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.
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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