Preparation vs. Reality: Consumables.

As we are about to hit our six months in Sri Lanka mark, I thought it was time to comment on one of the things that gave me most stress before coming here.  Our consumables shipment.  In fact, I worked for hours trying to figure out what to bring, what not to bring, sending e-mails to every person living in Sri Lanka I had an e-mail for.  (I am pretty sure that I was labeled "crazy/hyper/annoying" before I even arrived.)  What could I do?  I needed answers because I had no idea what I was doing.  

Let me back up, for those who don't know what the heck consumables is- it is a shipment that we are given that is for food and other essentials that we cannot get in country.  Many posts allow this shipment, and Sri Lanka happens to be one.  We knew that once we arrived in Sri Lanka, we would be able to ship some things from the States (from Amazon.com and netgrocer.com), but things like liquids  (peanut butter is considered a liquid) would not be able to be shipped.  So we needed to make sure we had our supply ready.

Here is what we did.

1.  Asked everyone we could what we should take.  We were told that we could get just about everything once we moved here, to buy mostly brands that we liked.

2.  As soon as we found out we were going to Sri Lanka, I started making lists of how quickly we went through certain things, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, contact solution, peanut butter, diapers, anything we thought we would need.

3.  Once we got to Virginia, we asked some more people what we should get.  We asked some good friends with kids the same ages as ours, who had just come back from a place somewhat similar to Sri Lanka.  They told us the best advice we liked the best.  They told us a lot of the prepackaged stuff, cereal, treats, pasta, and crackers tasted like cardboard once it arrived to them, and it was just as easy to get it shipped from amazon.com after we arrived.   So we avoided buying a lot of those types of things. 

4.  We focused our purchases on things like peanut butter, sauces that we like, baking supplies- flour, sugar, baking soda, powdered and brown sugar, maple syrup, things that are difficult to find outside the US of A.  Toilet goods- paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates.  Toiletries- shampoo we like, toothpaste, all manner of soap, sunscreen and bug spray. 

When we arrived we saw that we really could get most things on the local economy or at the small store that we have at the Embassy (similar to a commissary).  I am grateful that we brought a lot of stuff, though, as some of the things we like are more expensive here. 

Now that we have been here six months, I can say that we are happy with what we brought and what we did not.  We do have a few regrets, but nothing major.  The thing that I wished I would have brought more of is vinegar.  It is expensive here (a small bottle is about $3.00), and since we bought a Costco size bag of Baking Soda, it would be nice to have the vinegar to go with it.  

I realize this post is a little...well...boring, but it would have really helped me when I was doing extensive research on what to do for our consumables shipment.

After six months, we are still really glad that we are here.  We absolutely love it.  We have made some most excellent friends, we love our home, and life is good.

Just so this post is not all words, I am throwing out some of my favorite random pictures from the last six months.


Lisonbee said...

Things I do not regret sending over have been Sloppy Joe packet mix and Au Jus packet mix....we can make dinner for the Elders on the fly and they think they are home again! :o)

The Teeples Times said...

I think it's a very interesting post. I wouldn't know where to start either. I love your pics of the scenery there.

Just US said...

IF we ever get an onward assignment and it happens to be a consumables I will have to take your place as hyper/crazy/annoying person (although you are not any of those!). That is IF we ever get an onward. :)