12 Things To Stockpile If You Are Making Aliyah

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.

For more ideas, you might want to check out this post from How to Be An Israeli – she cracks me up – and read the comments section on this post from A Mother in Israel.

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?


  1. Such a great post! While I never lived in Israel for longer than 8 month stretches I missed two things when I was there: 1) soft sheets (even ones that cost a fortune in Israel didn’t compare to the cheapest, highest thread count in the US that you could often buy on super sale.) 2) makeup. Makeup in Israel seemed to straddle the line between junky drug store brands (think three levels below Cover Girl) or super expensive European brands that I was unfamiliar with. Since makeup has a limited shelf life at its best, I’d bring a 6 month stock of anything you are particularly attached to so you can try out what works and what is available in Israel. Good luck to the new olim out there!

  2. MAKE-UP! We were just there and I ran our of eye liner, ran to the super pharm and they wanted 65 shek for a maybeline eyeliner!!!! I lived without for the rest of our trip. I also second the contact solution, I paid over $10 for a TRIAL size of no name solution!

  3. Yes, you guys are so right about make-up. Make that #13!

    Aliza – I agree about the sheets, but the beds are not the same size, which means they don’t fit right.

  4. Missfrizzly says

    Yup, makeup!! We were just there for 2 weeks and I forgot my mascara at home- drugstore brands were about 100 shekel, I think (for what would be 4 or 5 dollars at Target…) craziness!! Also, about the sheets, some people do have American beds, we did when we lived there for a year (bought them off another American family when they left).

  5. TP in Houston says

    Mara this is awesome! We are making aliyah be”H soon, so I went to a facebook group for olim/moms and asked the same question: what do I stockpile…and GUESS WHAT? Many said check out KOAB she has great advice about stockpiling and getting products for cheap :-))
    For deodorant and shampoo, are you saying american brands in Israel are too pricy or even the Israeli brands?

    • That’s so cool about your FB group – I love it!

      As for deo. and shampoo – the American brands (I seem to recall a lot of Finesse for some reason) are definitely more $$, but the Israeli brands are also quite costly in comparison. I do love the Dr. Fischer’s leave-in conditioner for little kids, especially those with curly hair. We are still working our way through our stock of that from Israel. (it’s got rosemary in it, which is supposed to help repel lice…. just sayin’.)

  6. You can now find more and more spices being imported. Obviously for more then what it would cost in the states (esp. if you get for free) but you can find Cream of Tartar and almost all McCormick spices, even in non Anglo neighborhoods. The two things I really stock up on when we have visitors from America are Manischevits soup mixes ( Love split pea and minestrone) and Pam baking spray.

    • Wow, I’m thrilled to know you can get Cream of Tartar (and other spices) now – thanks for letting me know! 🙂

    • Rechelle – you can buy PAM baking spray in almost every supermarket – look by the other oils. And it’s often on sale…

  7. Jennifer H. says

    If you a bit of a naturalist, one other thing to take with you is a neti pot. I was there earlier this year and desperately needed mine. I visited every natural food store I could find and there were none to be found. All of the attendants knew what I was talking about but no one knew where to buy one.

    • Good one, Jennifer! My husband has horrible allergies and swears by his Neti Pot! Plus a stock of that stuff you add to the water would be a good idea.

    • You can use a baby nose syringe (motztez af) and warm salt water and get the same effect as the neti pot. A friend gave me this tip when I had sinus issues. She figured as a mother of 12, I must have a motztetz af (I did).

  8. Garbage bags! All garbage bags in Israel are either totally useless and require double bagging or incredibly expensive and cost more than 1 shekel a bag. Go to BJ’s or Costco and stock up on the generic store brand. Your lift doesn’t have a weight limit so go nuts!

  9. Hahahahahahahaha. Sob. I think your next fundraiser/shipment/chesed project should be shipping me Crystal Light. If all your readers chip in, I’m sure they can handle our needs. 😉

    Yeah, I really wish I’d had a bit more time to prepare my stockpile. That whole, “Babe, we’re moving to Israel in 6 months, right after our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah” thing really messed me up.

