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What to Do with Food When Moving:

7 Steps to Reduce Food Waste

There are so many things to think about while getting ready to move out that it’s only normal to fail to do something simply because you forget about it. In such super-busy and rather stressful situations, a good moving checklist should help you keep track of all the important tasks so that you optimize your pre-move time and keep the entire house move as organized as you possibly can.

However, even really good moving checklists won’t always remind you to do something about your food supplies. That’s right – you should do something about the food in your home so that Moving day won’t find you with your kitchen cupboards, pantry, refrigerator, and freezer all full to the brim with various types of food items.

What should you do with your food before moving? It’s wrong to throw away food that is perfectly fine for consumption. But it’s also pointless, at least in most relocation cases, to pack and move all the food supplies you have in your home: frozen and refrigerated food, canned goods, perishables, and non-perishables.

Your move-out day is just around the corner when you realize you have tons of food items in your home and you don’t really have any great ideas about what to do with them. You’re not supposed to pack and move all the food in your home, are you? Do you give away some of those food supplies to your neighbors and friends? Or should you donate them to charitable organizations that will take them?

The good news is that you’ve got plenty of good options here. Read on to learn what you should do with your food when moving out – the 7 steps you need to take to make sure you reduce food waste when moving house.


Step ONE. Inventory the food items you have

When wondering what to do with your food supply prior to moving out, the first step you need to take is to determine what food items you have in your home at the time. And to be able to do just that, you’ll need to do a complete inventory of your food supplies.

Complete a full inventory of the food in your home prior to moving out. Go through your fridge, freezer, pantry, and of course – all your kitchen cupboards to assess what you have. All in all, you’ll have to sort your food items into several different categories depending on their nature:

  • Frozen food items: meat, vegetables, bread, pizza, ice-cream, etc.
  • Refrigerated food: meat, seafood, eggs, milk, cheese, cream, butter, sauces, condiments, fruit juices, etc.
  • Canned foods: meat, fruits, vegetables, soups, etc.
  • Boxed food items: cereals, snacks, chips, grains, etc.
  • Food products in glass bottles: cooking oil, olive oil, dressings, sauces, etc.
  • Cooking and baking supplies: flour, sugar, dry pasta, etc.

The easiest way to inventory your food before moving out is to take a pen and a notepad and just write down all the perishable and non-perishable foods you currently have in your home. Of course, you can also choose to create a digital inventory on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop – either the food inventory method is fine as long as you feel comfortable creating it.

Step TWO. Get rid of expired food items

Once you’ve gone through your entire food supply and have sorted it out into various groups, you should sit down and prepare a fairly simple yet effective plan about what you should do with your food when moving to another house.

Basically, you have a limited number of options when it comes to your food prior to moving out – TOSS, USE UP, GIVE AWAY, DONATE, PACK & MOVE. Each one of these reasonable options is explained in detail below.

The second step is to look for any food products that had expired before you had the chance to consume them. Remember that you won’t be able to donate or give away any expired foods so the only thing you can do is to throw them away or recycle them before Moving day.

So, go through the expiration dates of all food items and set aside the ones you should have consumed days, weeks, or even months prior to that moment in time. Then, just leave them to be recycled in an environmentally friendly way: throw away all glass receptacles such as bottles, jars, etc. and all cardboard containers (milk cartons, cardboard boxes and packages, etc.) in the designated recycling bins.

Step THREE. Use up most perishable foods before moving out

To reduce food waste, the best course of action is to try and use most of your leftover food before the scheduled move-out date. Ideally, you will be able to come up with a plan to put to good use the food products in your home fairly early in your preparation.

Here are some tips on how to use up food before moving:

  • Stop buying new food as much as possible and focus on using up the food items you currently have in the fridge, freezer, pantry, and cupboards.
  • Take out your trusted recipe book (don’t pack it yet) and start cooking the leftover food supply, whenever possible. As a bonus to enjoying delicious home-made meals, you’ll save some money too by not eating out or ordering in.
  • Make the whole idea of using up your perishables more interesting by encouraging each family member to find good recipes online that include the food items you already have in the home.

Remember that the food items in your fridge and freezer are your priority when it comes to using your perishables when moving to another home. That way, a minimal amount of food will be wasted and you’ll feel good about not having to throw away any good food.
And yes, it’s much easier to transport or give away non-perishable food products that have not been opened yet (still closed up and sealed).

Step FOUR. Share some food with friends and neighbors

Most of the times, you won’t be able to eat up your leftover food supplies before it’s time to move out. In such cases, it’s perfectly okay to offer non-perishable food items to friends and neighbors. After all, you have the perfect excuse – you’re leaving the place and you can’t take all that food with you due to the higher transportation costs or lack of space in the new place. Knowing that, your pals won’t feel uneasy about the offer or maybe even get offended in any way.

A day or two prior to Moving day, invite over some neighbors or friends who live nearby and show them the non-perishable food products from your pantry and kitchen cupboards – the ones that you have decided not to take with you. Let them take whatever they like and don’t feel sorry about the entire idea at all – in most cases, it’ll be easier and cheaper to replace those food items than to pack and move them to the new home.

Another thing you can do is to invite your friends and closest neighbors over to a goodbye party, or even better – ask them to come over to help you pack (aka a packing party). Then, you can demonstrate your cooking skills by using predominantly the food supply in the house, with minimum trips to the grocery stores.

And as a bonus reward for their willingness to help you out, you can offer them the non-perishable food items you’re not moving with you, as mentioned above.

Step FIVE. Donate non-perishable food to charity

If you happen to have many unopened non-perishable food items that you don’t plan on packing and moving with you, then the best thing you can do is to donate all that food to local families in need. And before you learn how you can do that quickly and easily, wouldn’t you like to know WHY you should donate your leftover food in the first place?

According to Food for Hunger – a non-profit organization that collects non-perishable foods and delivers them to various food banks across North America, more than 23 pounds of food per person is thrown out every single month. That basically means that the average American family throws away $1,500 worth of food every year.

Instead of just throwing away perfectly usable non-perishable food, do consider donating those edible items to people in your community who really need them. It’s the right thing to do anyway.

So, how to donate your food when you move? 1) you yourself can take your non-perishables to a local food bank (just make sure those food items are unopened and non-expired), or 2) you can ask your moving company to do it for you without an extra charge as long as your movers are part of the Move for Hunger program. For your information, the Move for Hunger organization works together with more than 1,000 professional moving companies in the United States and Canada.

In reality, donating your food when you move is one of the best ways to minimize food waste and do something good for the community at the same time.

Where to donate things before moving

Step SIX. Pack the food items you’re moving

Once you’ve inventoried the food supply in your home (Step 1), got rid of expired food items (Step 2), used up the leftover food as much as you could (Step 3), shared surplus food items with friends and neighbors (Step 4), and donated unopened non-perishable food to charity (Step 5), you’re now ready to pack the food you’re taking with you to the new home.

How to pack food for moving? Here are the steps for packing food for a move:

Make a genuine effort to take with you as few food items as possible.

  • Frozen food. Do NOT bother packing and moving any frozen or refrigerated food. Many frozen goods are subject to transportation restrictions and you’re not recommended to move them, even when moving short distances. If you must move any frozen food, then pack and move such items in coolers.
  • Canned goods. Use multiple small boxes to pack canned goods instead of using one big moving box. Why? Canned items are quite heavy and may become tricky and even dangerous to lift and carry when crammed into one single box. Again, go through all your canned items and re-evaluate the need to transport them to the new home – keep in mind that the extra transport costs may prove to be much higher than the replacement costs.
  • Dry goods. Use tape to seal all open boxes of dried or powdered foods such as rice, pasta, flour, sugar, cereals, and so on. Then, place those open boxes and packets into plastic re-sealable Ziploc bags, and then transfer them into pre-lined cardboard boxes. If you don’t have any Ziploc bags, then you can use regular plastic grocery bags to eliminate possible leaks and spills during transport.
  • Glass containers. Wrap all glass containers – small bottles, large bottles, jars, etc. – with a few sheets of packing paper first, then tape those paper bundles to keep them from unwrapping and place into pre-lined small cardboard boxes. Make sure no shifting inside the box occurs – if it does, then inserts wads of crumpled newspaper to fill in any empty spaces inside the carton.
  • Labeling. Label properly each box you fill up with food items so that you can identify those cartons quickly after the move.

Step SEVEN. Prepare food for your move-out day

Now that you know what to do with your food when you move, don’t forget about the day of the move itself. Moving day is notorious as an extremely energy-draining period so you’ll need proper food to keep your energy level up, and those of your family members (including pets), friends and even professional movers.

  • Professional movers. If you’ve hired a team of professional packers and movers to help you pack and transport your belongings, then it’s a nice gesture to offer your hired workers some home-made sandwiches, snacks of some sort and some beverages. That’s especially true when the movers are set to work on your move for many hours. If you feel like it, you may even go as far as cooking something delicious for your moving team members. /9 Steps to hiring the best movers/
  • Friends. If you’re asked your good friends to come to help you pack and move your things, then it’s your duty to make sure they don’t go hungry in the process. So, set aside the necessary food products in advance and cook some tasty food for your pals or prepare enough sandwiches to keep them energized. Offering your helpers healthy snacks such as nuts and (dried) fruit is never a bad idea. /How to ask friends to help you move/
  • Open-first box. Moving days are long and exhausting, so it’s always a good idea to pack some healthy snacks in your essentials box. Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches usually work great, but you can pack anything you and your family members like. Nuts, dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, and protein bars are also an excellent choice to keep your energy up throughout the move.

Original by Joshua Green

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