Here’s another helpful little tip for y’all from the pro food world. It’s called FIFO and in any restaurant of quality, it’s practiced throughout each and every day.
It stand for
Get it? It’s how you organize your stuff so that things don’t go to waste. Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘OK, but I’m not a restaurant, so why would I need this?’ That’s a rhetorical question though, right? Lemme answer it with a few questions of my own.
Do you throw out what could and should be good leftovers out ’cause they didn’t get used in time?
A couple/few times a year, do you go through your fridge and freezer and cabinets and shelves and chuck a bunch of stuff that didn’t get used in time?
Do you have a bunch of sauces, spices, herbs and whatnot that are way past their prime, maybe even downright off?
Can you afford all that waste?
If you answered too yup, yeah, yes, and no, then it’s FIFO time in your house. A little discipline will go a long way toward correcting those problems.
In restaurants, every time we prep, open, use or otherwise handle food, we slap a label on them that says what it is, when we opened or made it, and how long it’s good for. If you have a food waste problem, here’s a big part of the solution. This simple manifestation of FIFO at home is so often not done, it’s scary; how often have you looked at a leftover and asked ‘When did we make that; is it three days or seven?’ Sound familiar?
The easy fix is to label it every time and it’s problem solved. Use a non-permanent marker on storage containers in the fridge. Use a permanent marker in the freezer and in your shelves. Get some little stick on labels for anything else. Do it with spices, herbs, and stuff from your dry storage that tend so last a long time.
The next manifestation is to physically FIFO your fridge, freezer and cabinets; oldest stuff goes to the top or the front and gets used first, before it goes bad and before anything newer is opened or bought. You spend a bunch of money, time and effort on food and cooking; spend a little more an incorporate FIFO practices in to your menu planning. If you don’t menu plan, start. There’s simple, easy, smart food management. Get your family involved so the effort isn’t wasted.
Do you buy stuff in bulk like we do? Do you sometimes cook a bunch more of something than you need for than next meal, to save time and energy? Does it always get used in time when you do that? If not, think about it and start FIFOing your leftovers. If you did a bunch of chicken and it needs to be used in three days or so, stack that container front and center where it can’t be missed. If you don’t want to eat chicken for three days straight, portion and freeze what won’t get used right away. Food and money not wasted = good practice.
Again, we do this in the cafe every day without fail; it’s how we keep you well fed and safe. Do the same at home and you’ll save money and eat better.