Moving food can be problematic. You’ll need to know which types of food the moving company will transport, if any. Movers definitely won’t transport perishable foods – anything frozen, refrigerated, or fresh is taboo. Some moving companies will move canned food. Your best bet is to ask before you start packing your pantry. Additionally, keep in mind that food is dense and will cost you money to move. It may be more economical to give away or donate food than to try and take it with you.

For DIY moves, you can essentially take any kind of food with you that you want. If you’re moving a short distance, sure, it makes sense to pack up all your food and put perishables in an ice chest. But think twice about packing perishables for longer moves – they tend to spoil quickly, form mold, and attract insects.

If you decide not to take certain foods with you, see if there’s a friend or neighbor who would like these items or donate non-perishable items to your local food bank. Alternatively, check out Move for Hunger, a non-profit that works with the relocation industry to reduce food waste and tackle hunger.

Here are our top tips for packing your food when moving.

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Moving Supplies You’ll Need to Pack Your Food

  • Small- and medium-size moving boxes or plastic bins
  • Packing paper
  • Packing tape
  • Gallon size zip-top baggies
  • Permanent black marker
  • Ice chest and ‘blue ice’ gel packs or bottles of frozen water

Steps for Packing Food for a Move

1. Check with your mover

Food restrictions vary between local and long-distance moves. Specifically, ask about the types of foods your moving company will transport based on the distance of your move. Will they allow canned goods? Cello-wrapped pastas? Carton boxes of cereals? Before you go to the trouble of packing these items, be sure to find out if movers will permit them on the truck.

2. Purge your cupboards and pantry

Once you know which foods you can’t take with you, donate them to your local food bank. Be sure to check expiration dates and throw away foods that are no longer nutritious or on the verge of spoiling. Dump the food in the trash or compost and recycle cardboard, glass, and plastic containers.

3. Consider your alcohol

The moving company absolutely will not take alcohol. Now’s the time to drink up! Your friends will likely appreciate receiving what you can’t consume before the move. If you have a valuable wine collection that you want to relocate, you’ll need to hire a specialty moving company that maintains necessary licensing and uses climate-controlled transport.

4. Remember that canned goods and bottles are heavy

Evaluate the cost of transporting bulky items against the cost of replacement. Cans and bottled foods are heavy and can cause your transport costs to be higher than the cost of replacing the food at your destination.

5. Prepare your moving box

Overlap several layers of packing tape on the bottom seam of the box. Cushion the interior of the box with crumpled packing paper.

6. Prepare open containers

Open food bags, such as flour, sugar, and rice bags, can create a real mess if you don’t seal them properly. Fold over the bag opening and seal it with packing tape. Place the bag in a zip-top baggie for extra protection.

7. Choose a box or bin

You may want to consider using a plastic storage bin, rather than a cardboard box, especially if your items are going into storage for a while. A plastic bin better protects your food from vermin and insects that could otherwise chew through cardboard.

8. Layer the heavier items on the bottom

Items like jars of peanut butter or spaghetti sauce go on the bottom of the box. Crackers and boxes of cereal go on top. Fill the open spaces with crushed packing paper so nothing will move or shift. If packing a glass bottle, wrap it with several layers of packing paper before placing it in the box.

9. Seal and label the box

Seal the box closed with packing tape and label all four sides and the top ‘Kitchen: Food.’



Feature Image Credit: Erin Cadigan –

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