Today I walked around the grocery store and Walgreens in my town, just for a re-adjustment to American stores. I planned not to buy anything at the grocery store, simply because I knew the "novelty" of all that was available and my slight hunger would get the best of my wallet.
I marveled that everything was in English (and occasionally Spanish), because it meant that I could understand all the labels instead of just guessing or going with only the ones I recognized.
In Ukraine, you cannot buy a lot of pre-made soups or mixes or meals, where you only need to add a few ingredients. This proves to be both a blessing and a curse! You know exactly what is going into your meal, you can be creative with ingredients and seasonings, and there are few preservatives. However, the "curse" is that it takes MUCH longer to prepare meals and bread, dairy, and produce go bad faster.
I do have the luxury of the US commissary, which is on the grounds of the US embassy. This little store, with maybe 2 aisles and 2 freezers, is about the size of my grandparents' living room. They stock American products, but some are 2-3 times as expensive as in America. The commissary is a nice place to go when you are just missing American flavors or products that can't be found in the Ukrainian stores. The food that I purchased here would often be put in the cabinets and saved "for a rainy day," or a special occasion, or for when I just didn't feel like cooking.
This mentality has continued now that I'm back in the US. In the cabinets of the home where I babysit, there are boxes of macaroni and cheese, jars of peanut butter, etc. I see those and think to myself, I shouldn't use those right now; let me find something else that I could make.
In a strange way, I miss not cooking my own meals every single day (or living off of the leftovers). In the fall, within maybe a month of my return, I plan on having a "housewarming" party since I will be living in a new place. I look forward to having my friends over for dinner. :)
The following are things I'm planning on buying this summer to take back to Ukraine with me...but if you would like to support me by purchasing them for me, or giving me a gift card, that would be greatly appreciated!
*Note: Generic equivalents are acceptable.
*Creamy peanut butter (20 oz size--just ONE is needed)
*Salsa (16 oz size--if it's in a plastic container, all the better for packing)
*Cake mixes (like the Betty Crocker box type)--of any kinds, including coffee/crumb cake!
*Jello: cook and serve vanilla or chocolate pudding, and also strawberry jello mix
*Old Bay seasoning (ONE small package)
*Peppermint tea (NOT green tea)--Celestial Seasonings has this
*cheddar Goldfish crackers
*Jolly Ranchers and Smarties for my students
*Postage stamps (the "forever" kind)