I only buy what we eat. The only exception is if an item is free. If we don’t use it, I donate the items. Currently, they are stored in diaper boxes and labeled into categories, such as: meat, fruit, pasta, soup, tomato sauce, beans, condiments, vegetables, health & beauty, etc.
I like the challenge building meals from what I have on hand. Saves time, money, sanity, and fuel!
So how does your pantry work? Do you find it satisfying to shop at home first? 🙂