Friday Favorite: Extra Kitchen Tools to Pack for Your Next TLF Stay

various kitchen tools on a butcher block
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One of the best things about staying in a TLF (temporary living facility) when you’re PCSing is that it “technically” has everything you need. It’s a step up from a regular hotel room since it has a living area, separate bedrooms, and a full kitchen.

But even though it does have “everything” you need, you still may want to bring some of your own things.

Let’s be honest: sometimes when you move, you still need a few extra kitchen necessities to get you through meals, make things feel more normal, and frankly, to not make you want to claw your eyes out with a dull knife*.

*Okay, that may be a little drastic, but we’ve never stayed in a TLF that has an actual usable knife. And that’s why it’s the first thing on my list!

I hope this list of my favorite kitchen things will help you with your next TLF experience.

A Great Knife

There’s nothing worse than trying to cut something with a dull blade, and it’s actually less safe if it’s not sharp. I love this particular knife because it has a cover for the blade, which makes it nice for traveling.

A Mix ‘n Chop

Taco meat is a staple when we’re staying in a TLF. I can make a big ol’ batch of it and feed my family of five several different meals from one batch of cooking. If you don’t have a Mix ‘n Chop, you’re missing out. This thing is a time saver in the kitchen, especially if you get to a place that only has spoon. Crumbling beef with a spoon is next to impossible! I always make sure to pack it in my TLF bag.

An Instant-Read Thermometer

You need an instant thermometer if you plan on making steaks, cooking chicken, or just want to make sure you’re not going to give someone in your family food poisoning (trust me: I’ve been there, done that in a TLF, and it is NOT fun). I love that this is small and compact, but a total necessity.

A Great (BIG) Pan

OK, hang with me for this one; it may seem a little excessive since TLF’s have pots and pans for you. The problem is that they always seem to have stainless steel pots and pans, and every single time I’ve used one, I burn the crap out of our food (not to mention that I have a literal meltdown, because it just cooks differently).

Now,  I bring this big skillet when we’re TLF-living for several reasons:

1. The handle comes off for easy storage
2. It’s surprisingly light (great when you have a weight limit in a suitcase)
3. It has a non-stick surface
4. It’s big enough to make an awesome one-pot meal
5. It goes in the oven, so it serves double duty as a baking dish

A Can Opener

Do you know how stressful it is to open a can of beans, corn, or any kind of can without a can opener? I do, and it’s NOT fun. We’ve stayed in two TLF’s that didn’t have a can opener, so I ended up buying super cheap ones (and both broke midway through our stays). Thankfully, I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I always pack a can opener now.

This will make me sound really “extra,” but I actually pack an entire carry-on-sized suitcase when we’re between homes and living in a TLF/AirBnb. When you’re cooking for a family for at least a couple weeks, I like to have the things I like. Not mentioned above that I also take are: a pressure cooker or slow cooker (if we’re staying in America), my favorite seasonings (especially if we’re OCONUS and don’t have access to our favorite things), an apple wedger, and an oven mitt. Because, seriously…some of these places barely give you a piece of cloth to use.

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Jessica Lynn, a seasoned Air Force wife and mom to three young kids, shares the good, the bad, and the laughable when it comes to life. You can find her talking about exciting parenting wins or her mom mishaps, local favorites in America, adventures around the globe (currently stationed in Germany), or sharing easy, no-fuss, family-friendly recipes; she likes to keep things real. In fact, she just wrapped up a year-long deployment and an OCONUS PCS, right smack dab in the middle of the pandemic…and lives to talk about it. When she’s not out exploring Europe or hurdling her little humans, you can find her reading a book, scrolling through instagram (come say, “hey” @jesstagirl), or taking care of her first love: her blog of 16+ years,