How Do You Use the FIFO Method To Restock Food?

How Do You Use the FIFO Method To Restock Food?
Restaurant Inventory - September 19, 2023 Written By: Krista Dinsmore

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Mastering the art of food inventory management is an essential skill for any culinary business, be it a bustling restaurant or a cozy cafe. Making sure that your food supplies are fresh and efficiently restocked, all while minimizing waste, requires a well-structured approach.

Among the various techniques available, one stands out as a tried-and-tested method - the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of implementing the FIFO method to streamline your restocking process and maintain the highest standards of quality for your customers. 

By understanding the key principles and following a few simple steps, you can elevate your inventory management game and ensure your establishment's continued success.

What Is The FIFO Method?

The First-In-First-Out method is a system where the oldest stock is used or sold first, ensuring that newer items remain at the back of the shelf. This simple but effective approach minimizes the risk of spoilage and reduces the likelihood of expired products. All of which helps guarantee customers receive the freshest goods possible.

To use the FIFO method in your restaurant, follow these steps. 

Step 1: Organize Your Storage Space

To implement the FIFO method successfully, it's crucial to have a well-organized storage area. 

No matter how big or small your establishment is, maintaining a clean and orderly space will facilitate a smooth inventory rotation.

Start by grouping similar items together, keeping them separate from different products. Invest in sturdy shelves and storage containers to prevent cross-contamination and maintain the integrity of your supplies. By categorizing products, you can easily identify which items are approaching their expiration date and prioritize their use accordingly.

Step 2: Check Expiration Dates Regularly

Vigilance is key to ensuring the success of the FIFO method. As you restock your inventory, always check expiration dates on new stock and incoming deliveries. Use these dates as a guide to determine the order in which products should be used or sold.

For perishable items such as dairy products, meat, and fresh produce, be even more meticulous. Ensure your staff is well-informed about the importance of adhering to the FIFO method to maintain high-quality standards and prevent foodborne illnesses.

Step 3: Implement a Clear Labeling System

Without a clear labeling system, even the most organized storage area can quickly descend into chaos. Implement a standardized labeling process that includes the product name, purchase date, and expiration date. This practice will make it easier for your staff to identify which items need to be prioritized for use or sale. 

You can also consider using color-coded labels to differentiate between various categories, further streamlining the process. Regularly inspect your labeled inventory to ensure labels are legible, and replace any damaged or smudged ones promptly.

Step 4: Train Your Staff

Efficient inventory management is a team effort, so making sure your staff is well-trained is essential. Host training sessions to educate your team on the FIFO method and its significance in maintaining quality and reducing waste.

Encourage open communication within your staff, so any concerns regarding inventory rotation or product expiration can be addressed promptly. Reinforce the importance of following the FIFO method consistently to uphold your establishment's reputation for fresh and delicious offerings.

Step 5: Monitor Stock Movement

As you put the FIFO method into action, closely monitor stock movement to identify potential areas for improvement. Regularly conduct stock checks, noting any discrepancies or instances where the method might not have been followed correctly.

Make adjustments and provide feedback to your staff to fine-tune the process and ensure its effectiveness. Emphasize the positive impact of the FIFO method on customer satisfaction, waste reduction, and cost savings to motivate your team to maintain its implementation.

Using Inventory Management Software to Implement the FIFO Method at Your Restaurant 

Implementing and managing the FIFO method manually can be a challenging task, especially for busy restaurants with high inventory turnover. This is where inventory management software comes to the rescue. 

Inventory management software is a powerful tool that can be used to streamline the process and ensure the FIFO method is consistently followed. 

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Here are just some of the ways this technology can revolutionize food inventory management for restaurants:

  1. Automated Tracking and Alerts: Inventory management software allows restaurants to track stock levels, purchase dates, and expiration dates automatically. As new items are added to the inventory, the software records their details and organizes them based on the FIFO principle. The system can then generate real-time alerts, notifying staff about items approaching their expiration dates, ensuring they are used or sold first.

  2. Accurate and Timely Reporting: With inventory management software, restaurant owners and managers can access comprehensive reports detailing the status of their inventory. These reports include data on product turnover rates, stock movement, and expiration trends. Armed with this information, decision-makers can optimize purchasing patterns, reduce excess stock, and maintain precise inventory levels.

  3. Streamlined Ordering Process: The software can be integrated with suppliers and vendors, creating a seamless ordering process. By analyzing sales data and inventory levels, the system can automatically generate purchase orders based on anticipated demand and FIFO guidelines. This not only saves time but also ensures that new stock always aligns with the proper inventory rotation.

  4. Barcode Scanning and Labelling: Implementing barcode scanning and labelling within the software further enhances the FIFO method's accuracy and efficiency. As new items arrive, they can be scanned, and the system will automatically assign the correct expiration date and organize them within the inventory based on FIFO principles.

  5. Reduction in Waste and Spoilage: By consistently following the FIFO method with the assistance of inventory management software, restaurants can significantly reduce food waste and spoilage. The software's ability to track expiration dates and prompt timely usage of products ensures that items are not left to expire, leading to substantial cost savings.

  6. Improved Compliance and Quality Control: In the food industry, adherence to compliance and quality control standards is paramount. Inventory management software helps maintain these standards by ensuring that older products are used or sold before newer ones, guaranteeing the highest quality and safety for customers.

  7. Enhanced Forecasting and Seasonal Adjustments: Inventory management software enables restaurants to analyze historical data and identify seasonal trends. With this information, establishments can adjust their inventory levels and restocking strategies accordingly, preparing for peak seasons and minimizing waste during slower periods.

Incorporating the FIFO method into your food restocking process is a surefire way to maintain the highest quality of your products and boost overall efficiency. By organizing your storage space, checking expiration dates diligently, implementing a clear labeling system, and training your staff, you can master the art of inventory management.

Embrace this inventory technique, and you'll soon witness the positive impact it has on your business's bottom line and customer satisfaction, setting you apart as a true master of food management.

Interested in learning more? Contact Sculpture Hospitality today and find out how our inventory management system can help you improve your restaurant’s profitability. 

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A Complete Buyer's Guide to Food & Beverage Inventory Management Systems

With around 25 to 35 percent of a restaurant’s operating budget dedicated to purchasing food (that’s not even taking into account beverage inventory costs for the bar), proper inventory management can significantly improve expected revenue.

To maximize profits you need to improve visibility and control over your restaurant or bar’s inventory. 

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