In the post about food storage rotation I briefly touched on a method called FIFO, first in first out. This method is widely used, not only by households but companies like restaurants, so I felt it deserved a bit more focus. Making sure you have fresh food is important so you are not wasting space or money on food that has gone bad.
While working for a national restaurant chain, I learned the usefulness of FIFO for the food. They had multiple shelving units that allowed new cans to be put in at the back of the shelf which pushes the older cans to the front of the shelves which makes rotation easy. This system made it so that no one had to check dates; they just pulled the first can out and knew they were rotating the food properly. Now, at restaurants they go through their canned goods quickly and are not storing them for longer than a week so checking dates wasn’t an issue but it’s important to check dates at home. Hey, if national chains use this to keep food fresh, you know it will work for your home. It’s a bit different when you apply the same principle to long term food storage.
The shelves for canned goods that make FIFO possible are available online or at most stores, I found great ones at the club stores. But I recommend getting some small ones for your pantry in your kitchen so you can make sure that those products you use on a regular basis are rotated as well. For those items that you want to keep on hand but don’t use on a weekly basis the larger shelves are great. I love the ones that have the different size slots for different size cans. That way if I choose to buy the large can of applesauce I can still rotate them like my smaller cans and all on the same shelf! You will have to keep looking at your food every few months to make sure you throw out those cans that’s have expired, but with this system you can just check your first can and if it’s still good you don’t have to worry about the rest behind it! If the front one has expired then look at the next one and see if it’s still good, and so on till your front can has not expired.
Ok great! You have an awesome way of FIFOing your canned food but what about the rest of your food storage. It’s a pain to have to unload everything on a shelf and put the new things behind the older food. A great way to solve this still requires moving but is an easier manner. Place the newest item on a bottom shelf and the older product on the eye level shelf. So when you buy new items, make sure you mark the date you bought them on the box so you know which is older, move the older item up a shelf and place the newest food storage item on the bottom shelf. That way you know that when you walk in the item on eye level is the one to use. This system works for me, but think about ways you can rotate your non canned items, maybe you place them all side by side and know you take items from the right side. Or maybe you can find a way to place the newest food item in the back without having to pull everything out.
FIFOing isn’t just for canned food, while there have been shelves made especially for them, it’s important to make sure you are rotating your food storage into your every day eating habits. Rotation is the best way to insure your food is fresh and you are not wasting your money.
Breanna Legler is a staff writer at PrepareWise who will be contributing to this food storage blog along with others on the staff. Breanna is a food storage enthusiast who is excited to share her knowledge with others. She is also into outdoor actvities such as skiing, camping and scuba diving.