Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rotating Food Storage

"If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith"
- 1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV)

If you build a food storage (and you should :-) it's important to rotate the food. By this I don't mean spinning cans or turning them upside down but rather establishing a system whereby you eat the oldest food first. This is not rocket science but it's not trivial either.

If your food package comes with a use-by date, wonderful! It is becoming much more common to see this. For dood without a date my wife uses a permanent marker to write the purchase month and year on the packaging. Even if the food comes with a expiration date you might want to lable the top or front with big easy to see numbers. It can be a chore tying to find and decipher dates on items.

Once you know the age of your food, you need to organize it. Back-to-front is popular, especially with cans. Put the new can in the back and take from the front. Moving the cans forward manually is a pain so there are many clever inventions online that put cans on a ramp so they automatically roll forward.
The picture at top shows a home made solution from ThenSheMade.blogspot.com.
You can buy can organizes starting at $27 and going up to hundreds of dollars at sites like http://www.shelfreliance.com/food-rotation-systems
Or checkout this 500 can system (homemade) hidden behind the family couch, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCnXfO7YMfk

What about boxes? We use a left-to-right system, place new on left, take from the right. You will have to physically push the boxes to the right as you use them unless you use a "ring buffer". In computer programming a ring buffer is a list that loops back up itself to make a circle. Huh? you say. How can you tell where a circle starts and stops? For that you need a pointer or marker that moves.

Here's an example. Assume you have space for three items. The oldest item will be marked with a color sticker or rock or whatever. Items are purchased in alphabet ordering , a, b, c, d, ....
b a
c b a
c b d  (we use 'a' and mark the item to its left a the oldest. 'd' fills the gap left from 'a')
c e d  (use 'b' and fill gap with 'e'. Oldest is now 'c')
f e d   (can not move left from 'c' so we loop back to the start for the oldest item)

This system can be tricky to get used to but has the advantage that only the marker moves; no boxes need be pushed around.

Bottom Line

What food storage system works for you?

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