FIFO - or “first in, first out” - is a cost saving strategy currently used by many businesses. In terms of food waste, it’s the practice of taking “out” the first thing that went “in” to your fridge or pantry. It essentially means you don’t use (and ideally don’t buy) newer foods until older foods have been used up.
It’s a simple concept, but committing to it can greatly reduce food waste in homes and restaurants (in fact, many restaurants already practice this because they know the financial benefits very well).
Here are 4 really good reasons to practice FIFO in your home or restaurant.
Leftovers and “forgotten” foods are one of the greatest sources of food waste. It happens because we just don’t think about it. We forget. We tell ourselves we’ll get to it later. Start a new household or business habit of not touching new foods until older ones have been used up.
You paid for all that food! Letting it spoil is pretty close to throwing money directly in the trash.
Meal planning is one of the most effective ways of reducing food waste, but it’s a challenging habit to adopt. Many people find they just don’t know where to begin. Start by making a list of perishable food items you currently have. It gives you a great jumping off point for your plan and will result in a shorter grocery list (see point #2 - save money!).
An overcrowded refrigerator doesn’t run as efficiently. Because air can’t flow freely, it has to work harder to keep every corner cold. This can result in “warm” spots (areas that don’t get cold enough) and extreme cold spots near vents where food can develop frost. It also reduces the lifespan of your fridge because the motor has to work harder than it should.
When unloading groceries, put new foods towards the back and move older foods forward.
When meal planning, start with what you already have. Don’t add new items to your list until you’ve made plans for the food you already have.
Designate a section of your fridge the “use it NOW” section. Consider putting in a basket or box for items that need to be eaten ASAP.
Have a weekly FIFO night and plan a meal around everything that needs to get used up. For restaurants, if what you have can’t be put on the menu for some reason, maybe it can be prepared to treat your staff or used to experiment on new dishes.
Keep a food waste log. You can try your best and still end up with food waste. Keep a log of any food item thrown out and why. Knowing what you’re losing and why is a huge step towards fixing the problem.
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