    My stuff is on a truck on its way to my house RIGHT NOW.

  10. Here are a few things I’d add. After living in Israel for a few years, we still try to have these things brought to us:

    vanilla extract
    onion powder
    socks,underwear and bras
    sneakers and crocs
    milkbones and rawhides for the dog
    OTC allergy meds
    bandaides and neosporin
    brownie mix

    • vanilla extract

      I was always able to get vanilla extract in Israel (certainly the imitation stuff). I was not able to find vanilla beans very easily!

  11. Soo…….. the best part about your blog was that (if your husband gets his way) you might move back to Israel.
    Whenever I get your e-mails, I think to myself – wow I wish she lived in Israel!!!

  12. Thanks for the link, Mara!
    Why can’t one get OTC meds here? The doctor can write a prescription, making the price quite low.
    Many American clothes are just not suitable for the lifestyle or the climate. They are too tailored or formal. And don’t think of bringing anything that needs to be dry-cleaned.
    We all have our little luxuries and there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, your cooking style will almost certainly change.

    • That is so true about dry cleaning. We once got a baby gift that was dry clean only (can you imagine?!) – it was promptly returned!

  13. As an Expat American living in Israel it was very interesting to read this post. I’d say stock up on your favorite brands of undergarments and socks! I’ll have to agree on the deodorant, Ziploc bags, ibuprofen, contacts solution, and clothing/shoes. As for Diapers and wipes, toothpaste etc… I’ll have to disagree. While these items might be slightly cheaper in America you’re going to pay a lot more money just to fill up space on your lift or in overweight luggage. You can often get buy one get one free packages of Huggies or Pampers for about 45 shekels each (about $12) and I just bought high quality wipes at 2 packs for 4.99 ($1.55) at my local supermarket. It’s difficult sometimes to live happily while constantly calculating how much “cheaper” everything is in America… one thing is for sure, I figure that I’m saving at least $50,000 per year on private Jewish day school tuition 🙂

    • You are very right on that whole day school tuition thing. Altho our kids’ schooling was never totally free – it definitely was less than $10K or more a year!

      How awesome that diapers now have BOGO sales – I don’t remember any from my days (left in ’08).

  14. I have no problem finding cream of tartar or premium spices at my local spice store. As a matter of fact, my spice store is imported to many of the kosher American supermarkets (Pereg).

    And really, the toothbrushes and toothpaste and deodorant and diapers and whatnot… do you think space on your lift is free?

    I WILL agree that Ziploc is missed and I did actually ask my mom to bring me some.

    But everything else? Look, the sooner you stop thinking ‘I could have bought this toaster for $10 at KMart and here it’s 150NIS’, the easier and happier your Aliyah and Klitah will be.

    • You know what’s funny? In the 12 years I lived in Israel, I *never* stopped thinking, “150 NIS? OMG, I could get that $15 in the U.S.” and then, as soon as we moved back, I did the opposite: “$1.50 per pepper?! I could pay that per kilo in Israel!”

  15. toothbrushes/toothpaste/deodorant/shampoo/conditioner/contact solution/sunscreen – I always manage to get on good sales

    feminine hygiene & diapers – take up tons of space. If you’re looking for how to fill your lift, go ahead, but these things seem like…well overkill to me. Again, buy when they’re on sale.

    vanilla extract – I make my own. buy vanilla beans from me – 6 for 22 shekels, and you can make 750 ml in a bottle of vodka for a total of about 55 shekels.

    onion powder – agreed

    socks,underwear and bras – agreed

    sneakers and crocs – agreed

    milkbones and rawhides for the dog – doesn’t seem worthwhile

    Tums – buy the store brand here, they’re not that much more expensive or less tasty

    OTC allergy meds – get them by prescription here to get a decent price, benadryl is basically unavailable here, though.

    bandaides and neosporin – bandaids aren’t expensive here. how many do you use anyway?

    brownie mix – learn to make your own. It’s not that difficult. Plus there is locally made brownie mix.

