what to pack in military PCS kitchen

PCS season is upon us. Some may be sticking around in their current space for the time being, but if you are finding yourself prepping for an upcoming move, you may be overwhelmed and not sure where to get started. This can cause stress, but we have some tips to help reduce stress at least when it comes to feeding your family healthy. What your family eats throughout the entire process does not have to be determined by the fast-food options close by. 

military PCS eat healthy

Unfortunately, it is hard to always take the best care of your mind and body during a PCS. But in order for you to be your best self during a stressful time, you need to be sure to set yourself up for success to fuel your body right! Traveling with a box of essentials helps you set up a new home at the next location. If you are moving OCONUS, a loan locker is available to you so this is not as much of a concern. But even with that, having your favorite essentials makes things more comfortable. Kim Bacso (InDependent co-founder) shares ways to prep your very own “PCS-kitchen” in order to continue to make healthy food options from pack out to unpack. 

Kim says, “Begin observing what you use daily. Decide which of those things you want to keep with you, even during a PCS. Make a list of your must-have items. These things will be the PCS kitchen that you keep with you, whether you’re traveling door-to-door for a stateside PCS or by air for an overseas move. Maintaining the capability to cook in an empty house or a hotel room kitchenette will help you meet your wellness goals and stay on budget. You can borrow some things from a lending closet, but after moving across the ocean several times, I realized I missed some things. My portable PCS kitchen includes:

  • Mini-blender

  • Electric water kettle with an assortment of tea

  • Chef’s knife roll containing: chef’s knife, serrated bread knife, paring knife, can opener, vegetable peeler, kitchen shears, spatula, and wooden spoon

  • Lightweight cutting board

  • Cookie sheet

  • Strainer

  • Large stainless steel bowl

  • Skillet

  • Pot

  • Measuring spoons and cups

  • Spice kit (you can buy travel spice kits, but I made my own using a plastic container and snack-size resealable bags.)”

what to pack military PCS kitchen

Not only do you want to create a PCS kitchen, but it is also important to prep your kitchen and pantry space prior to the big day. After all, not everything will be able to go with you. 

Kim says, “As soon as we receive word that we’re moving, I start eating down the pantry and freezer. As the pack-up date nears, I decide on an individual to give a box of food to. Maxing out household goods weight isn’t an issue for us so I ship canned food, but I give away liquids and anything that would make a big, suspicious mess like flour.

The night before the move:

  • Bring out all of the original small appliance boxes and place them by the matching appliances.

  • If I have kitchen things stored in the basement or used as storage/decorative items throughout the house, I bring them all to the kitchen so they can be packed nicely together.

  • Deliver the box of food that I can’t move. I never assume that the packers will leave disallowed things like liquids.

  • Take out the trash.

  • Stash things that stay with the house or that I still need in a safe place: cleaning supplies, ice cube trays, large appliance manuals, drain covers, spare keys, etc.

On the day of the move, my headquarters is in the kitchen to make sure everything gets packed nicely. On arrival, I unpack the kitchen first. I feel most at home when I have my full kitchen up and running.”

Here at InDependent, we have compiled a few more items to consider to “round out” your PCS kitchen box. You will want to make sure all of these items are stashed away in your “open first” box:

what to pack military PCS kitchen

  • Small dish soap (in a plastic bag to contain any possible leaks)

  • Dishwasher detergent (in a plastic bag)

  • New sponge or dishcloth

  • Kitchen towel for drying

  • Coffee essentials (this may include: coffee maker, sealed coffee, and coffee filters) 

  • Utensils for every family member

  • Plate for each family member

  • Cup for every family member

  • Kitchen shears

  • Scissors or box cutter (for opening boxes)

  • Flashlight with batteries

  • Candle and matches

Yes, a PCS can be stressful but packing a “PCS Kitchen” in the car, or even a suitcase, can make it easier to feed your family well until you’ve unpacked at your new duty station.