By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

I don’t pretend to be a great cook. In fact, if you ask me what I’m making for dinner, I’ll respond with my usual “I don’t cook dinner.” I really don’t. I mean, food is prepared in my house for my family to eat 6 out of the 7 nights in a week, but I didn’t cook it that evening.

I’m a freezer cooker. I shop for 10-20 dinners at one time, prepare everything, and freeze it. Then the day we’re going to eat it (or the night before) I thaw it, and put it in the crockpot, the Instant Pot, or on a very rare occasion in the oven. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and I freeze more meals than we need for a month.

Which meant when we got orders 6 weeks before our military move, I stopped buying dinner food and ate out of my freezer until we packed up.

It also meant that until I could get a good rotation going in my new freezer, I’d have to actually cook some meals.

So I came up with a (very) short list of the kitchen utensils I just had to have in order to cook in our new place once we made the military move. I kept in mind that we may not have our stuff right away, and that I just might want to cook in temporary lodging if we are there awhile.

I was right, by night number 11 in hotel number 5, I was done. We needed fruits and vegetables, and a home cooked meal. I was so glad I brought that little kitchen pack with me! Here are some kitchen essentials; what I packed in the minivan to help us make it through.

Kitchen Essentials for your military Move

  • Instant Pot

    I’ve blogged and raved about this kitchen staple, after I protested getting one for at least a year. But tonight, I made chicken for taco salad in 15 minutes in one pot on the counter in my hotel room.

  • Paring Knife

    I love the little knife. It’s sharp, mine has a sheath to keep it from cutting anyone, and it is small.

  • Collapsable measuring cups

    Again, space is key here. I packed my ¼ cup, 1/3 cup, and 1 cup measuring cups. I’m sure the set came with a ½ cup as well, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Now I can measure out wet or dry ingredients for cooking.

  • Himalyan Pink Sea Salt

    For purely selfish reasons, I packed this gem. My bestie snagged this for me at Costco and I will never go back to regular sea salt. It feels like I’m cooking in my own kitchen when I can use it. Plus it reminds me of her.

  • Measuring Spoons

    I love my Pampered Chef measuring spoons, so I packed both the teaspoon and tablespoon version. Again, now I can measure out wet or dry ingredients. We could even make a cake if we wanted.

  • Kitchen Shears

    I wonder why we refer to these at kitchen shears. Really, they are multipurpose scissors. Perfect for trimming meat, chopping up spinach for a salad, and cutting the tags off new flip flops for the beach.

  • Can Opener

    I know that most temporary lodging comes with basic kitchen utensils, including a can opener, but I didn’t want to risk it. Sometimes a home cooked meal still involves opening cans.

  • Bee’s Wrap

    These are my new guilty pleasure. I received them as part of a monthly subscription box from Mighty Nest, and I am in love. As an alternative to saran wrap, these are made of beeswax, organic cotton muslin, jojoboa oil, and tree resin, and are washable, giving us many uses.

With these eight kitchen essentials, I made chicken taco salad, sausage and potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and pulled pork barbecue while in temporary lodging. The best part? Every single thing fit inside the Instant Pot. Which meant it took up minimal room and was loaded, and unloaded, from the car in one trip.

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Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic.