Organizing for FIFO food storage

In order to maintain the proper rotation of your food storage, you must utilize the principle of FIFO or First In, First Out. But, this often poses a dilemma with storage in that you find yourself having to somehow stack new cans at the back of an already mostly filled shelf. When you’re in a hurry, you might end up just shoving the older stuff to the back and placing the new items at the front.

There are a couple different ways to tackle this problem.

If you shop around a bit, you can find plastic racks designed for soda cans. They are set up such that you put new cans on the top of the rack and as you pull cans from the bottom, they roll through the rack. You may find they will fit your canned veggies and fruits rather well. Along these same lines, as mentioned in the Prepper’s Pocket Guide, you can use the cardboard 12 pack containers soda is often sold in for the same purpose. However, I’d suggest using a slim piece of cardboard between the top and bottom rows of cans to ensure the top ones don’t just fall straight down when you remove one of the bottom cans.

Another solution is to build a custom rack yourself. You can find a number of designs online, one of which is found here. That particular one can be made using a minimal amount of woodworking skills.

I’ve seen custom racks as large as store displays, which are great if you have space for such a monster. But few of us do have that sort of free space and have to make do with something smaller.

Remember, however you accomplish it, you must rotate your food storage to get the best bang for your buck.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

One thought on “Organizing for FIFO food storage”

  1. A fairly simple method I’ve used is to buy my canned foods in bulk from Sam’s club (as much as I can anyway) and simply keep the cans in their original boxes, then stack the boxes atop one another, using cans from the top-most box. I find this easier than rotating individual cans anyway.

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