Paycheck Chronicles

How to Feed the Movers on a Budget

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Feed the Movers on a Budget
There are many options for feeding your movers on a budget -- that aren't pizza. (Stock photo)

Updated: 3/25/2021

It's Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season, and moving trucks are pulling up to houses all over the country. And with those movers come a host of questions: should we feed the movers, will they stop up my toilet, should we tip? There are no single answers to these questions. But if you do feel that you should feed the movers, you're probably wondering: how can we feed these people without spending a fortune?

Thankfully, it isn't impossible. There are no rules saying that you have to provide any food, and military officials say it’s not officially recommended. While it’s common, even traditional, to take orders for Subway or pizza, but don't let those be your only options. The more choices you present, and the more comes from a restaurant vs. the grocery store, the more money you'll spend.

Some easy and budget-friendly choices, curated from my circle of military spouse friends:

Sandwich bar: a loaf or two of bread, some cold cuts and cheese, mayo and mustard. Throw in a bag of chips and maybe some carrots if you're feeling special.

Pulled pork. Throw in the crock-pot the night before and shred in the morning. Purchase prepared coleslaw or dump a jar of your favorite dressing on bagged coleslaw mix if your food processor is already clean. Buy buns.

Baked pasta. This one is probably better for cooler climates or winter months. A Stouffer's frozen lasagna will warm up the house while it's cooking, which is perfect when your front door has been open for three hours and it is 12 degrees outside. (You can also do a Stouffer's lasagna in the slow cooker. I always get asked for the recipe.)

Chili. Make on the stovetop, crockpot or pressure cooker. Can be served with chips, over baked potatoes or plain.

Hot dogs. Boil 'em up in your one unpacked pan, serve with diced onion (that you diced before the packing began and stored in a baggie), mustard and pickle relish. Or offer the leftover chili from yesterday to put on top.

Decrease the cost of the main dish by adding in cheap sides, preferably using up things already in your pantry or freezer. If it's really hot, a cold watermelon would be a hit.

If you really don't want "homemade" food, there are still ways to order out and save money. While it is tempting to get pizza because it is cheap, keep in mind that movers get fed pizza a lot. There are so many other choices!

Don't take individual orders, and don't ask them what they want. Order party trays or platter or a bucket of fried chicken. A small Chick-fil-A nugget tray serves eight and costs around $25 - that's a lot cheaper than eight orders of nuggets. Save any coupons that you get in the weeks leading up to the move.

If your heart and mind say that you should feed the movers, don't let your budget be the problem. There are ways to feed a truckload of movers for less than $10, maybe $20 if you include the cost of water and any other drinks you might provide. It just requires thinking outside of the (pizza) box.

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