Its the weekend, you are finally deciding to tackle cleaning out your refrigerator.
Upon doing so you discover 4 open bottles of the same brand of BBQ sauce and 3 different brands of Ranch dressings.
Everything is slightly sticky…
You try not to lose your mind.
Despite how quickly a commercial kitchen goes through food the basic safety and sanitation principle, First in, First Out (FIFO), is still heavily utilized and enforced. Health Inspectors hold food establishments to high standards on how they prepare, label, date, and store food… And rightfully so! Food borne illness is no joke.
However, food safety often goes overlooked in the home kitchens: un labelled and undated leftovers get pushed to the back of the refrigerator, meat is defrosted at room temperature on the counter, and black mold grows on the inside of half closed salad dressing container lids.
FIFO is one of the simplest food safety strategies to implement in your kitchen. It will help you waste less, saving you money and giving you the best snacks!
Streamlining your kitchen for the first time this can be a daunting step! I get it!
But in 4 easy steps we will be on our way to a more streamlined stock rotation system!
If you need or want help getting started with whipping your kitchen into shape download our comprehensive guide to an organized, efficient, and less wasteful kitchen: The Kitchen Audit Guide
So, how do you start practicing FIFO in your home?
It truly is as simple as it sounds. Older stock moves to the front of the line and new stock goes to the back!
You likely do this already without even thinking about it. For example, you’ll finish the open gallon of milk before starting the next or you’ll finish off leftovers before cooking something new.
Canned foods are an easy place to start when organizing your pantry. They stack easily and have the same type of date on the top of the can.
We have and love this can organizer. It holds ALOT of cans, was simple to assemble and is very sturdy!
ORGANIZE BY POSTED DATE
Many people get confused when they see the dates on a food item in the grocery store. And with good reason! There are a lot to keep up with!
The FDA mandates that every date on a package must be labeled with the type of date it represents. Use whatever date is standard on the food package to organize your stock.
Sell By buy on or before that date for best quality.
Best if Used By: consume by this time in order to enjoy it at its best.
Use By: consume or freeze it by this date.
Remember, dates are estimations from best practices but use your best judgement if something is obviously spoiled but it hasn’t “technically expired” based on the date – do not consume it.
On the other hand if the spinach is passed the date but is still in obviously good condition – you may be able to consume it!
Use your 5 senses. Get involved with your food.
BUY WHAT YOUR FAMILY EATS
When I was growing up our house was a revolving door of the latest protein bar, powder, or other trending “diet culture food.” 99% of them were disgusting, which should come as no surprise, but that meant they went to the health food graveyard. A large basket in the pantry with all the food we were never, ever going to eat but wouldn’t throw away. Because that would be *wasteful.*
In reality, that food could have been donated, offered to neighbors, composted, or tossed. And it isn’t just my family either! It happens to everybody!
I bet if you take a look in your pantry right now, there is at least one food item that you thought you needed for whatever reason (societal pressure, new recipe, whatever) and has been sitting there since the first time your bought it.
For instance, maybe your family hates quinoa (or sub any ingredient ever). Every you serve it they pitch a fit, you’re stressed, and another family dinner feels ruined.
but you make it because:
you should eat healthy grains
or everybody else likes it, so I should to.
Two things: 1. Should has no place in your pantry. 2. Stop buying it.
There are 1000’s of foods on this planet. Find something your family likes. Buy food your family will actually eat!!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to try new things – this whole page is aboutlearning to cook whatever you want!
But not at the expense of your pocket book and wasted food! By all means, try new ingredients or products just don’t buy the bulk version first! Find a smaller container, use it up, then if you actually liked it, stock up!
p.s. Now is a good time to go through your stock and find items that need to be donated or tossed!
LABEL AND DATE EVERYTHING ELSE.
A lot of foods come with dates on them that are easy to notice but if you buy in bulk or cook enough for leftovers you will need to label and date things on your own as well. It is as simple as writing with a sharpie or grease pencil on the container the name and date of the food item.
I like to use a lot of kitchen shorthand which logan has learned to read and understand but you should use whatever labelling system makes the most sense to you!
Always include the name and the date it was cooked and stored on.
I cannot stress this enough. Label and Date Everything. Everything. You think you will remember everything you threw in the freezer. You won’t! It will look like a brown blob of something in a month.
That weird rice thing you cooked that got lost in the back of the refrigerator?
What was that new-to-us seed we bought at the bulk market?
Label and Date.
Label and Date.
Label… and date.
ROTATE YOUR STOCK
This is truly the defining principle of FIFO.
Whenever you are adding to your stock you must rotate it by date. If everything is labelled, dated, organized from front to back, and being stored in the same place, this is super quick and easy!
Simply slide the older ones to the front and add the newest to the back.
Food items that an be stored in two locations (maybe refrigerated after opening) are organized using the same principles. The refrigerator stores the only open bottle and the pantry stores the unopened backstock. Oldest in front, newest in the back. That way when the original bottle is emptied it is easy to grab the front & next oldest bottle.
See?! What did I tell you?
Have I ever led you astray?! Streamlining your kitchen really is as simple as organizing by posted date, only buying what your family actually eats, appropriate labels and dates, and rotating your stock!
Good Luck on your restocking adventures! I love to see and hear about your adventures in the kitchen! Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram with @TheSundaySupp and #TheSundaySupp so I can cheer you on!