with stays in the navy lodge of up to 60 days you’ll eat your share of Dunkin donuts, McDonald’s, Popeye’s, subway, taco bell & pizza. when you’re sick of fast food, which  will more than likely be in 4 days, you’ll be the chef! 

happy meals won't make you happy for long

happy meals won’t make you happy for long

enter. in. same meaning.

enter. in. same meaning.

one of the most frustrating things about staying in the Navy Lodge is attempting to cook in the small kitchenette. however the navy lodge does provide many kitchen items  during your stay.

you’ll have a mini fridge the size of beer keg, a 2 burner stove, microwave & toaster. in your kitchen you will find  a drying rack, 3 pots, 1 pan, 3 glass mixing bowls, a colander, cutting board, a glass measuring cup, plastic spatula, 2 mixing spoons {1 is slotted}, bread & paring knives, a can opener, corkscrew, potholder, utensils {4 of each: knife, fork, regular & soup spoons}, 4 large hi ball glasses, 4 small rocks glasses, 4 mugs, 4 dinner & salad plates & 4 cereal bowls.

deep sink

deep sink

2 burner stove

2 burner stove

tip#  ask the front desk for an extra fridge. if they are not booked full they might be able to put another in your room & if they sell out of rooms they’ll let you know when they’ll remove the extra fridge from your room. 

with 2 kids on amoxicllian for ear infections our tiny fridge was packed with milk & 4 bottles of amoxicillian. so instead of playing tetris to get the item at the back of the fridge out, i kindly asked for another fridge. 2 weeks of more fridge space made life much easier. lesson learned: it never hurts to ask for something. 

i’ll add my personal recommendations of what you’ll need & might want to buy while staying in the lodge. adjust these to suit you & your families needs as every family is different. i love to cook & you may not, therefore you might not need to buy anything. 

one word about the pots & pans the lodge provides: they are NOT nonstick! if you like food sticking, burning and scraping the bottoms continue to use them. for us this predicament was easily solved by purchasing a 12.5 in nonstick skillet for $21.97 on black friday. my husband & i decided this will be our “PCS” skillet. so once our household shipment has been packed we’ll continue to use this & pack it in one of our checked bags with our other various “PCS kitchen items”. while this may seem unnecessary it’s a simple way to make this entire process easier.

our “PCS” skillet

for about $13 i bought 5 3/4 in chef knife {by chicago cuttlery} that could easily serve as a form of self defense {if need be}. i chose a chef knife for it’s versatility as you can easily chop vegetables, cut through a cantaloupe & de-bone a chicken. i love the streamlined stainless look & the absence of the blade underneath the handle. i get creeped out by all the little bits of food & what not that get stuck under those handles. you never can really know if a knife is clean. with this one you most certainly can. it does need to be handwashed, but all GOOD knives need to be handwashed. any good chef knows that! 

perfect 7 1/2 in chef knife!

perfect 5 3/4 in chef knife!

sharp blade

sharp blade

the kitchenette doesn’t have a pair of scissors so make sure to buy a pair. i save the education box tops for my 4th grade teaching sister & was tired of ripping them off packages. the kitchen shears i bought at the nex have a built-in bottle opener which will come in handy.  

 buy paper towels, paper napkins & liquid dish soap at the commissary or mini mart. after using the dishes a few times we switched to paper plates. both my husband & i were tired of having to handwash everything!!  we put the humongous drying rack in the bottom of one of the cabinets as it took up half of the counter, literally. when we need to wash dishes we just put a clean bath towel on the counter as it takes up less space.

best paper plates as they're strong enough to withstand cutting food into tiny pieces

best paper plates as they’re strong enough to withstand cutting food into tiny pieces

naturally i bought a bottle of evoo {extra virgin olive oil}, old bay, salt & pepper grinders & garlic powder. taco seasoning packets {get the reduced sodium type} are great as a little goes a long way, just dump the excess in a ziploc bag. the packets of spices in the spice aisle will be your friend as it eliminates the need to buy entire jars {wait to do that once you’re settled & know how much space you have}. 

seasoning "staples"

seasoning “staples”

lastly get a bottle of liquid antibacterial hand soap. to make things easy i bought 2 bottles: one for the kitchen & one for the bathroom. in fact when i stay in hotels i always bring a bottle of liquid hand soap for the bathroom as i can’t stand the greasy residue from bar soap. please tell me i’m not the only one who does so. my mom thought i was nuts! 

