FOOD STORAGE – Date and Rotate


Rotate your food storage! One of the best ways to make your food storage a success is to practice good food product rotation. Organization and Rotation.

Let me explain what I mean:


Some of these food items are somewhat set-and-forget for long term packed foods – particularly dry grains, etc., which are packed for decades of longevity.

However there are many food types that should be consumed within a reasonable time frame. This will minimize spoilage and maximize freshness and nutritional value.

By rotating your food storage inventory, you will be slowly consuming, and ideally replenishing your that inventory.

[ Read: ‘Use-by’ and Sell-by’ dates ]

Here’s an effective way to properly rotate your foods:

While organizing food on a shelf (e.g. cans of SPAM, veggies, chicken, beef stew, whatever…), on any given shelf, place the newest food furthest to the left. In this way if you always take food to eat from the right-most location – you will be assured that it is the oldest (which should be consumed first). This is known as FIFO, First In – First Out.

Here’s what we do:

Take From The Right

For example, one of my shelves may contain a variety of canned beans. When I’m ready to grab a can, I will take the one to the right of the other cans. Always the furthest on the right.

When I restock, I stock from the left, pushing the remaining cans of beans to the right. This technique always ensures that the can on the right is the oldest can (which should be consumed first).

So, you see, you are ‘rotating’ without having to think about it as long as you follow the ‘take from the right rule’ every time.

Take From The Front

When your shelves are deep enough to store multiple rows of food items. Stack the newest items in the back while moving the older items to the front. This will assure that what you take from the front is the oldest – which should be consumed first – ensuring proper food rotation.

All you need to remember is ‘left to right’ and ‘back to front’. A simple way to properly rotate your food storage.


It is also good practice to get into the habit of dating your long-term storage foods when you get them or pack them.

Use a ‘Sharpie’ marker. Write the year-month (2014-04) on the top of a can, on a box, or on a piece of tape affixed to a 5-gallon bucket of long-term food storage, etc. Whatever works for you.

Having a visual reference date of your various foods within your food storage is a valuable indicator, and will help you to keep your food rotation practices in check.

It’s a simple thing, and is well worth remembering.