Prepare the Kitchen for Vacation

Going on vacation takes some preparation, we all know that. The suitcases must be packed, bills paid, mail stopped, pets delivered, appliances unplugged… and don’t forget all the food that will spoil during a prolonged absence!

Vacations present just one more occasion to put forth an asserted effort to keep foods from ending up in the landfills and adding yet more to the food waste problem. Here are some suggestions to try and prevent the foods in the kitchen from being wasted each time need to be left behind.

Prepare the Kitchen for Vacation

The refrigerator needs a good look-over before heading out on any vacation. How hard of a look it needs depends upon the length of the vacation. A short vacation might mean just passing off the jug of milk to a neighbor whereas a long one could involve emptying the entire contents, cleaning it out and then unplugging the appliance – that will save some electricity but it’s pretty extreme. We’re going to deal with the mid-range vacation and just point out a few ideas to save the foods that may get left behind.

The foods that need to be examined when leaving the house or apartment for an extended time are the ones with a use-by date. Remember that a “best-by date” is only a recommendation from the manufacturer for “best” quality and we all know by now that date extends in most all cases, with the length of time depending on the product. So, protect the perishable foods from spoiling while away and then check the individual pages of EatByDate for the other foods once returning back home.

First, check the counter

Foods that get used often and are thus kept handy on the counter may not survive as long as the trip does.

  • Stick the butter in the refrigerator and the bread in the freezer. They’ll both be just fine in those spots, no matter how long the vacation.
  • The bananas can be placed into the freezer, but only if these instructions are followed.
  • Tomatoes will also require special instructions if they need to be frozen to last.
  • Next, check the refrigerator

    Lots of foods will last here, but many will not survive.

  • Start with the Tupperware. If the vacation is for more than a week, then unfortunately most leftovers cannot survive until the return. Some leftovers can be wrapped and frozen, but many just don’t freeze that well or were already frozen in their past so aren’t great candidates. Try to finish off any existing leftovers or pass them off to friends, but if that’s not humanly possible… and we say this with deep regret… they are better tossed into the compost then left in the fridge.
  • Any fresh meats should be frozen for safe keeping. Be sure to wrap them well to prevent freezer burn.
  • Fish should always be frozen, but if it was previously frozen please read these safety guidelines before refreezing fish.
  • Check the Deli drawer.
    Shred any hunks of cheese and then place them into a freezer safe bag and then into the freezer. Yes, you can freeze cheese!
  • Check the Vegetable drawer.
    Many vegetables will freeze well, but may need special handling to taste great once they are thawed. Other vegetables that contain a very high water content, such as lettuce, will NOT freeze well at all so don’t even bother.
  • Scramble the eggs and then place them into a freezer safe container and then the freezer. Yes, you can freeze eggs if you follow this procedure first.
  • Place the yogurt into the freezer. Yes, you can freeze yogurt.
  • Potatoes have a pretty long shelf life, so depending on the vacation length, they should be fine. If freezing is required to keep them, there are special instructions required.
  • Freeze unused liquids. Whether it be broth, coffee or juice – fill the holes of a muffin pan with the liquid and freeze until solid. Once frozen, pop them into a freezer safe bag for safe keeping while you’re gone and then return back to easy single serve defrosting.
  • Check the Freezer

    Although freezing is an indefinite form of storage, not everything will last inside forever.

  • Make sure that the freezer is working properly if it has been neglected for too long.
  • Be sure that things are wrapped properly and sealed tightly and that the freezer door is tightly shut once done.
  • It’s more important to check inside the freezer upon returning from vacation and look for signs of aging, such as freezer burn and icy crystal build up, on the individual items contained within.
  • Prepare the Kitchen for Vacation

    Additional Information

    To find the shelf life of dairy products, see our dairy menu, drinks can be chosen from our drink menu, fruits from our fruit menu, vegetables from our vegetable menu, proteins from our protein menu, grains from our grain menu, and then sweets and other foods can be found from our other menu.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

    SEARCH Eat By Date