Perishable items in fridge

We have just completed our first THS sit and straight into our second one.
What is the general rule of thumb for the house owners with regards to leaving their own perishables in the fridge without clear instruction about what to do with them. There are usually items which you would choose not to eat yourself, and others which will be out of date by the time the owner returns. Do you throw them away, which could mean that you have eaten them and therefore they would expect them to be replaced?

We feel that the house owners need to be extremely clear, on paper, about the rules of the fridge.

Anyone else had issues on this?


I really, really agree. I wish HOs would bin everything which will go out of date during the sit, and not tell me: ‘Help yourself to anything’ as this sounds cheap. When I see lettuce, cheeses, mushrooms, bread, in the fridge, all having been opened and v v close to the use by date, I’m afraid I now leave them there as I don’t want to them to think I’ve eaten them so have to replace them.


That’s exactly how we felt - it was all a bit awkward without clear instructions.
We feel the owners should leave a written manual of house rules but that is another topic to discuss.

In one of my last sits, I found yogurt expiration date 2018. And many more. The HO told me to eat anything my heart desire.
She showed me several boxes of cheeses. When opened , with no exception all molded. So I took pictures of everything and send it to her asking, would you like me to trash.
It looks like , this was a problem in this house. So I put them in one shelf of the refrigerator and use the other space.


Congrats on getting your first and second sits. And this is a good question, and easily answered. It’s simply a matter of asking the owners … what would you like us to do with the perishables in the fridge? We always ask this on arrival.

The outcome often depends on the length of the sit, but we find most homeowners simply say eat what perishables you want or throw them out. If on the very rare occasion we aren’t meeting an owner at the sit, we make it a question as part of our pre-sit chat or correspondence.

When they say eat anything perishable and it’s out of date or questionable on age, or something we wouldn’t normally eat, we simply bin it. Anything non-perishable or bottled, we simply move to one area so it remains there for the owner to decide on return. Hope that helps.


I usually put the owner’s food separate from my own. Unless something is inordinately gross I don’t throw it out even if it has spoiled or soon will. Eating someone else’s leftovers does not appeal to me and I often think the HO Is just being polite by telling me to help myself to food. But most of my sits have been two weeks or less. On longer sits, I can understand eating food that will not be good when the owners return months in the future.

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I find it interesting that on most of our sits the homeowners leave their fridges like they have just gone out for the day not on vacation for a couple of weeks. I am not sure why they think the sitters will want to eat their take out leftovers, 1 spring roll anyone :grin:
It always seem like we are responsible for cleaning out the fridge in order to make room for our food and to get rid of everything that is out of date and going off.
Homeowners always say use the perishables but it is often things we wouldn’t use or buy.
I would much prefer that the fridge was already cleaned out of all the old stuff as in general North Americans keep so many more items in their fridge compared to Europeans in our experience.
We laugh about it now as it it seems to be so common.


As a HO I would not have out of date items in the fridge. But, yes, I do tell sitters to eat or bin other items in the fridge. I would not expect sitters to replace such items. I am a great advocate of not wasting food so if we have, for example, milk, cheese, yoghurt, veg in the fridge which is still fresh I would rather leave them in case they are useful to a sitter rather than throw perfectly good food away.


We will usually eat any perishables left in the fridge such as eggs and milk and then replace them. I’ll ask the homeowners while on the sit if they would like us to replace veg and fruit that we’ve used rather than thrown out.

I only pay attention to one shelf I am using myself. Unless something begins to smell, I wouldn’t note it at all. I do not look around for anything to eat or drink.

As a HO I do usually say to my guests to help themselves to any perishables left in the fridge. I would not expect them to be replaced. Other than some milk on my return. It would seem a waste to throw away food that someone else could potentially make use of .


HI @Corinne welcome back it’s been a while, we hope that you have been keeping well … Happy New Year

Waste not want not. We usually use up the perishables before we buy our own then message the homeowners to ask if they want anything bought for them coming home. A pint of milk and some spread is usually requested.


I usually find that home owners will tell you to use up any perishables in the fridge etc. If not I will ask. I always find it nice if a supply of fresh salad items, veg in the fridge to make use of, along with a selection of cheeses and mushrooms. There have also sometime been left over home made soup or other recently cooked items. Again have been happy to use. On some occasions the HO has also bought extra food in. As to expired items, if jars of things I tend to leave but would throw out any meat or veg starting to smell or go mouldy etc.

I don’t feel that any perishables need to be replaced, whether they were used or binned. If the owner didn’t plan their use properly and left food, I shouldn’t have to pay for that. I don’t like food waste but I would rather bin half used food than pay to replace it just because I ate it instead. I too get sick of getting rid of leftovers. If it’s from a meal we shared when I arrived, fine. But I don’t want your old half eaten pizza that’s been in there for who knows how long.

If the owners want certain perishables to be available to them on their return (milk, eggs, etc) they should leave a list and cash to cover the cost and ask if the sitter would mind picking them up. But there should be no expectation that they’ll be there just because some were left.