Living out of boxes is just as much a part of military life as deployments, TDYs, and mismatching olive green socks. Considering the post-movers but preflight house time, the TLF stays, hotels as you look for a home, and the month (or four) of waiting for your items to arrive, you can be bare-bones in your kitchen and home for up to six months, depending on your PCS. To help, a few military spouses shared their best tips for ensuring everyone is fed when everything you need is in boxes 4,000 miles away.
Keep your essentials on you.
Air Force spouse Sarah shares, “I use my Insta-Pot for so many things, so I keep it with me until we ship Unaccompanied Baggage (with fingers crossed it arrives first). I also make a lot of freezer meals ahead of time.” Prepping meals like soups and casseroles and storing them in gallon-size zip locks in the freezer can keep you going for a week or two and are simple to warm up and dish out.
Speaking of essentials, you can push life insurance to the side in the hustle and bustle, but it is a wise addition to your life to give you extra peace of mind amid all the transitions. Contact Navy Mutual to see how they can serve you, from life and pet insurance to even renting a POD, so you don’t have to wait as long for your Insta-Pot to arrive at your new home.
Create staple meals.
Air Force spouse Jill enjoys making crockpot meals, like beef and broccoli and uses frozen microwavable rice. Another spouse creates a weekly menu to ease stress. Mondays are frozen pizza nights, Tuesdays are a crockpot dinner, and Wednesdays are pasta night with noodles, pasta sauce, and rotisserie chicken. Thursdays, use the other half of the rotisserie chicken to create a taco bar (which consists of tossing tortillas, warm chicken, salad, cheese, chips, and salsa on the counter and telling everyone good luck), and Fridays mean leftovers or going out.
Giving yourself a simple weekly outline or having staple meals you can easily do can lessen the panic of making up a meal on the fly because no one needs that added stress after a day of crossing off PCS tasks.
Don’t overthink it.
Instead of making everything from scratch, imagine the meal as larger parts. In lieu of chopping up a salad and vegetables, grab a salad bag with cheese, croutons, and veggies. Combine a soup pouch on the stovetop with water and feed four. Unwrap biscuits to pop in the oven, or grab sandwich bread and some apple sauce, and you’re hitting a few food groups without much effort.
Another tip is to look for multi-meal foods like tortillas. You can use tortillas to make quick quesadillas, tacos, or breakfast burritos! Although beef bourguignon sounds delicious, save the complicated meals for when all your Household Goods arrive at your new home.
Get easy meals at your doorstep.
Meal delivery kits or boxes can be beneficial if you need most of the work done in advance. Depending on your hotel setup or TLF, you may or may not have access to a stove, so picking your meals ahead of time versus letting the food roulette choose for you can be helpful. During a mid-PCS two-month hotel stay, military spouse Rose saved over half her food budget by using Dinnely with her husband instead of going out to eat all the time.
Grab-and-go amidst the flow.
You can also order ready-to-eat meals or pick them up from various places. Whether it’s a local spouse who does meal prep, freezer enchilada meals, or fresh bake-and-eat meals from a grocery store, you can stay healthy and ‘make’ your dinner happen without dirtying more dishes.
Whether you’ve got a few pots and pans from Goodwill, a microwave and a mini fridge, or have an oven but are short on time because you hit the ground running trying to find a house within your 30-day window, we hope these tips help you create meals that are easy for your family without adding extra stress during this moving season.
This article is sponsored by Navy Mutual. Protect your family and your future. Navy Mutual provides affordable life insurance and annuities to those who have answered our nation’s call. If you are active duty, in the reserve or guard, or retired from any branch of the United States military or uniformed services, we’d be honored to serve you. Click here for a quote from Navy Mutual today!
Written by Aj Smit. Aj Smit is the author of the book Red Thread: Weaving an Embodied Life of Joy, speaker, glitter enthusiast, and professional weaver of Joy. She is a military spouse in S. Korea with a pup and houseplants galore. Aj has led various Red Tents, retreats, and workshops internationally over the last ten years to help others discover how to weave creativity and curiosity into their lives. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram at @TheJoyWeaver and TheJoyWeaver.com