Food left for Sitters

We started as Home Owners, now use the system as Sitters. We had several Sitters mind our home, and now we have done dozens of sits all over North America, UK, EU.

Most Home Owners are very welcoming, considerate, thoughtful people who recognize that Sitters are much like themselves: love to travel & meet people.
We have been fortunate to have almost nothing but lovely experiences and have made a number of long friendships via sitting.

In that vein, we treated sitters & have often been treated as sitters to a beautiful “welcome” dinner, a lovely way to welcome someone to your home.
Most HO will also leave enough fresh food for the first meal or two a sitter will need as well as coffee and condiments.

Since C-19 has faded & we’re doing sits again, we’ve noticed something new: HOs leaving food that should have been tossed for sitters with the comment, “Help yourselves!”

Understood: before a trip we’re all in a rush, a dozen things to take care of so making sure everything is 100% isn’t always possible or practical.

But some things are basics:
(A) Fridge foods that need to be tossed.
Your fridge doesn’t have to be Operating Room Antiseptic, but it shouldn’t have the following (and we’ve seen ALL of these)
Jars of condiments, food containers growing mold
Veg & fruit already showing rot
Meats & dairy which to the naked eye (and nose) are past edible
Foods with a Best By Date significantly (in one case 10 years) past. Most commonly? Condiments you don’t use often

(B) Partially Eaten Food
Half-eaten food in a Tupperware container. In one case a gentleman was eating straight out of a Tupperware bowl in the kitchen, put it in the fridge and said, “Feel free to finish that!”
Almost-empty or ready-to-be-tossed containers in a crowded pantry
If your sitter will be staying for more than 2-3 days, please keep in mind they may have different food preferences than you and need somewhere to put their groceries: make room in the pantry or cupboards. When you leave an almost empty container in a crowded space, most Sitters won’t toss it.

(C) We all have cans & boxes of food in our pantry or cupboards…
In less than 20 minutes you can probably check everything to make sure it is still good. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve moved a few things around to make room and found tuna fish or baking products that should have been tossed one, two, three years ago. Once I ran out of my own flour, went to use some of the HO’s? Opening it, smelled rancid: the stamp showed it was 7 years past its best-by date.

(D) Almost all spices have a short shelf life.
I love to cook: I’m probably more aware of certain things. So here’s a tip: unless you’re running a busy restaurant? Do NOT buy large containers of spices. They fade, become either very weak or go bad & ruin a dish. Spend 10 minutes pulling out your spices and look for the ones that should be tossed, maybe make a list of what you have to replace.
Funny thing: it is quite quite common to be in a home where there are multiples of the same spice. One home easily had 50 jars of spices but only a dozen types: they had clearly bought the same spice over & over. All open. Most no longer pungent.

As I wrote above, the vast majority of home owners (and sitters) are considerate people who do their best to make this a win-win-win situation. Its been a pleasure doing sits and we look forward to doing many more.

Spend 20-30 minutes on one day, 15-20 minutes on another to clear out stuff you really shouldn’t eat, that’s taking up room in your kitchen.
Not just as a courtesy to sitters: also as a good idea just for your own health. And of course having safe condiments, room to put a few things, will be much appreciated by the person taking care of your beloved pets and your beloved home.


One of the sits I did in the past was terrible. They mentioned I can use the seasonings and a few other things. Most of the stuff was expired and were really dried up. Seemed old


Sounds like we were at the same place! The cupboard had 1/3 of a bottle of rancid cooking oil, a little cloudy vinegar and several seasoning jars that were either empty or dried up. The kicker? A box of salt that had turned to rock. The fridge was totally empty. I don’t mean “kinda” I mean not a single thing in the fridge or the freezer. Bizarre.


I have experienced some very empty fridges of late ie not even milk, butter, (or vegan alternatives) tomato sauce etc that you’d expect anyone would have in their house. My suspicion is that the owners go camping and just take everything with them which is fine but it’s still always eye roll and headshake inducing when there is just nothing to work with. Especially when the sit is only a week or so and I’m hardly going to do a big shop to get through.

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There is always dead celery… :upside_down_face:


@Itchyfeet the only place for celery - dead :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes::joy:


I agree with most of the comments above, (certainly that half-eaten container- yuck!) but with certain provisos concerning kitchen stocks. As a non-chef who doesn’t really like cooking, it is very possible you will find some spices in my cupboard that are past their best by date, and there are certainly some duplicates.
However, I want to say that as concerns out-of-date or even lack of cooking ingredients this is simply how some people live. They may not even notice or realise (or care) that their cupboard is not as well-equipped as someone else might prefer. They may almost certainly feel embarrassed to think their pet sitters were judging them on it.
I understand this feeling of embarrassment. Every time my sister visits (from abroad) she takes great pleasure in going through my cupboards and pulling out all of the out of date spices and tins. It annoys the be-jeesus out of me, but I smile grimly and say nothing.
I think the solution for those that MUST have certain spices and condiments is to take them along with you, or at least those you can’t spend any length of time without.


KateY - As you describe it, I don’t think your kitchen would be an “issue” for anyone.
Almost everyone has stuff they need to toss. Everyone loses track of spices.
No one expects a ‘chef’s kitchen.’
Most sitters do buy what they need during a sit. Certainly I do. And some sitters don’t like to cook, won’t care what is or isn’t in a kitchen.

