Ah PCS season. The season of living out of suitcases, hotel hopping and lots of fast food. But if you are able to get a TLF, or temporary living facility, on a base, chances are you have a kitchen, not just a kitchenette. This means a full oven, stovetop and microwave along with some pots and pans. If you bring your favorite appliances, and you can make some great meals that are tasty, budget-friendly and better yet – aren’t fast food.
Tacos – Many Ways
Get more meat or beans than you usually use, so you have leftovers and are able to make multiple meals from it. Taco seasoning packets are convenient, but there is also a larger container of taco seasoning that will last for many meals and usually has a better unit price.
Taco soup on the stovetop, combining all your favorite taco toppings in a tomato-broth base and topped with tortilla chips, cheese, and plain yogurt or sour cream.
Straight-up tacos – soft or hard shell.
Nachos – a great way to reuse taco toppings the next day for lunch or dinner without getting many new ingredients.
Use the ingredients to make quesadillas or burritos another day. Tacos are a great way to let everyone in the family add what they prefer onto their taco, individualizing the meal.
Sandwiches are great mobile food, perfect for house hunting, checking out local museums or going on school tours like living in the TLF. Don’t forget about the beautiful thing that is grilled cheeses.
If you have an extra pan to press the sandwich down on the stove, you can also make paninis.
Looking for a breadless sandwich? Consider chopping up your favorite sandwich ingredients and adding them to a bed of lettuce or mixed greens.
Rice bowls are a great way to add in any veggie or meat your family enjoys. All you need is a stovetop to prep the rice. In a separate pan, cook the meat and veggies. Top with soy sauce and a little honey for a sweet and tangy meal. You can mix up veggies with frozen or fresh, change the meat up for different days, and have rice bowls for several days.
Like tacos, potatoes can be individualized for each family member. Bake the potatoes in the oven and have toppings ready – cooked veggies, cheese sauce, bacon bits, shredded cheese and sour cream. These toppings are similar to tacos so you can do taco night one night and use the taco meat for the baked potato bar one evening. Utilize fresh veggies and cook them on the stovetop or get frozen veg and prep it in the microwave. There are even frozen veggie bags made just for potato toppings!
The beauty of a TLF is a full-size fridge! Load it up with fresh veggies and fruit and have a salad night. Strawberries, spinach, and pecans is a great summer salad. Go classic with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. Add another fruit to the salad mix with watermelon, greens, feta, cucumbers, and mint. If your TLF doesn’t have a cutting board or you don’t have one with you, consider precut fruit and veggies – while it is more expensive, it is still cheaper than fast food.
Breakfast for Dinner
Omelets are a great meal – protein-packed, and again – can be topped with just about anything, including leftovers. If you are looking for a great way to use up the last of those ingredients before moving out of TLF, or before another grocery trip, omelets are it!
Don’t Forget Your Favorite Appliances
If you are moving CONUS and can bring a kitchen box, consider bringing appliances that your family uses often. Make sure to check the rules at the TLF to ensure there aren’t issues with bringing along appliances. Most TLFs don’t allow outdoor grills.
Bring the blender if your family is a big fan of smoothies or soups. While some TLFs provide a blender, others do not, and not all units are identical.
Bring along the air fryer. Warming up potatoes or even leftovers can move quickly with the air fryer.
The crock pot can be a workhorse and is a great tool for meal planning in the TLF. Many recipes can be prepped in the morning and then ready when you return after a day full of house hunting or exploring the area.
Don’t forget storage containers. Most TLFs do not have storage containers, and you don’t want good food to go to waste!
Powering your body through good food will help manage PCS stress. Prepping these delicious meals for your family can be done when living in a hotel with a kitchen.