In an emergency situation, food is going to be one of the first supplies you need, right after water. For that reason, food storage is a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to start doomsday prepping. There are many food storage methods used by preppers, but one of the easiest things you can do as a beginner is start a “first in, first out” food rotation. In this article we’ll explain what the FIFO food rotation method is, how it can help you save money and prepare for emergencies of all sizes, and how you can get started. You’ll learn how to start doomsday prepping using one of the easiest and most affordable strategies.
What is the FIFO method?
Simply put, the FIFO food storage method means to stock up on shelf stable foods that you already eat, where you consume food in the order it was bought. This is a stock rotation system that helps build up an emergency supply of food while retaining food safety and freshness.
FIFO can also be used in conjunction with other food storage methods to ensure you've always got an emergency food supply.
A FIFO example.
Consider foods like rice and beans. These food items have a long shelf life, which make them excellent candidates for the FIFO storage system. If you, like many people, eat rice and beans frequently, you are likely already buying these foods regularly. In this case, a simple way to apply the FIFO method would be to buy rice and beans in larger quantities, so that the amount you have on hand will last you longer, in case of supply shortages or other emergency situations.
So if you buy a box of rice once per week, you could apply FIFO by buying a large bag of rice from a wholesale store like Costco, which may last a month. This way, if your grocery store is out of stock one week, you have no need to worry, as you've already got 3 more weeks of supply. You can continue to "get ahead" by buying another large bag before your first bag is out, so now you have 2-3 months of rice on hand.
The key is to apply a "first in, first out" strategy to consumption. So you always eat the food with the soonest expiration first to ensure food safety.
This example demonstrates the main FIFO principle - if there are foods you already know you are going to consume, buy those ahead of time to guarantee your supply.
What are the alternatives to the FIFO system?
FIFO food rotation is just one of many methods used by preppers to ensure they maintain an adequate food supply during a SHTF situation.
The main alternative for most preppers is to use pre-packaged emergency food supplies like the prepper buckets offered by ReadyWise. There are many companies that sell emergency food stock items. They typically provide sturdy containers, with packaging that ensures food hygiene standards and distant expiration dates, and bulk supply that will provide long term rations for multiple people.
The benefits of these are that they last longer than almost any food you would store using FIFO. And they are more compact, which means they're easier to store and transport in case of emergency.
But on the other hand, they are relatively expensive, and require you to have a budget above and beyond what you typically spend on groceries, since you would only eat these foods in case of a true emergency.
Ultimately, most preppers should aim to have at least some stock of pre-packaged emergency food supplies. But this is a more advanced strategy, and we recommend that beginners start with a FIFO food storage system, which is more cost effective and more helpful in realistic emergency scenarios.
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Who should use the FIFO food storage system?
The great part about the FIFO food storage procedure, in contrast to these alternatives, is that it works for everyone. You don't need to have thousands of extra dollars on hand - even buying an extra week or two of shelf stable foods will help be prepared for emergency situations. You don't have to spend extra money on MREs and other food that you would never eat except in case of an emergency.
But if you are interested in longer term prepping, you can use the FIFO system to scale up your stock items, building a supply that will last for several months. As long as you eat the newer food before the older foods, you can avoid food waste and food hygiene issues. And you can scale this stock rotation system for quite a while before you need to consider alternative strategies.
For people wondering how to start prepping on a budget, the FIFO system is a great way to start. Because you are stocking supplies you would already be buying anyways. The only difference is that with the FIFO method, you are taking a more systematic approach to food rotation.
What are the benefits of a FIFO food rotation system?
Prepares you for SHTF
This is the most obvious reason to consider food storage systems - in case of emergency. There are a tons of scenarios where you'd benefit from a backup supply of food storage. Supply chain shortages causing empty shelves at the grocery store. Gas prices causing trips to the supermarket to become more expensive. Natural disasters like ice storms that make travel to the supermarket more difficult. Social unrest scenarios where travel outside of the home becomes dangerous.
As you can see, it's not just a far-fetched apocalypse scenario where food storage becomes a necessity. There are various situations of both small and large severity where you'd benefit from having an extra supply of food on hand.
But there is another benefit of using a FIFO procedure for food storage in today's inflationary environment - it saves you money.
Food prices have been rapidly increasing, as much as 36% for some popular foods. That means for all the food you purchase now that you'll consume in the future, you're locking in savings by avoiding any price increases that occur during that time frame. So not only does the FIFO procedure not cost you extra, like other food prepper methods do, it actually saves you money over time.
What types of foods can I use with a FIFO strategy?
The key with the FIFO procedure is that you store "normal" foods in a way that maximizes their expiration date, instead of using flavorless, "last resort" freeze-dried food. This is a trade-off though, as the set of foods that can be used with FIFO can be limited.
The easiest options are those foods which are naturally shelf stable - rice, beans, canned goods, and many boxed, processed and freezer foods. If you're uncertain, you'll want to check the use by date and expiration dates to avoid consuming expired foods.
For foods with shorter expiration dates, like meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, FIFO food storage can still apply, but you'll need some extra equipment to store these effectively.
Many of these foods can be frozen, but to ensure food safety, you'll want to seal them properly to avoid exposure. Tools like vacuum sealers are indispensable in this case.
If you get serious about keeping a longer term food supply, you'll likely run out of space in your main freezer. In this case, an additional deep freezer will come in handy. Not only does this give you extra food storage space, but it also helps with food safety as your deep freezer will be opened less often, which reduced air exposure.
How to start a prepper food pantry.
As we've hopefully convinced you, the FIFO system is an extremely easy way to get started on your preparedness journey. On your next visit to the supermarket, grab an extra bag of the shelf stable foods you're already buying. Do this with each visit, and in no time you'll have a food storage system ready to withstand any crisis that might come your way.