Throughout the year, military families have been experiencing shortages at OCONUS commissaries. It started with a dispute with contracts as well as issues with shipment deliveries at the beginning of this year.
The discrepancies caused a back up and we, at MilitaryShoppers, shared DeCA’s response in April that the commissary shipments to OCONUS locations would still need several more months to catch up to normal levels.
In January, the overseas commissary stock on stores was at a terrible position. Shelves were empty for weeks and DeCA had to make emergency shipments to make sure military families were able to at least get the necessities. DeCA needed time to get the new commissary contract negotiation underway and after the agreement was established, the shipment process also needed time to smooth out.
At this point, the 3- to 4-month timeline that DeCA outlined has expired and OCONUS commissaries should be experiencing similar inventory as years previous.
It’s not common for commissaries overseas to have global shortages. In fact, commissaries are a very important go-to location for families stationed OCONUS.
With that said, it can still be a challenge to acquire certain American goods because of availability to ship and dealing with extensive shipping times. Military families miss the luxuries of what was once easy to buy when stateside. It’s almost an understanding that when a service member gets stationed at an OCONUS location that your family will have a limited supply of groceries.
Even before the major shortage of 2015, military families have been practicing tips and tricks for dealing with an overseas commissary because, let’s face it, we need to be a little understanding about the shipping woes.
Here are 3 suggestions to help you get through your OCONUS commissary inventory struggles.
- Try the Local Cuisine. Before my husband was stationed in Korea, he would have NEVER thought about eating Korean food. Well, I probably would have eventually presented it to him at some point, but he was such a picky eater! His assignment to Korea was the perfect way to “forcefully” introduce him to the food and he has since, opened his mind (i.e. taste buds) to different cuisines. Get yourself and your family out to the markets and pick up on the culture. You’ll be thankful for it later!
- Stock Up When You Can. When you see a particular food you like in stock that is sparse at times, pick up extras at the commissary and save it. If it’s something fresh, be mindful of the shelf life and use it before it goes bad. That could mean to double up on a favorite dish for 2 weeks in a row to get the most out of an ingredient that’s hard to come by. In addition, you can utilize the freezer to keep applicable foods preserved for awhile. I’m a fan of canned veggies for times that fresh ones might be hard to come by. It also makes for a quick dish when you’re tight on time with dinner too.
- Use This Time to Get Creative. Notice that an ingredient is not available at the commissary that is typically in your family’s favorite recipe? Think outside the box and substitute it for another ingredient that is available at your OCONUS commissary. Instead of being frustrated that something is missing, accept the challenge of modifying a recipe and you might be surprised by the taste. The worst thing that could happen is that you don’t like it. At least you tried and can cross that substitution off your list for any future meals.
Hopefully by now, the shortages that OCONUS military families have been dealing with at the beginning of this year has subsided and the commissary you’re familiar with from previous years is back on track.