When you bring provisions on board, do you just stuff them in anywhere? Learn how to do it to ensure that you'll use the oldest first!

Rotate Your Stock

When you bring a bunch of fresh provisions on the boat, where do you put them?  Do you just open the lockers, find an empty spot, and stuff them in OR do you “rotate your stock?”

Years ago, working in a WaWa (sort of like a 7-11), “rotate your stock” was prominently stamped on many of the cartons that I’d have to empty onto the shelves.  And it was on the sign over the time clock and again on the inside of the rest room door.  It obviously made an impression on me.

Basically, rotating your stock means that you put the newest items in back of the old stock, so that you’ll use (or sell, in the case of the convenience store) the older stuff first.  And that way, hopefully, nothing will end up being so old that it’s no good.

I know, I know . . . it’s a pain to take a bunch of cans out of the locker to put the new cans underneath, or behind.  I always tried to figure a way to make it easier.  Unfortunately, I never did.

Instead, I finally came to terms with the whole process and used it as a chance to make sure that there weren’t bad things lurking — I’d check for bugs, cracked packages, things that had slipped out of position and so on.  Periodically — admittedly not every time — I’d take the time to wipe out a locker with a mild bleach solution.  I know that I found a number of potential problems before they really became problems, such as the bags of rice that were blocking the air vent for the refrigerator motor and the flour canister that had a minute crack.

And for things that are stored in multiple places — I tucked boxed milk in a number of places on the boat — chances are good that one location is the convenient one where you always go first.  Yeah, you guessed it — you really should move items from the less convenient locations to the convenient one, rather than just stick the new stuff in the empty space there.  Some day, you’ll need that extra stock and be glad that it’s not three years old!

It’s a good habit to get into . . . know of any other good ones when storing food?

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  • Donna Chiappini
    Posted at 08 May 2014 Reply

    Carolyn: Have you ever done an article on what is the best vacuum system for a sailboat. We have miniature shop vac from Home Depot and it’s a back breaker. J would like to find something that can get into this difficult places like under and behind the oven/stove, under the mattresses, when the floor boards are removed etc. any help would be appreciated.

  • Shireen Beeson Reynolds
    Posted at 12 May 2015 Reply

    I always use a Magic Marker to write the purchase date on the packages or cans to ensure I am rotating stock.

  • Ralph
    Posted at 21 July 2015 Reply

    DATE EVERYTHING! It helps with rotation, freshness, learning your usage rates, and finding the right receipts.

  • Lamarr Harding
    Posted at 18 August 2016 Reply

    I have a rubber date stamp and stamp pad. But, sometimes, if I’m trying a different brand, or craving something dreadfully I’ll open the new can first.

  • Hazel Peterson
    Posted at 14 February 2017 Reply

    I’ve been trying to teach my husband to store foods correctly for forty years!

  • Jo-Anne Mason
    Posted at 14 February 2017 Reply

    Give it up Hazel men don’t store they stack.

  • Susan Kam
    Posted at 20 October 2017 Reply

    It’s not so much of an issue these days since most packaged food has a best before date, but I used to write the date purchased on the can or whatever with permanent marker.

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