Like a woman, think of your pantry/shelf space as having distinctly different erogenous zones or departments. Pay attention to each one. Clean them well. Buy Tupperware or other food storage devices. Pay attention to expiration dates. If you are not a seasoned cook, then throw out crap that's expired regardless.
• Dry goods - flours, sugars (white, brown and powdered -- also known as confectioner's sugar), pastas, canned goods, dried beans and nuts. Store these dry goods in a storage container with a lid. Tupperware has great stuff for that.
• Liquids -- vinegars (white and balsamic), oils and broths. I keep oil and vinegars in the original packaging in a cool place away from the sun. If you buy pre-made broths, get the containers with reusable lids and store the broth in the refrigerator after you have opened it.
• Herbs and spices -- fresh are best. But sometimes dry is fine. Oregano, steak salts, etc. Store dried herbs in a drawer with an organizer, in a cabinet or on the counter.
(Note: Don't buy one of those spice racks with all of the pre-packaged herbs. You don't know how long they have been sitting there. Dry herbs lose their flavor over time.)
• Perishables -- items to be stored in the refrigerator (creams, cheeses, eggs and butter)
• Fruits on the counter - Plums, pears, peaches, all lovely melons such as, honeydews and cantaloupes, mangoes, bananas, and tomatoes (yep they're a fruit) keep on ripening whether they're on the tree, in the store, or in your fruit bowl. Keep them on your counter for about 5 days. After you slice one open or they begin to feel soft, put the fruit in the refrigerator.
• Fruit that should go in the refrigerator immediately include citrus fruits, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, and cherries. They don't get any riper once they've been picked; they just go bad. To slow the spoiling process, put them in the refrigerator.
• Bread can stay fresh at room temperature for up to 5 days when sealed.
• Coffee should be kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Putting coffee in the freezer or refrigerator exposes it to fluctuating temperatures, which isn't sexy for the flavor when brewed.
• Garlic, onions and potatoes, should be stored in a dark, cool place, not together and not in the refrigerator.
• A helpful tip for plastic bag storage is to fill the bag, then fold a couple of times before sealing. This way most of the air will be released before you seal the bag. This is great for leftovers that are to be stored in the freezer.