31 December 2010

Food Storage Friday - FIFO

When you are stocking up your pantry, and creating your food storage, the hardest thing to deal with is rotating that food storage. It's easier just to purchase it, and shove it on the shelf wherever you can find room, right? Well, yes - of course! - but this leads to waste, and the point of food storage is to save money!

Practice the FIFO system religiously. FIFO - First In, First Out. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to have a can shelf system such as the Shelf Reliance Cansolidator I reviewed in this column earlier this year, but you don't need a fancy store bought shelving system. If you Google FIFO plans online, you should be able to find homemade plans easily, or you can just stack them on the shelves you have. I use can flats to move everything in and out easily off the shelves. If the cardboard with logos drive you nuts (they do me, too), pick up sticky paper from your dollar store, and cover the edges with a more eye pleasing print.

You'll want to make sure that items with the shortest expiration date on them (as well as dented cans) are at the front so they can be used first. I write the dates on the top of my cans and other packaging with a Sharpie and it's worked quite well for me. If you purchase larger quantities of packaged goods, and all of the items on the flat are the same and the same expiration date, you can just write the date on the box (or just use a sticky note, but beware of them falling off).

If you are rotating your pantry well, you should rarely end up with an expired good, so you are saving money by not wasting food. When you are purchasing extra on sale, it's almost like an investment, so treat it as such! If you have the time, once a month you should check your pantry to be sure you haven't missed something expired, as well as being on the lookout for damaged goods (sometimes, even a can that's nowhere near the expiration date can go bad and bloat, or even leak!) and evidence of bugs or other vermin. This also allows you to see if you are running low on certain items, or if perhaps you are using more of a certain food than you were expecting.

As a reminder, the end of the year is a great time for picking up deals on food as stores go through and get rid of the last of the stock of items that just aren't selling well. If your favorite stores has an odds 'n ends section (it's usually near the back of the store) be sure to scope it out and see if there's anything good! If you see something you use, grab what you'll use in a reasonable time frame - you probably won't find it again.

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