How to Use Up Perishable Food in the Fridge before Leaving Town

Refrigerator filled with food
Alice Henneman, MS, RDN, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

You'll be gone several several days for the holidays, vacation, on business, to see family, etc. ... what can you do with the foods that stay behind in the refrigerator? Especially the foods that will no longer be safe or will decrease in quality by your return?

Here are some suggestions ...

  • Hard-cook any remaining eggs and use them on salads and in sandwiches (such as in this picture) before you leave. Hard-cooked eggs — in their shells — will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week; store in a clean container, not the original egg carton. For directions on hard-cooking eggs, check this article by the American Egg Board.
  • Use cartons of yogurt nearing the end of their recommended use period for foods such as smoothies. You're limited only by your imagination and your leftovers! For a quick yogurt smoothie recipe, check Peach Raspberry Smoothie

COOK'S TIP #1: You also can freeze small pieces of fresh or canned fruit until solid. This is another way to use up fresh or opened, canned fruit in your fridge. Freeze for a few hours or overnight on a cookie sheet or in shallow metal pans — place fruit in a single layer. Chop larger fruits like bananas, apricots, etc. into smaller chunks — about 1/2 to 1 inch. Transfer frozen fruit to freezer bags for later use or enjoy in a smoothie right away! More tray freezing ideas.

COOK'S TIP #2: This salad dressing recipe also works with a similar amount of milk, if you're trying to use up your milk. Yogurt gives a tangier taste than milk. Or, use a combination of milk and yogurt.