Are you a FIFO convert yet? The first in, first out rule takes only a few minutes to master but can save you from forgetting about all sorts of foods before they go bad, not to mention a ton of cash in the long run. Read on to learn how to start using FIFO in your kitchen, and let us know in the comments some of your favorite tried-and-true storage tips to reduce waste.
What is FIFO?
It stands for First In, First Out. Use foods in the order that they were purchased (first in), using the oldest items sooner (first out) and the newer items later (last in, last out). Following FIFO can help eliminate food waste and even save money.
Take stock of things
Before your next Misfits Market delivery, take inventory of your fridge and pantry. Toss expired foods and repackage leftovers. Rearrange the oldest food in your fridge/pantry to be more accessible.
We follow a grouping method to keep things separate according to category. Cereals and grains are stored together, baking items go together, canned beans are kept separately. Figure out a system that works for you—make just enough space for what you need ahead of your next Misfits Market delivery.
Follow use-by dates
Organize by each item’s use-by date, placing short-dated (the first to expire) purchases in the front and those with longer shelf lives in the back.
Invest in a label maker
Organized kitchens are full of labels, labels, and more labels. They’re ideal for keeping track of when food was cooked, opened, or repackaged. Then, create your own system. For example: Almond Milk, opened May 10. Masking tape and a marker works, too.
Make labels visible
Unload your shopping bags, slap on your newly-made labels, and store foods with the labels facing forward. It will help you easily see what you have, encouraging you to eat it first.
And make storage containers invisible
Once you open something, whether it’s a bag of rice or a can of tomatoes, put any unused portion in clear reusable containers so you can easily see what’s inside. Then, use your new labeling system to date when it was opened so you know when to use it by.
Open like foods one at a time
Variety is the spice of life, but often having too many similar foods open at once can lead to unnecessary waste. If you have two similar items, like shredded sharp cheddar and shredded mild cheddar, open one first and use it completely before opening the other.
This one-food rule will depend on your household size (or if you eat cheese often, open as many packages as you want!), but can help keep things fresher, longer—and even help you meal plan so you’re not opening too many similar items at once.
Abigail Koffler is a native New Yorker and freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She writes This Needs Hot Sauce, a weekly food newsletter.