Keeping track of food storage can be a big headache as you use what you store and need to keep replacing it. It is time-consuming to record everything you use on a list or even on the computer. It’s also easy to forget! You can keep track of your food storage without writing it down; the key is in how you organize your storage space.

As you buy food storage, store each kind of food in the same place. Arrange containers in rows so you can see at a glance how much of each food you have. It’s simple then to remember and mentally note what needs to be replaced as you use it. Remember to date all containers, so you can use rows of food stored the longest first.

Here are four storage ideas that make rotating food simple.

Shelves

You may be lucky enough to have a big room with built-in shelves. If you have only a small space or room, you can buy reinforced heavy-duty metal shelves that you assemble yourself. These will handle the weight of cans and are relatively inexpensive.

Store food in categories on your shelves, either in boxes of No. 10 cans, cases or even stackable half-case cardboard trays of canned foods, often stocked this way at the grocery store. If shelves are deep, you can keep older boxes or trays in the front, and add new ones to the back of each section. It’s simple to notice when you’ve used a box, case or half-case tray in each food category. You know then that it’s time to replace that food.

Commercial slanted shelves are expensive and are not necessary to rotate food. Inexpensive shelves allow you to spend more of your money on food.

Bookshelves

You can get a surprising amount of food in bookshelves provided they are strong enough. If you build them yourself, shelves should not be too long and should be made of solid wood. You may find sturdy bookshelves at a store selling used furniture. (In earthquake-prone areas, attach tall bookcases to a wall.) Stacking like food together in rows makes it easy to see when you’ve used a row. Then you know it’s time to restock.

Stacks

Stack buckets of like food together. When a bucket is missing, you know it’s time to replace it.

You may also stack No. 10 cans in their boxes or canned food in cases. When you use a box, you know it’s time to buy another one.

You can combine stacks of boxes and cases with heavy-duty shelves, which are stocked with one box or case of each kind of food. When you empty a row of food on the shelves, restock from your stacks of food and buy a new box or case to replace it. This method gives you easy access to stacked foods, making them easy to use.

Under a bed

You can store food in No. 10 cans or buckets in rows under a bed as a bed frame. Leave one container of each food out so you can use it. Once this food is used, take a new container of food from one side of the bed, and replace it with a newly purchased container on the other side. It helps to have a slick floor or a smooth piece of wood for this idea. If you store food under a single bed, it’s easy to lift the mattress to replace food under it.

You can also make a cardboard tray from a furniture box to fit sideways under a bed. Canned foods can be organized on their sides in rows. Take older food from one side of the bed, and roll new cans in their rows on the other.

One last rotation idea

I learned from experience to keep some of every food I store in the kitchen. I’m a woman in a hurry, and at mealtime I fix what is before my eyes. It’s easy to forget what I’ve stored if it’s not visible and easy to access.

Visually keeping track of food storage makes inventory so simple. You never have to worry about keeping a written record. It makes rotating your food amazingly easy!