it's the little things like soap that you tend to forget

it’s the little things like soap that you tend to forget

the downside to the kitchen area is the 1 electrical outlet to the right of the sink. naturally with 2 toddlers grabbing everything in sight i’d like to plug my laptop or cell phone on the counter to charge but we’re not able to.


the left counter is home to binders of important paperwork. our bar “sanity savers” is on the far right. the nex mini mart is the only place on base to buy alcohol. they have a decent selection of liquor, wine & beer. if you like limes in your mixed drinks i highly recommend buying the small lime juice bottle {which you can find in the juice aisle of the commissary} rather than fresh limes. this bottle is great when space is minimal but make sure to buy fresh limes for your dad’s vodka tonic when he comes to visit.

sanity savers

sanity savers

don't worry dad, i'll have the real deal when you visit

don’t worry dad, i’ll have the real deal when you visit

 you’re limited to what you can cook, but with patience you can make some great meals.  

my challenge is coming up with a nutritious dinner that will please 2 toddlers, but not require 20 ingredients & constant trips to the commissary. one can only disguise chicken in so many ways.

since you’ll be very limited on space & the first thing to forgo is refrigerated condiments. now is the time to create your stockpile


packets of ketchup from McDonald’s

dipping sauces from Popeye’s & McDonald’s

hot sauces from taco bell

honey for hot tea from popeyes

 sugar from dunkin donuts

straws! McDonald’s is the only place that has bendy straws which make drinks less messy for kids. i prefer Baskin Robbins’ pink straws simply because they’re the widest.

straws galore

straws galore

plastic utensils {as it’s one less thing to wash}

 as a former flight attendant i’m very used to taking extra freebies from fast food restaurants, hotels, etc. my husband might wasn’t used to this but he’s quick to tell me when we’re running low on bendy straws. when you’re living in temporary lodging i take quantities i know i’ll use, so it’s not a waste. i’m not the first mom with this mentality. we’ve all done it!

the commissary is closed every monday so make sure to plan ahead! if you have a stroller you will have a new appreciation for it despite the previous months of previous extreme profanity over it’s steering & turn radius.  

if you’re past the stroller days keep your mouth shut & kindly refrain from the “oh i remember those days! it’ll get easier honey” when you see stroller pushing mama completely clear off a display rack as she attempts to make a wide right hand turn.

if we had it our way you’d have to carry your groceries back to the Lodge, but luckily for you, the nice people at the commissary do exist.  simply leave your military id with the cashier & you can take your shopping cart back to the lodge. your id will be returned to you once you bring the cart back. 

grocery shopping, the easy way

grocery shopping, the easy way

invest in mommy hooks for your stroller

invest in mommy hooks for your stroller


groceries galore

i hope my meal suggestions are helpful as monotony of the same meals gets old very quick!

one quick {sorry this is NOT going to be quick!!} word about milk on the island, be prepared for differences. who knew cows & their milk could be so different? i’m still angry that i was deceived as a little girl as i though chocolate milk came from brown cows. on the east coast, in Virginia beach i mainly bought our milk at harris teeter, so generally i bought harris teeter brand milk. for quite some time we purchased organic horizon & stoneyfield. our kids started drinking cows milk at the age of 1 & neither showed any sign of intolerance or an allergy.

my husband & i were shocked when our daughter broke out in hives after drinking milk once we arrived in Japan. we gave her Benadryl, took pictures to document it in case it happened again, kept a journal of what she ate in hopes we might pinpoint the trigger, checked the milks expiration date & watched her closely. we were perplexed, our son wasn’t having this reaction, perhaps it was just her little bodies way of dealing with the change? that’s the silliest thing i’ve heard of. 

throughout our milk “detective” days i noticed a very different smell from the 2 major brands the commissary sells. your choices are california sunshine milk & darigold. we first bought the california sunshine milk as the darigold shelves were completely empty {i’d later learn why}.

the 2 choices

milk choices

put bluntly the California sunshine milk has a strong smell that it’s expired even when the expiration date is weeks away. at first i thought my nose was too sensitive so i had my husband check it & he had the same reaction. everytime we went to buy the darigold they were sold out. everytime! 

finally we snagged a 1/2 gallon of darigold & were pleased that it didn’t have that “bad milk” smell. i’m going to regret putting this advice out there, but if you only want to buy darigold milk you’ll need to stock up every few days. however, i won’t be responsible for the claws that come out at the milk counter! 

