Did you know that moving counts as one of the top stressors in life?
Eating healthy while missing your normal kitchen supplies (and a house) can be a BIG challenge, but it’s still possible. Moving is a big change, but having a plan for food can give you a little more structure.
Planning ahead regarding your nutrition can help reduce a little bit of stress while you settle into your new house, town/city, state, etc.
Being a military spouse, I move states somewhat often. Having something known, like my food, has been something that keeps me energized, focused, and feeling “at home”.
I love being spontaneous and having a lot of flexibility, but I do love having some known, consistent things – especially food. It’s extra stuff to pack, but your body will thank you! That’s the reason why we’re talking about this.
The reason why we’re focusing on nutrition in this article is to be able to show up better, to have more energy, and to feel good overall through a tough life transition.
When you consistently eat foods that don’t fuel your body well, it catches up to you. You need to most support you can get during this kind of life transition.
Taking control of your nutrition begins before the move comes.
#1 Create a Plan for the Food You Already Have
Food waste is a very real and unfortunate thing. In the weeks leading up to a move, try to sit down and make a list of all the foods you have on hand and start using them.
Frozen meats, canned goods, dried beans, rice, pastas, and baking supplies tend to be foods that are pretty shelf stable and stick around in pantries sometimes longer than we intend them to.
Once you have the foods listed, begin to think about how you want to utilize and incorporate them into your meals and snacks leading up to the big move.
If you do have leftovers, don’t guilt yourself. I’ve seen so many families post on their post/base Facebook groups offering their leftover food to anyone in the neighborhood. I think that can be a great idea and can also help to reduce food waste if you aren’t able to use all the food up in time. Just be cautious of food safety when taking any food – I recommend taking shelf stable, unopened products from trusted individuals.
#2 Remember, Perfection is Never Necessary
Things will inevitably come up and disrupt even the most organized plan. That is ok. For the majority of people, aiming towards perfection when it comes to food choices is unrealistic and does more harm than good.
Think about “if, then” statements to help plan for backup strategies.
–> “If something comes up and I don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal, I’ll aim to still balance my meal with protein, fat, and carbs – even if they aren’t from my intended sources.”
–> “If I know that I won’t be able to prepare food, I’ll go to the local grocery store and pick up some rotisserie chicken/healthier frozen meals/a tuna packet and fruit, etc.”
–> “If I eat something completely off from what I like to eat, I won’t shame or guilt myself because I know there are more/different stressors going on in my life right now, and I might not have built up the appropriate skills to roll with those changes or I might just be too tired to shift energy towards those concerns. I won’t let that meal impact my self-respect or self-support and will get the next meal on target with something that will give me lots of good feeling energy.”
Results come from consistent change, not perfection. Mistakes don’t erase progress. In fact, you can see “mistakes” as part of progress to learn and grow from!
#3 Remember There are Different Seasons of Health
There are different seasons for everything in our lives – food and health are no different. Sure, we tend to maintain a relatively consistent overarching intake year to year, but differences tend to come up based on seasons and family schedules. Some times in our life, we can focus more time and effort into healthy habits than at other times.
Think of a “health bank account”. In a normal, healthy bank account, you aren’t only depositing money, but you’re also withdrawing money to live. The goal of having a healthy bank account is to have more deposits than withdrawals most of the time. But when on vacation, it’s realistic to increase those withdrawals and also decrease deposits.
The problem comes when that gets drawn out long term, leading to over drafting on money that isn’t there. In a “health back account”, you can use the same approach of putting in more “health” (quality and good quantity sleep, healthy food intake, physical activity, etc.) And once moving season comes along, instead of worrying about “depositing” as much “health” as you can, just do what you can, know you can pull on some of those health deposits, and remember that perfection is never necessary.
It’s unfair to put perfectionistic expectations on you when going through a big life change, like moving and leaving friends. On the flip side, it’s also not the best time to go completely off the wall. It’s important to give your body the energy and the nutrients it needs to carry you through the move with energy and vitality.
#4 Utilize you Hand for Basic Portion Sizes to Make Sure You’re Eating Enough.
There’s no magic number of meals or snacks to eat. Listening to your hunger and fullness cues is key, however this may be a challenge depending on how long hunger and fullness cues have been suppressed or if they are being confused with other inputs (poor sleep, stress, food manufactured to promote overeating, etc).
A good start would be 3 meals a day and 1-2 snacks between meals of real foods added if you’re active (like running around doing all the things that need to get done during a move).
1 palm protein + 1-2 thumbs fat + fist-sized amount of veggies + 1/2-1 cupped handful carbs
1/2 cupped handful carbs (full handful if veggies) + 1/2 palm protein or 1 thumb fat
If you’re still hungry after a meal, add one more handful of veggies, then 1/2 palm more of protein. Remember, this is a general guide and not personalized for yourneeds.
#5 Make a List of Basic and Necessary Kitchen Supplies
Around the time you make your meal plan to minimize food waste, start keeping track of kitchen supplies you use on a regular basis. Keep track of those items that you’re always using and that you would need to severely change your eating pattern if you didn’t have it/them. Use the following for some help in jogging your memory.
Here’s a list of what I like to being with us:
In a hurry? Download and save the checklist for when you need!
- Large skillet pan and lid, and a small one: pan fry chicken, ground beef/turkey, make eggs. If you have to pick one, take the large pan to make more at one time and save it for later.
- Sauce pan & lid: to make rice, quinoa, and heat up soup
- 1-2 pots: Useful for soups and heating up water for tea
- Slow-cooker or pressure cooker: moving is busy enough. Throw in your favorite one-pot recipes for an easy, quick meal.
- Med/Large bowl: for mixing together any food needed, and for holding salad mixes
- Meal containers: to hold prepared food in the refrigerator
- Kitchen scissors: for cutting veggies and cutting meat if needed
- Large silicone spoon, large tongs, spatula: pretty much all I need to prepare basic food
- Mini grater: for garlic, ginger, and lemon zest (I love adding extra fresh flavor) – totally optional, but they are usually tiny and doesn’t take much space.
- Thermometer: Gotta make sure that chicken is 100% done – no time for salmonella!
- Can opener: for opening canned green beans and tuna (even though they usually have pull-up tops)
- Microwave: ‘cause life’s too short to always wait for the oven
- Food Scale: to fit my meal to my goals and needs. Definitely not needed.
- Coffee Maker (percolator or a small/medium french press): options!
- Coffee bean grinder: one key to better tasting coffee. Not 100% needed of course. 🙂
- 2 coffee cups: for coffee & tea
- Travel coffee mug, cold coffee cup, shaker bottle: I use these often
- I also brought a small cutting board to use when I’m cutting things with my kitchen scissors (didn’t bring any real knives)
- Baking sheet: for roasting veggies, chicken, ect.
- Drying cloths: helpful for doing dishes
- Aluminum foil: extremely useful for meal prep
- We also brought some basic and favorite seasonings (salt, pepper, cumin, garlic power, etc)
Once we got to our destination, all we had to buy were paper plates, paper bowl, plastic utensils (we hand-washed and reused them), and food! We brought some with us, but had to get the basics and more perishable ones.
Remember, download here to save for when you need!
What are your tips and tricks for getting through a PCS move in a less stressful way? Leave your comments below!