Most of you probably know that I lived in Israel for more than a decade. And if my husband gets his way, odds are pretty good that we’ll wind up back there again. (It’s not that I don’t love Israel – I do! – I just hate living so far away from my family.)
When I used to live there, I’d stock up on toiletries and kids clothing whenever I came back to America. Of course, that was long before I knew about the benefits of couponing and stockpiling at rock bottom prices. You know, before I knew that toothbrushes and toothpaste are supposed to be free. 😉 And even still, at full-price in America, I was paying one-quarter of the price at SuperPharm.
If I were going to move back to Israel in six months, here are the twelve things I would concentrate on stocking up on and sending in my lift.
1. Dental products – Toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. These are often free after coupon and sale at Target, CVS and Walgreens. Get a few years supply – they don’t “spoil” and you’ll save yourself 20 NIS a pop or more.
2. Shampoo, conditioner & body wash – This is a bit more cumbersome in terms of your shipment, but the savings will be huge. I aim to pay no more than $1 per bottle, and often get them free after ECBs or RRs.
3. Feminine hygiene products – If you use pads or tampons, there is no better price than FREE, which my stockpile of said items proves you can definitely get at Walgreens and CVS.
4. Diapers and wipes – A good sale on diapers in Israel, at least 3 years ago, was around 48 NIS per jumbo pack. Considering that my stock-up price is around $.10 per diaper (we used Luvs), that’s a huge savings every time your baby poops! It will take up a lot of room in your lift, though, so you will have to balance that against the savings. Of course, cloth diapering is a great option, too.
5. BBQ sauce – I easily could get two years worth of KC Masterpiece for free every summer, which is a huge savings when we make our favorite crockpot BBQ beef. Not to mention that you can’t get KC Masterpiece in Israel (at least I couldn’t three years ago).
6. Baby & Kids Clothes – In my experience, clothing costs three times as much in Israel, if not more. Start scouring the garage sales now for uber-cheap finds. Or use the Target apparel coupons to get next-size up clothing to keep your kids in brand new jeans for a while. I also used to do well at the Old Navy clearance sales for “gan” clothes – i.e. play clothes that you know will get trashed. By the way, this includes new shoes – and clothing/shoes for mom and dad, as well.
7. Deodorant – Again, the price difference is enormous between the U.S. and Israel. I aim to pay no more than $.50 per stick, and often can get it for free after rewards. I seem to recall paying around 20-25 NIS per stick in Israel, so again – a huge savings!
8. Tylenol and Ibuprofen – I actually really came to like the Israeli OTC meds, but if you are particular to Tylenol or Advil, I’d recommend stocking up on these, too. You could get the mega-bottles at Costco, but I find I do better with coupons and sales. While you’re at it, you may want to add some cheapo boxes of Band-Aids, Neosporin and the like.
9. Crystal Light – This is for my friend Abbi, who just moved back to Israel, and is missing her Crystal Light. It’s cheap and light-weight, so if you drink it, load up before you move.
10. Contact solution – If you wear contacts, the prices of solution are outrageous in Israel. Stock up on bottles here, but be sure to investigate shelf life.
11. Ziploc bags – If you can’t live without your ziplocs, buy them and bring them. Great sales (plus stacked coupons) abound and I never did find a decent alternative (although I readily admit that things may have changed).
12. Cream of Tartar – I know, totally random. But in 11 years of living in Israel, I could never find this at the grocery stores. I rarely use Cream of Tartar for baking (although my mom did once want it for a jelly roll she was making), but I do use it in my homemade play-dough recipe. While you’re in the spices and baking aisle, I’ve also been told that chili powder is worth stocking up on in the U.S.
As for books, I know that many of my friends who have recently made aliyah swear by their Kindles. It saves you loads of room (and weight) in your lift – and you can have access to all the English-language books you could ever want, often for less than $1 or $2 per book.
Of course, there are plenty of things that are better and cheaper in Israel, so keep your eyes open for those upgrades as well. Funnily enough, one of the things we sent BACK in our lift was a squeegee and packages of smartutim. I came to love mopping my floor that way!
Okay, Israeli readers and impending olim, chime in: What items do you think are worth stockpiling in advance of aliyah? And which can you live without?