Do You Follow FIFO? How To Be Smart About Stocking A Low-Waste Kitchen

The capsule wardrobe concept has been trending for a while now. And we actually think the ‘capsule’ concept applies well to our pantries right now too.

Paring back a kitchen pantry to the sustainable basics can have a profound effect on our health, our wallets — and even our sense of well-being. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, a family on a tight budget at home right now, or are fortunate enough to have a full, but messy pantry and are looking to reset, here are a few tips from TCM contributor, Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN on keeping a low-waste, but highly functional pantry…

Building a pantry has always been important. These days, a well-stocked pantry — along with fresh foods — can provide a sense of security amidst uncertain times. Swap out any of my recommendations for pantry staples for the next best option you have on hand or prefer!

Follow FIFO | FIFO means ‘first in – first out’. It’s so easy for fresh foods — especially fruits and veggies — to go bad before we have a chance to use them. Don’t let that dissuade you from shopping fresh! Plan meals so that you use what you have in the order you acquired it.

Freeze, blend or cook | To minimize food waste, many items can also be frozen or repurposed.

+ Grapes and apples that appear to be on their last legs can be blended into juice or cooked down on the stovetop and used to top yogurt or oatmeal! 

+ Hearty leafy greens such as kale and collards can be washed, dried and frozen for later use.

+ Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots can be washed, dried cut up and frozen for later use as well. (Spicy broccoli rabe below)

broccoli rabe


+ Winter squash and potatoes can be batch prepared and roasted with garlic and onion and eaten over the course of five days.

Share | These are extraordinary times that require grace and flexibility as we navigate a new world in 2020. This is a unique opportunity to make something out of nothing and find creative and delicious ways to stretch a dish. If you happen to make a bit extra, leave a box on your neighbors’ doorstep with an encouraging note!

Stocking up a pantry full of dried goods | …can be an affordable way to take care of healthy meals at home right now. Dry goods can be stored in their original packaging away from direct sunlight and heat. If you have the extra fridge space they can be stored in the fridge to extend the shelf life. Here is a simple list of ideas to stock up on at home to get you started…

Nuts + Grains

– rice (white, brown, back, red, jade)
– ancient /alt grains  (quinoa, millet, couscous, barley, wild rice, cornmeal)
– nuts/seeds of your choice
– pasta

– udon, buckwheat and ramen noodles

Jarred items

– dried herbs
– peppers
– oils
– vinegars

– artichokes

Boxed goods

– broths (reduced sodium, if needed)
– tomato sauce
– soups
– beans

– unsweetened non-dairy mylks


– beans
– fruits in water
– veggies, no added salt
– olives
– seafood
– evaporated milk

– tomato paste

Want to do a deep dive on your pantry? We’re here for it. Grab a cup of coffee and explore all our pantry content here. 

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