My 10 PCS Kitchen Essentials

PCS. Permanent Change of Station. It might mean nothing to most people, but it’s a term military families have heard all too often. Basically, it means you’re moving.

I’ve now moved 6 times since marrying into military life nearly 8 years ago, most being PCS’s, but the first couple were me following my then new husband to his training bases.

While my experience is within a military PCS, these tips can absolutely be used by my civilian friends too! A military move, especially the overseas and back ones I just did, can take as long as a few months. Let me explain briefly so we’re all following along.

We found out we were moving back to the States in the summer of 2019, had movers pack our stuff the end of August, moved out of our house early September and moved into a hotel, flew back to the States to our next base mid-September, signed for our house the NEXT DAY, waited until mid-October for our household goods to arrive.

So, essentially a month and a half without dishes, pans, utensils, furniture, and everything else that won’t fit into our suitcases.

Here are my ten essential kitchen items I make sure to keep aside so I’ll have them through my PCS. You can absolutely customize this for yourself, especially if you have kiddos. I hope it inspires and helps you!

My 10 PCS Kitchen Essentials

  • Sharp knife with a cover
    • Most of the time I end up with a small kitchen in my hotel room, but not always. Regardless, I never seem to have a sharp knife. A knife you keep out should absolutely have a cover of some sort so it keeps you and your suitcase safe. Do make sure to put this in your checked luggage when flying!
  • Small cutting board
    • This goes with the knife, but can also be used as a tray or even a plate.
  • Water bottles
    • We’re not big into buying disposable water bottles, so we make sure to each have a water bottle while PCSing. When your normal schedule is so disrupted, it’s easy to get dehydrated. This can also be empty through airport security and filled before boarding for free water during travel.
  • Travel mugs
    • If we have coffee or drinks other than water, these can be used for that. It’s nice to have a real travel mug rather than a tiny paper one from a hotel.
  • Instant coffee
    • Hotel coffee is rarely that good. Bring your own so you can start your day right! (You can bring tea instead, of course.)
  • Set of silverware for each person
    • I can manage eating off a paper plate for a bit, but plastic utensils are not my thing long-term. I like to bring a set of eating utensils for each of us.
  • Zip-top bags
    • These are magical for everything while moving. They’re great for pre-packing all the little bits and bobs before the movers come, as well as any last minute things like shampoo or the aforementioned silverware. It’s also nice to have something compact for any food leftovers you need to throw into the hotel fridge.
  • Dish towel
    • A towel, they say, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. You can use it to dry off dishes instead of a hotel bath towel, and it’s essential in a new house.
  • Half sheet-pan OR disposable foil pans
    • Having something you can throw in the oven is essential for keeping yourself from spending way too much eating out every meal.
  • Wooden spoon
    • I’ve found if I had to choose just one utensil to bring with me, the most versatile is a wooden spoon. You can’t make pancakes with it, but you can make just about everything else. Ha!

What else do you include in your kitchen essentials list when you move? Comment below!


Need more tips for your upcoming PCS? The FREE printables from Semi-Delicate Balance were a lifesaver for me! She’ll help you stay organized through this chaotic time with a PCS binder.

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