You've got questions, I've got answers!
I sparked a lot of questions yesterday with the incredibly embarrassing photo of our consumables that we sent to India. Based on the comments and e-mails I've received about what we sent and why we sent it, I thought I'd follow up with a tad more info, and even give a run down of what in the heck we sent ourselves... inquiring minds want to know!
First and foremost, "YES", we can get food AND toilet paper in India. That seems to be the biggest question that everyone's been asking. But that's not the point of sending consumables. Of course we can get food (well, I say that knowing full well that many people can't, but that's a post I'm sure I'll do once I get there and get settled).
To quote a line in one my daughters newly favorite movies, "Let's start at the very beginning... a very good place to start..." India will be our first consumables post. Consumables are anything that are used up, they do not wear out. At some posts, needed foodstuffs are not readily available, and the employees (like my husband) are entitled to an extra weight allowance provided FREE to us by the good ol' U.S. Government (let's be honest, nothing is free when working for the government... though I digress). For our 3-year tour in India, we're allowed an additional 3750 pounds of consumables sent to us either in one lump sum - or in a total of 3 shipments.
To recap our weight limits:
Air Freight - we get 700 pounds... and we used ALL of it
Household Effects - we get 7200 pounds .... and we used 7028 pounds from Israel to India
Consumables - we get 3750 pounds ... and we used..... I don't know yet. We find out tomorrow
So back to our shipment yesterday. From what I've read, and ladies I've been in touch with in India, we can get a majority of the foods that we and the kids like, though it comes with a price. Imported food is expensive, and not just from the U.S., from anywhere. We're willing to eat the local brands, so that will help keep the costs down, but some foods that we're used to, just aren't the same outside the U.S. And some of it is just plain non-existent. The bottom line... it makes more sense to buy it now in bulk, pay less for it now up front rather than pay for it if we purchased it in India, and best of all... have it sent for free.
Think about it... how many of you have run out of Parmesan cheese, creamy peanut butter, mac and cheese, or hot dogs and had your kids utterly meltdown right in front of you? All you have to do is run to your local grocery and pick up a new one, plop it down, and you're fine. If that happens to us? Well... it's not as easy. It's finding a grocery that sells it, or making a schlep to the commissary and hope that they have what we need in stock, or ordering online from netgrocer.com and waiting... for 3 weeks for the USPS to deliver it to us. In the meantime, I'm bald from pulling my hair out, drunk from numbing the pain, and about to be reported to child protective services (or the Indian equivalent) after my never-ending tirade with the girlies to stop...their...whining.
We're pretty lucky, the girls are fairly good eaters. They'll try almost anything. For dinner, they usually eat what we eat. They know I'm not a short order cook. But as variety is the spice of life, even I can only eat the same type of cuisine a few times each week. Same goes for the girls. Matt and I love Indian food, and we would be thrilled if the girls expand their palates for Indian cuisine that includes more than just curry chicken. In due time.
The other items we shipped... like cereal, toilet paper, and wine. Well, I've heard that cereal can be upwards of $10 a box, we like our 2 ply toilet paper (especially if the rumor of having Delhi belly - aka diarrhea for the first few months is true), and Chennai is a dry state...so stocking up on wine and spirits was top of my priority list.
Here's a short list of items we sent in our shipment. I already know that I sent way too much... but the fear of not being able to send liquids (we're only allowed one 16-ounce bottle of liquid per box) when we run out was overwhelming. One more thing, while you look at our list, remember how much time and money it took to make the lists, buy the stuff, and organize it for the movers. We spent well over 3 weeks preparing for this shipment. Let's hope I did a good job.
* 10 large boxes Bisquick * 6 large bottles BBQ sauce * 24 packages spaghetti and accompanying sauces * Years supply of Pull-ups * 60 boxes of Mac & Cheese * 60 packs of Easy Mac * 16 cans of Parmesan Cheese * Year supply of everyone's vitamins * 10 jars ranch dressing * 18 jars creamy peanut butter * 36 cans diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste * 1 case of canned tuna * All sorts of ziplock bags, garbage bags * Plates, cups, napkins, paper towels, cutlery * 150 rolls of Charmin Toilet Paper * 12 bags of Chocolate Chips * Razor blades * 10 boxes maple syrup * 36 bottles General Tsao's stir fry sauce * 8 bottles Sweet Ginger Teriyaki sauce * Shampoo, Conditioner, Baby Shampoo, Hair Gels, etc * Every kind of First Aid imaginable, cough syrups, and medication * Personal hygiene products - deodorant, soaps, tampons * 12 bottles Girard salad dressing * 24 boxes of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Puffins, and Frosted Shredded Wheat) * Nuts of all kinds * 8 cases of apple juice boxes * 10 jars of 21 seasoning salute, and all other kinds of spices * All ingredients for Mexican food - refried beans, chilis, jalapenos, enchilada sauces, etc * Baking supplies - everything imaginable for cookies, cakes, breads, etc * 16 cans of Ice Tea mix * Wine and spirits and mixers * Condiments of all kinds - ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, honey * 200 pounds of dog food * Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc * Snicky snacks - granola bars, chips, fruit snacks, candy, gum, etc * Canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil * a bottle of sanity... which will probably break before I receive it.
There's a heck of a lot more... but you get the idea.