It's that time of year again: the school year is winding down, and that means it's time to pack and clean. As any foodie knows, a big part of that is figuring out what to do with all of your snacks and extra food. Aside from eating everything in sight in the next two weeks, there are many ways to deal with food, but here are a few of the best suggestions.  

Opened, but Still Edible:

open bag, Bag, vegetable, Cut cauliflower, florets, cauliflower
Jocelyn Hsu

Make the best use of any extra food you still have left. The first goal would be just to eat it before it spoils. However, if you have too much of any food item, you can offer it up for anyone. (Hint: people running low on meal plan money will love you forever). 

Other options for eating good food before it goes bad include having a potluck with your friends, your hall, or a club. It is a great way to end the year together and chances are, you are not the only person looking to share some food before summer. For even more fun, you all can cook together and come up with creative ways to use your various ingredients. (Hint: casseroles are usually your best bet. The measurements and ingredients lists can both be flexible).

Unopened, Non-perishable:

cereal, sweet
Anna Neufeld

If you find yourself with lots of unopened boxed or canned goods, you have a couple of options. First, check the expiration date. If you are well past the date, consider just disposing of the product. Most people agree that food is good for a bit past the expiration or sell-by date, but don't make yourself sick by waiting too long. If the product will last until the fall, consider just packing it and saving it to eat when you get back to campus.

Pretty much anything that has survived storage in a dorm room, will last through the summer. However, if you don't want to keep the food for any reason, consider donating it. Many food pantries will accept donations of any quantity. Contact your local food donation center for their exact guidelines. Get some friends together, and take all of your donations at once. The recipients will thank you deeply, and so will Mother Earth for not wasting food. Check out this donation guide for more help. 

Unopened, but Perishable:

dairy, butter, dairy product, milk, cheese
Caroline Ingalls

If you are within the expiration date, see: Opened, but Perishable. You will probably find yourself with this extra food opened but unfinished pretty soon. If you are not going to eat it, try to find it a new home ASAP. This could include donating, but check with your recipient as each food bank will have different rules about what they do and do not accept. 

If you have expired food hiding under your bed or in the back of the fridge: please, please, please just dispose of it. If your campus has composting, compost it. If not, find the least obnoxious way to get rid of it (read: do not throw open containers into the communal trash where they will stink until the end of time).

In conclusion, while the categories of food at the end of the year are limited, the possibilities of what you can do with your snacks are infinite. Potlucks and donations are always good choices, but a movie night with friends who all bring fun snacks can be just as rewarding before you head home for the summer.