It was perfectly planned. My husband and I would take our youngest son with us, stop at my grandma’s house, stay in a hotel halfway to our new state, and arrive at our new home the next day. My mom would graciously bring our oldest son to our new home after the movers came and unpacked; I’d have the boys’ room and playroom all set up for his arrival so he wouldn’t have to see any boxes or strangers moving around his stuff (because of his special needs, he gets a little overwhelmed with change). 

We would only have to stay in a hotel for one night. Two at the max. 

We would only have to eat out for two days. Three at the max.

Well, our first ever PCS did not go according to that perfect plan. Who knew? Everyone except me!

To make a long story short, we found out just a few days before our move that the floors to our new house had not been finished. And those floors wouldn’t be through with their final coat of polyurethane until the day after the movers came with our stuff. Hmmm. No walking on the floors allowed. No letting our youngest little one crawl mindlessly around and play joyously with boxes and tissue paper. No sleeping in our new home until that lovely polyurethane smell dissipated.

No cooking in our new home. 

Our plan to eat out for only two or three days turned into six.

My husband and I do our best to be mindful of what we put into our bodies, so Chick-fil-A for our family happens maybe once every four months; on this trip, Chick-fil-A happened twice within four days! I know, I know — that sounds sooooo terrible. 

With the new mindset of being stuck in a hotel for the next few days without my pots and pans, I got to thinking that I certainly couldn’t be the only one whose PCS landed them in a hotel for longer than they expected. Though I can hope that our first PCS was our last, I know that is certainly not the case.  After about the fourth day of being in a hotel, I thought of these tips for future moving.

1. Bring a paring knife. There is nothing worse than buying a deliciously ripe avocado and butchering it with a plastic knife. You can buy a paring knife with one of those plastic covers over it, too, so it won’t cut a hole through your purse or wherever you decide is appropriate to keep your traveling knife. This little knife will allow you to cut up fruits and veggies and minimize your frustration of not getting all the good stuff from the fruit! If you get to your destination sans knife, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls typically carry a great selection.

2. Find a grocery store. Here, you can buy fruits and vegetables galore. A loaf of whole grain bread and a pound of sliced turkey breast makes for yummy lunches and some sliced-up apples and carrot sticks are great snacks (put that paring knife to use!). Yogurt and granola make for great breakfast foods since a gourmet egg and toast breakfast might not be an option without a pan and a stove. Even some healthy cereal or oatmeal will make you feel right at home. Most grocery stores have rotisserie chickens at an affordable price; cut it up (again, using that knife!) and pair it with fresh salad. If you’re near a Whole Foods, check out its hot bar deals. We found out through this move that ours has “Kids Eat Free” nights and “Meatless Mondays” (3 pounds of hot bar for only $8 as long as there’s no meat!). 

3. Make sure your hotel has a room with a mini-fridge. Most hotels do have mini-fridges nowadays, but check with your hotel before you unload your whole car, get the kids settled, and then realize there’s no fridge.While  you may not be able to fit a whole watermelon in there (you may need a bigger knife for that, anyway), you will be able to keep turkey, carrot slices, apples, and oranges nice and cool. 

4. Plan as much as you can. Planning sounds like an oxymoron when it comes to PCSing, but planning meals as often as you are able to cuts back on unhealthy decisions. When I didn’t have a plan of what we’d eat for a meal is when we’d end up grabbing something from somewhere fast (i.e. fast food!). Even if circumstances require you to go out for each meal, planning where those places are going to be will help you stay healthy. Researching your new area or your travel route for places to stop will help you make better choices rather than rash, I’m-going-to-bite-your-head-off-because-I’m-so-hungry-and-I-really-just-want-to-sleep-in-my-own-bed, precipitous choices.

My son finally got to play in the boxes!

5. Be sure to eat. Moving itself can be quite stressful; don’t let trying to make each meal perfectly balanced of vegetables, protein, grains, and fruits be stressful, too. I can be stubborn and just snack and not eat real meals if there are no healthy options. This is the opposite of healthy, and my poor family experiences the wrath of this unhealthy decision of mine pretty quickly. Feed yourself and your family even if it means going to fast food every day for a week. Choose the kale-broccoli salad instead of the fries at Chick-fil-A (this is much easier said than done), forgo that cinnamon roll from Panera (well, maybe split it with the family instead of eating it all yourself), and choose a granola bar over that Snickers bar at the gas station. Remember, it’s (hopefully) only a short season of moving. Making sure your family is fed is enough. 

This was our first PCS, so I’m sure many of you are experts on eating while traveling. What are your tips for trying to eat healthy during a hectic move?