This isn’t about a demand list or judging.
This is about basic cleanliness and courtesy.

In years doing sits, I’ve only once brought up anything with a HO.
I asked permission via EM to throw out a jar with over an inch of mold growing inside.
That’s not just “yuck” that’s actually dangerous. I’ve sat in a huge range of homes and enjoyed all the experiences.

This forum is a place where advice and requests for advice can be made. I’m just offering what I think can be useful advice, and I am sorry you found it offensive.

But consider this: a HO asks a Sitter to live in their home for a few days, a week, perhaps longer, and expect that Sitter to treat their home with respect, take their dog for walks, give their cat meds, water plants, bring in the mail, etc.
And most HO understand those sitters also need to be shown respect.
Getting a home ready for your sitter who will spend hours caring for your animal and your home by taking 30 minutes to prep your kitchen, clean the fridge so the Sitter has a space for their things, taking 30 minutes to prep the bathroom the sitter will use, the bedroom they’ll sleep in is common courtesy.
It’s just about creating a win-win.


Most hosts are considerate and many are generous.
Not all. C’est la vie. But I agree: if you’re doing a sit for 3 days or a week, you don’t want to have buy basics you’ll barely use. Happily we’ve encountered that rarely!


Funny story about me and a kitchen, but not food - I was sitting in a house with an almost new reno kitchen and the cooktop was induction so needed steel pans. I found lots of pans but none of them had handles. It took me 2 days to realize that there were 2 detachable handles to use with all the pans. For the first few days everything went into the microwave or oven. And there were about a dozen laying hens so I got really stocked up on eggs those first days.


Tomi -
Ha! One of the “adventures” of house sitting is adapting to unknown appliances!
At least you got it figured out - and BTW I love sits with chickens!


As a PP I always go through my fridge and cupboards to make sure everything is clean, in date and if it’s fresh produce opened or part used it’s thrown out.

However, I’m a little anxious about leaving food, outside bare essentials. So many people have food allergies or intolerances, also could be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian etc.

I always say to help themselves to anything in the store/larder areas and herbs/spices etc.

I think next time (end of June) I’ll ask my sitters outright if I can put some essentials in the fridge for them.

Quite often our sitters come the day before so we can have a bite to eat all together either at home or out. That helps to understand their food choices too. :+1:t2:


Please don’t worry, I certainly was not offended! :slight_smile: All good!

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OOps…don’t know why the thread shouted your name like that (capitals) !!


Honest i would feel funny about using much of the pp items other than maybe salt pepper or if they mentioned something specfic. I do more shorter sits so I try to keep meal prep to a minimum or just heat and eat type items

There are so many variables and preferences among sitters that it might be helpful for hosts to ask whether a sitter would like some basics on hand or whether they’d prefer say a grocery gift card instead. That’s only if hosts want to be generous. That could help avoid unnecessary food waste / buying the wrong stuff. And no host should feel obligated to provide food. That’s not the expectation under THS terms.

I’ve had some generous hosts who’ve asked about supplying goodies or basics, with specificity in some cases, and others who left a lot of their own food that was still fresh, urging me to help myself. Also some hosts who left nothing. Plus one disgustingly packed and grimy fridge, shudder.

I usually decline offers of groceries and end up tossing perishables that hosts have left, because I have zero interest in cooking. I’d rather be left with a clean and relatively empty fridge, which I can stock at my own expense and preferences.

Among pleasures while sitting: I enjoy eating out or ordering in and trying local cuisines and restaurants, and spending time checking out unfamiliar groceries and brands while food shopping abroad. I prefer to eat what I happen to feel like, not have foods I must eat or waste, left by well-meaning hosts.

It wouldn’t bother me at all if a host left no food, drink, spices, etc. I take sits only in urban areas and order groceries and/or meal deliveries, often as soon as my hosts leave. Sometimes before, if we overlap.

On my current UK sit, I’m loving that I can order from Waitrose and have full English breakfasts delivered, for instance.


I so agree with the eating out thought…Where I live we have no Indian restaurants and no take away fish and chips. On UK sits I always fit in at least 2 curry nights and a chippie Friday! Bliss :slight_smile:


I was left a whole new loaf of sliced white bread, butter, and jam. And eggs, milk.

So I am now on an English diet of toasted white bread. But there is a very nice Vietnamese place nearby, so I should get some vitamines that way and I guess I will survive :slight_smile:


Ouch. I’ve stocked up with three grocery deliveries already and will be getting more.

I especially love Waitrose. Its prepared meals are often great. Like so far I’ve enjoyed pork belly with crispy skins, smoked ribs and chicken in apricot sauce. They’ve been restaurant quality dishes.

I’ve also found tasty sweets, biscuits and desserts, thanks to Waitrose. Like my favorite cookie of all time — gingersnaps covered in dark chocolate. I’ve already ordered a bunch to take to the U.S., along with dark chocolate Tunnock’s wafers that I can’t get back home.


I am the same way I prefer they just leave me an empty space however if they have items that need to be used up like produce and said to me please help myself I obviously would appreciate and try to use it as I hate food waste. But I want to try places I normally won’t get at home I do try to shop when I get there a few essentials drink, snack just so I have something and don’t have to go out if weather becomes bad