Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stock Rotation - An in-depth, fresh look

Stores that sell food, small and large, use a practice called stock rotation in order to get rid of older food products. When subscribing to this practice, newer products are placed behind the older ones. This way customers will take the older product that sits in the front of the self. We all hope that customers will not reach to the back of the shelf in order to pick the freshest item.

Many years ago, when I was waiting tables in various NY state diners, I used this practice when I was maintaining my tables. At the end of my shift I would take the salt shakers from, let's assume, table #1 and use it to fill the rest of the salt shakers in my station. The next day I would take the salt shaker from table #2 and use it to fill the rest of the shakes in my station. Then I used the same method with the pepper shakers as well. This way the salt and pepper was always fresh and properly maintained. Of course, I was the only wait staff that followed this procedure. But, I digress.

I was thinking of all this earlier today as I was putting dishes away and I noticed that some of us haven't been subscribing to this practice at home. I say this without trying to be pretentious or hypocritical because I really think that it is necessary and people need to subscribe to this practice at homes everywhere.

Here are some practical, step-by-step examples that clearly illustrate stock rotation at home. I will use the first and easiest method called circular rotation by force of stock rotation using two stacks of soup bowls.

As you can see I have two stacks of soup bowls on a shelf. Since the middle stack is closest to us we tend to use it all the time ignoring the stack to the right.

After we use a few bowls for various reasons the two stacks of bowls may look like the following picture. Stay with me now. I don't want to lose anyone here due to boredom.

The proper action to take here is the following. Move the bowls from the rightmost area of the self on top of the middle stack. After that move, the shelf will look like this. 

As you add new bowls to the shelf you will starting stacking them to the right of the shelf where the empty spot was.

If you start with the above configuration and you use all bowls in the middle, you will end up with the following configuration.

The proper move will be to move/slide the bowls from the right to the middle of the shelf leaving the right area empty.

As you return the bowls to the shelf, naturally, you will add them to the right of the shelf. The following image demonstrates this.

This reminds me of a problem computer science students solve when they are taking Data Structures 101, called The Tower of Hanoi.

But, let's stay on task here. Next I would like to illustrate the in-place stock rotation. This method is useful when you don't have the luxury of working with two stacks. Keep reading...

This time focus your attention on the left side of the shelf where the small, dessert plates are located. As you can see the stack is full and no action needs to be taken at the moment.

Let's say that you use a few plates and the stack of dessert plates is reduced, as illustrated in the following picture.

The proper, prudent move will be to slide the remaining plates a little to the right of the shelf, thus leaving a void behind. 

Now bring the "new" plates and place them in the area where the void is.

Then, pick up the plates that you moved over earlier to the side to create the void and gently place them on top of the "new" plates. This way you have placed the "old" plates on top of the stack having the "new" plates on the bottom. Pure GENIUS!

I remember taking a psychology class where I learned about people being anal-retentive. I think this blog entry highlights my personality and I hope you follow my lead in organizing and rotating your dishes, glasses, clothes, and just about every set of objects in your life.


  1. I miss the constant posts by the Grilling Greek. Hope he's ok.

  2. Dear gammy.

    The Grilling Greek is taking a few days off to sharpen the pencils and meditate.