By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse
In a perfect world, our spouses are around to supervise packers, our children are at hourly care, and our friends are coming over with buckets and mops to help us on our final cleaning. But in the real world of PCS season, our spouses are nowhere to be seen, the packing days fall right after the end of the school year, and all our closest friends are moving too.
Over the past seven years, I’ve been lucky enough to have my spouse around for the pack out of six of them. This last time, we had such a short time between when orders (finally!) dropped and when we had to report that there was no option of having him around. Luckily, my oldest two were in school during those days.
Military Moving and Packing Out Alone
My toddler and I had it all under control. Or so I thought.
The day before the packers were coming, I realized I wouldn’t be able to leave the house to go pick up lunch. We have always treated our movers to lunch and drinks and usually allowed them to choose what they wanted for lunch. But this was not going to happen this time. To save you the same trouble I had, I’ll share with you the results of my brainstorming.
This was my first thought. Well, I’ll just cook something! I have my trusty instant pot, and I can make anything in that. I had a friend in Germany who cooked a homemade meal for her packers on the first day. She said they liked to have something warm and hearty when they were working.
Of course, this does require that you have dishes, spices, and all the ingredients handy, which could increase your kitchen “do not pack” area. And then I’d have to do dishes, which is something I vehemently oppose in a regularly stocked and lived-in kitchen.
A few fellow spouses suggested that I order pizza or something similar that would be delivered by a restaurant. Did you know that even Uber has this service? Uber Eats has been recommended by several for just this situation.
But pizza is often overdone, and the movers get tired of it quickly. Heck, I get tired of it when on the road moving. And, takeout can get expensive, be unpredictable, and leave some things to be desired. Deciding where to order from is hard enough when feeding my family, let alone trying to feed a team of packers.
Have a friend grab something
I really like the idea of asking a friend to help here. You know all those times people are saying, “Let me know if I can help,” here’s a real way they can help. Have them pick up sandwiches at Subway that you call in, or box meals from Taco Bell, whatever is decided upon. Plus, then you get a few more minutes with a friend before you move!
Unfortunately, I really wasn’t stationed in our last place long enough to have a big enough group of friends to ask for help. And no one really lived close enough that would have the extra time to help. But I do intend to not only use this option in the future but offer it to others when they’re in my situation.
PURCHASE AHEAD OF TIME
When thinking about having a friend pick something up, it struck me. Why not pick something up in advance? A sandwich tray from the commissary, even a frozen pizza from Wal-Mart could easily be cooked in the oven, saving both time and money.
That’s what I decided to do. I used my local Wal-Mart, which has grocery pickup, to place an order for:
- Water bottles
- A baker’s dozen of donuts
- A carafe of cold brew coffee
- A tray of pinwheel sandwich wraps
- A 24-pack of individual chip bags
- A veggie tray
- A bag of apples
Sure, it seems like a lot of food, but it lasted for two days, fed my packers, my toddler, and myself and cost me maybe $35. I had some paper products already, probably from the last military move. The best part? My movers loved it. They loved that I had provided them lunch and that it was original.
What have you done for food when stuck in the house alone for a pack out?
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Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. She’s also 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.