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Moving with food?

My husband and I are moving from Chicago to Tucson at the end of the month, and I'm curious to know--what do you all do with your food after you move? On one hand, packing half-used balsamic vinegar seems tedious and potentially messy; on the other hand, many foods will keep in a truck for a week... Do you pack your cupboards, or toss everything and start again? And if you have moved with the contents of your cupboard: how did your foodstuffs hold up?


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  1. Have a safe trip!

    In the past when I have had to move, I have packed-up all the non-perishables (and the zillions of cleaning products under the sink) and taken them with me. Because, as tedious and annoying as it is to pack-up all that stuff, when you get to a new place it is expensive and time consuming to replace it (and you never know at what point you are going to want that margarita salt you were tempted to toss in the Chicago garbage)

    1. I have moved with food before...particularly when I wasn't very well off financially and didn't want to throw it all out to start over again. It was a little messy in regards to some dry goods and pancake syrup.

      My opinion is that you are better off throwing out all the things that are easy to re-stock: mustard, ketchup, cans of veggies. Keep the balsamic vinegar and the few other things that you really want or are worried that you might have more of a difficulty finding in your new town. Also keep in mind that you will most likely be amazed at how much you have in your pantry....and hauling boxes of heavy food around isn't all that fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nieves

        If it is unopened packages and you don't want to haul it take it to a local food bank or shelter, don't just pitch it. Someone hungry can use it. Most moving companies willl not take your cleaning supplies, those will have to go with you

      2. When a friend of mine recently moved, she gave all her friends, including me, a box load of stuff to choose from. Most of it was condiments and such....stuff that they had just opened and used, but felt bad about throwing away. Overall, I took the ketchup, mustard, a bottle of red wine vinegar and a container of Bosco chocolate syrup (something I usually don't purchase myself, but rekindled some fond memories of childhood).

        1. This is the best time to weed out those items that are "almost used up" to help start with a less cluttered pantry.

          Agree with nieves - give away/throw away perishables; keep the things like vinegar, spices, etc. You can ensure caps are tightly screwed on, and then zip them up in ziplock baggies to ensure no spills before packing them up in their respective boxes. It's nice to have those items available for your first homemade meal in the new space vs. having to remember to buy them when you get there. The cost to replace all of my herbs and spices alone would put me in hock. :-)

          1. As Lindawhit noted, I use moving as an occasion to get rid of most everything and start over. If the balsamic is an aged balsamic or something like that, I'd hang onto it. Ditto with expensive spices or real specialty items that can't be replaced easily.

            Everything in the fridge would go away, anything open in the pantry (grains, etc) would go away. Non-perishables that don't fall into the first paragraph items, I'd give to a local food bank or shelter.

            1. I moved from Pennsylvania to Texas about a year ago. Packed up all the non-perishable pantry items and chucked all the refrigerator stuff, along with the junk I found at the back of the pantry that I never used.

              Everything came through great, though I wouldn't recommend packing a bag of chocolate chips. That was a mistake. I think my brain had escaped my head at that point.

              1. Spices and dry goods will travel well. I usually pack things in zip-top bags to make sure I don't accidentally drop the box and end up with a flour bomb.

                Toss or give away any thing liquid or viscous, because Tuscon is really hot and liquids expand and the entire box will be saturated with vinegar or whathaveyou - whether it's been opened or not. Anything you think is potentially messy isn't worth saving. Trust me on this one. Last summer, I left a bag of groceries sitting on the floor of my car here in Texas. I figured it was just some vinegar and a few other pantry things so I didn't have to worry about it. The seal pretty much melted and the vinegar sort of boiled over. It took alot of cleaning and some time for the smell of vinegar to fade from that floor mat.

                If it's truly an expensive bottle of vinegar or whathaveyou, package it very very well to avoid leakage. Don't trust the movers to do it correctly. Personally, the time it takes to package everything for a cross-country move is my biggest incentive to toss stuff!

                1. We've moved cross-country a few times and took food with us each time. We used our biggest cooler and packed it with non-perishable items like vinegar, good oils, spices, etc. We even packed peanut butter and pasta. Putting it in the cooler prevented cardboard cleanup. We would then tape it all the way around and load it on the moving truck or in our car, depending on the situation. It might seem cheap, but it actually is really nice to have those things when the kitchen is in disarray from unpacking and you are hungry.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mojoeater

                    Ahh...the far too practical practice of having food as soon as you get to the new place. But then how do you figure out the top five go to delivery options within the first 4 days of living in a new place? :)

                    1. re: ccbweb

                      If you arrive at 4am and have no phonebook or internet yet, you're SOL if you didn't pack something!

                  2. being one to hate throwing out perfectly usable stuff (especially when i had little money) i always taped shut opened boxes, rolled and taped shut open bags and used zipper bags as needed. i would even consider moving the parishables in a cooler (they wouldn't go in the truck, of course). as for finding the great take out places-who has energy to cook the first couple of days anyway? :)