after a visit to the doctor i was even more frustrated that we wouldn’t be able to determine a true milk allergy since our base isn’t able to perform allergy testing. we were advised to switch to organic milk & see if the issue stopped.  so despite the high cost we made the switch and after a few hive free days we knew it was something in the california sunshine milk. we don’t consider it an allergy, perhaps more of an intolerance that her body reacted badly to. or maybe a virus she picked up on the plane that came out whenever she drank milk. who knows. 

switch to organic if need be

switch to organic if need be

don't worry, they sell lactaid here

don’t worry, they sell lactaid here

after 2 weeks of straight organic milk, mom knowledge told me to switch her to darigold. mom knowledge also told me there’d be no reason to worry about hives. but just to be safe i had the benadryl ready. this mom was right. 🙂 

buy this milk

buy this milk

in order to to make sure we don’t end up in hive-ville anymore i texted my husband a photo of the “mom approved milk”. darigold only comes in 2 gallon paper boxes {you know the plasticized kind} but their boxed 2 pack is cheaper than the individual 1/2 gallons.

i certainly hope my “milk clarification” helps you & your family with any potential milk issues that may arise. 

breakfast ideas: bagels & cream cheese, english muffins with peanut butter, preserves {jam doesn’t exist in my world}, or butter & honey, pop tarts, muffins {warmed in the microwave}, pecan rolls, donuts from baskin robbins, cereal with milk, oatmeal, instant or stove top. add raisins & brown sugar & you’re all set!, frozen waffles reheated in the toaster with maple syrup, yogurt- simply go-gurt {you know the kind in the tubes} takes up less fridge space but can be messy so make sure to have an extra change of clothes ready, granola- this can easily be added to yogurt, fruit- our kids adore cantaloupe to the point that they ate an entire melon in one day!  other great choices are apples, oranges & bananas. strawberries & berries are very expensive here.

coffee- there is a coffee maker in the room, but i haven’t used it. during & since my days as a flight attendant i won’t use a hotel coffee maker. nor will i share my horror stories. since my husband isn’t a java fan,  the easiest route has been Starbuck’s’  bottled coffee frappuccino’s or their via iced coffee packets. plus the via packs are perfect to throw in my purse or diaper bag. 

not as good as the real deal, but good enough

not as good as the real deal, but good enough

each morning the navy lodge has complimentary hot Starbucks coffee & tea in the lobby from 0800-1200. since drinking hot tea while pushing the kids in the stroller isn’t ideal i grab a few bags of that chugga-lugga-lipton so i can enjoy a cup in our room while the kids are sleeping.  

perfect remedy for a sore throat

perfect remedy for a sore throat

lunch ideas:  peanut butter & raspberry preserve sandwiches on whole wheat bread, all natural applesauce {we love the squeezable packets, but the individual cups are also great when space is limited!} simply pop one in the fridge the night before or if your kids are like mine they’ll eat it room temp, gold-fish {my kids love dipping their fish into peanut butter}, grilled cheese, soups {campbells microwave varieties are my favorite as i don’t have to wash a pan}, ham & cheese slices, string cheese, baby carrots, bell pepper slices, apple slices 

snacks {varies based on lunch}

cookies, cheez its, goldfish, pretzels, fruit, pudding 


rotisserie chicken from the commissary 

the easiest meal

the easiest meal

shake & bake chicken {done on the stove since you can’t bake it!} 



shake & bake chicken, rice & green beans

pork chops 

steak on the grille {the Lodge has an outside grill you can use} 

red beans & rice 

rice {the microwavable bags or individual cups} 

rice has never been easier

rice has never been easier

macaroni & cheese 

pasta with butter & parmesan cheese 


frozen ravioli

quesadillas, tacos or fajitas 

chips & salsa 

frozen vegetables {peas & corn are staples in our house}

fresh green beans or broccoli {they’re both cheap & always fresh}

shrimp scampi

all you need is a few staple ingredients

all you need is a few staple ingredients

voila shrimp scampi!

voila shrimp scampi!

due to the single control in the fridge it’s quite difficult impossible to keep ice cream frozen. unless you enjoy melted ice cream, make your life easier & get ice cream at baskin robbins or get a hot fudge sundae {without nuts, as they never have them} at McDonald’s.

 don’t forget that ever so necessary adult beverage. you need your sanity! 🙂 

mudslide milkshake

mudslide milkshake