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Check Your Pantry Before Vacation

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You’ve spent a lot of time and effort building up a pantry stockpile that will keep your family well-fed and your grocery budget in check. Keep your food investment safe and healthy by prepping the pantry before taking a vacation.

Here are five steps to take before you head out on your grand adventure this summer.

Menu plan with what’s on hand

At least a week before you are scheduled to leave, take stock of what is in your fridge and make plans to clear out as much as you can. Have lots of lettuce and veggies? Then it may be time for a salad night. Eggs can be used in omelets while leftover meats can go in casseroles. In addition, avoid making more juice or buying perishables that won’t get used up before you leave.

Clear out perishables

When you get closer to your departure date, it is time to clear out any perishables left in the fridge. Nothing is worse than coming home from vacation to spoiled milk and stinky yogurt! There are a couple ways to take care of the straggler items left in your fridge or on the shelves.

  • Determine what could be taken with you: Veggies paired with dressing for dipping can make for a healthy snack while traveling. Yogurt, cheese and lunchmeat sandwiches can also make for portable meals on the go.

  • Freeze what you can: Virtually every food can be frozen so consider moving bread, butter and other items to the freezer. Even milk and eggs (raw and out of the shell) can be frozen and then used later for baking.

  • Toss the rest: Finally, there may be some items you’ll be unable to use before you leave or that you won’t have time to prep for the freezer – such as blanching veggies. For these items, the garbage or compost pile may be your only option. If possible, get food out to the curb before you leave. Otherwise, make sure you move your garbage outside and store it in a container where it will be secure from animals.

Protect your food from pests

Most shelf-stable items won’t be in danger of spoiling while you are gone but they could make for a tasty treat for insects and other pests. Hopefully, you are already taking steps to protect your pantry items from unwanted guests, but it is especially important if you are going to be gone for a while.

Get food up off the floor and store grains and baking supplies in airtight containers. Place any open food packaging inside zippered baggies. If possible, move flour and other insect magnets to the freezer. Large bags of pet food can be put in a large plastic bin or container with a snug lid.

Keep your freezer foods safe

The freezer is the safest place for your food…so long as everything stays frozen. Before leaving, double check the power cord and temperature settings. As a fail-safe, I recommend placing a baggie of ice cubes in each freezer before you leave. If you come how to a solid mass of ice in the baggie, you know your freezer defrosted and refroze at some point in your absence.

Have a plan for your return

Finally, since you are clearing out the perishables, have a plan for meals upon your return. Decide in advance what you will be eating after the vacation until you are able to head to the store to restock. For example, while clearing out your fridge, you might make a meal to freeze and then cook on your return and perhaps it will be oatmeal for breakfast the next morning.

Your vacation should be a time of rest and relaxation. By taking a few steps, you can come home to a clean fridge and clean shelves that will help ease the transition back to regular life.

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Josh Elledge is the Chief Executive “Angel” of SavingsAngel, Inc. – launched from his home in January 2007. A husband and father of three, he now appears each week on television, in eight newspapers, and a number of radio stations across the country teaching families how to cut their grocery bill in half using the Internet. Elledge created the technology found on through the need to save his own family’s money. Successfully able to cut his own grocery bill from $600 a month to less than $300 a month, his message has reached hundreds of thousands of families. is now growing rapidly throughout the country. You can watch a short video at that will explain more information about how to cut your own grocery bill in half with the help of!

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