PCS-ing can make you look and feel insane. I mentioned this once before when we were preparing for our first overseas move three years ago. I chronicled all the times I wanted to assure total strangers “I swear I’m not crazy” as I bought 15 cans of black beans (which was no where near enough) and 10 bags of soup mix (which was just stupid). This go round, I’m trying to do a better job with consumables and, in turn, spread out the crazy feeling to several months rather than just one week.
For starters, I now have a firm(ish) grasp on what to prioritize, what can actually make it to post via pouch, what I can make myself once we arrive, and the stuff that made me go “girl what the fuck were you thinking?!” when unpacked three months later.
In the interest of helping others avoid my mistakes, here’s a fairly comprehensive list* of how I will be prioritizing my consumables purchasing this go round. Enjoy!
Basically if it’s liquid, bring it. If it’s solid, bring some, but also know you can probably get it off Amazon.
- Your favorite hair care products – go ahead and bring two full years worth right off the bat. I didn’t last time, and it was annoying to try to order small bottles every few weeks, so I eventually resorted to what I could find on the local economy. My hair suffered. It take s a lot of work and very specific products to tame this mane, ok?
- Shaving lotion – especially if you have sensitive skin
- All the nail polish you could ever want to wear in the next two years – this stuff is flammable and pouch-forbidden, guys.
- Mouthwash/toothpaste – this way you are assured you’re getting the real deal, not some knockoff nonsense.
- Contact lens solution – again, don’t risk the fake stuff at post. Especially if you have special eyes, like me.
- Olive oil – bring as much as you think you need, then add two more giant Costco bottles. Trust me. If you don’t use it all it’s always a hot ticket item at consumables sales. (Obviously the caveat here is don’t bring olive oil if you’re going to Italy. But if you are going to Italy, don’t tell me. I’ll be jealous.)
- Maple syrup – don’t be that jerk who orders maple syrup in the pouch because you can find it for under 16 oz. It will break. It will get all over everyone’s mail. Everyone will be mad at you.
- Pasta sauce – see note on olive oil above. Though if you’re a canner like me, you can back off on this one. Just a bit.
- Odds and ends for baking like food coloring, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cooking spray, and whatnot.
- All the spices you could ever want – sometimes these are pouch-able, sometimes they look too much like drugs and get returned. Better safe than sorry.
- Vanilla, almond extract, [insert your favorite] extract – in the extra jumbo size.
- Vegetable stock, chicken stock, etc. – though, if you can boil water and have six hours to spare, you can make your own (see below).
- Canned garbanzo beans and tahini – I consider myself a fairly good cook, and I’ve mastered the art of making a lot from scratch, but I’ve never conquered hummus. I need some help in the form of already softened garbanzo beans and pre-made tahini.
- Salsa – see above regarding hummus but worse. I cannot make salsa to save my life.
- Chips for the salsa, obviously – they weigh like nothing so grab as much as you want.
- All those weird ingredients you’ll use maybe twice a year like chilies in adobo sauce, pumpkin, almond flour, coconut oil, etc. – when you’re craving that one specific dish that tastes like home you’ll thank me.
- Pet medicine, specifically flea and tick and heartworm medicine – you can’t get flea and tick stuff in the pouch, and heartworm medicine gets complicated if your American vet hasn’t seen your pet in a over a year. Just bite the bullet and stock up.
- Canned wet cat food (or dog food) – pop top cans aren’t technically allowed in the pouch (we’ll ignore the fact that I managed to get some during my last tour, so I’m not risking my luck again).
Stuff You Should Bring, But Not Prioritize Since it’s Pouch-able:
- Toilet paper – for obvious reasons
- Paper towels – see above
- Coffee – again, obvious
- Dry food for the fur babies – definitely bring some so you aren’t the person ordering 50 lbs. of dog food every week (because that person is ridiculous…), but this is definitely something you can pouch.
- Cat litter – see dry food
Make it Yourself:
- Almond milk – this recipe saved my sanity, and takes like five minutes.
- Jam – you don’t even need to water-bath seal this stuff. It’s fruit and sugar and lemon juice. You’ve got this.
- Stock – making your own stock is super easy! I promise!
- Dried soup mixes – for some reason I thought these would be a good idea. Clearly I panicked. We don’t eat these in America, why would I want them overseas?
- Cream of crab soup – sensing a theme here? It’s never as good at the Maryland homemade stuff.
I think this is a decent start. I’ll keep you posted on any new developments as this process moves along. Wish me luck!
*This is by no means a complete list of what we will be purchasing. I’d be happy to post our full consumables list if anyone is interested! Let me know in the comments.