    Barbecue sauce and crystal light – if you love ’em, bring ’em. You can get barbecue sauce in specialty shops for a lot of money, and you can get crystal light on ebay, but not cheaply. Best to learn to live without them. My sister makes a good barbecue sauce with ketchup and lemon juice and spices.

    Kid’s clothes – you can get them here inexpensively, but if you can bring ’em from the us, you have better quality and selection for the price. There isn’t children’s place here.

    zip loc – definitely worth bringing, though you can get zipper bags in the “disposables” shops inexpensively. Freezer bags are a different story.

    Cream of Tartar – available here. not easy to find, but available. You can substitute vinegar if necessary.

    • I didn’t know that about vinegar – thank you! Is it an equal substitution (1 tsp for 1 tsp)? I am going to try that with my play dough recipe and see how it turns out! Cool.

  16. YAY!!! Thank you so much for this great post. I am going to save it for next summer, when we are slated to leave. I agree with Leah, Ziploc bags definitely need to be on the list. And if you are willing to get rid of the cardboard box they are in, you can fit a lot! Thanks again!

    • That taking out of the package tip works for lots of stuff, Ima! B’hatzlacha in your year of prep (we’ve got friends from KC who are moving next summer, too!).

  17. i think you also have to think about where you will store all these items once you get them here.storage is at a premium here.
    while i brought back zip locks……some of the other things are problematic—contact lens solution has an expiration date—i used to bring it back to Israel and then ended up throwing it out when the expiry date passed.same thing with tylenol and advil.
    the schlepping back thing is also difficult…..the weight allowances will get eaten up by toothpaste and shampoo–and then you don’t have room for some fun things like clothing or toys

    • That is very true. I had a good friend in Modi’in with a TWO car garage and half of it was filled with paper towel. Fortunately, we don’t use much, so that’s not something I’d need to stockpile ;-).

      I also wasn’t thinking so much of bringing all this in your suitcases, but rather sending in a lift. Although, I did routinely bring back about 6 months worth of toiletries everytime I visited my family.

  18. Actually not true- Sano makes great large garbage bags- they are orange and they’re the largest size.

    Also, you can take on the Israeli method of taking out your garbage every day and just use the plastic shopping bags you get at the supermarket.

    • True, enough, Abbi! I actually don’t recall having an issue with the garbage bags, but we took ours out a lot.

  19. What about the most important thing to stockpile?

    Money! 🙂

    • Ha, you are very right. Enough means you don’t even have to mind spending 20 NIS on toothpaste 😉 (or 200,000 NIS on a minivan!)

  20. At the end of the day there isn’t *really* anything that I miss from the States. It’s a frame of mind to living in Israel as an Israeli, not as an American who is returning to stock pile items from Target. I don’t think it’s so fair for me to raise my kids always wanting to have things from the US delivered via friends/family.
    But, having said that, what I do miss is: Makeup (I now wear less)
    ziplock bags, deodorant and antibacterial ointment.

  21. Just wanted to mention that I put brownie mix on the list only because it often goes on sale for less than $1/box and while I make really good brownies, I can’t make them for less than that, and the mixes in the stores here run about 15 NS/box.

  22. never tried making play dough. I know you can use vinegar in meringues though. the proportions aren’t 1 to 1. I just look for a recipe that uses vinegar instead.

    I can usually get toothpaste for 10 shekels a tube or less. sales, my friends… sales are the key here.

  23. I would certainly not take up space with things like shampoo, etc., and just get used to Israeli brands. Small things like deodorant, etc. you can stock up on a bit or have people bring when they visit. Ziploc bags take up little space and are so hugely useful (they have zipper bags in Israel but the quality is much lower and you can’t use them to freeze). (What is it with “chag pa’ami”/disposable stuff stores–do we have single-type item stores like that in the US?) Not to be stockpiled long-term but one thing that our friends get whenever they come back to the US is frozen Morningstar Farms various fake meat products, which they take in insulated bags in their carry-ons!

  24. I’ve heard printer/ink cartridges are a lot more in Israel.

  25. The Pam type sprays are sooo expensive here! 17/19.99 shekels a can around 5 oz not on sale. I just ordered from Walmart their brand olive oil spray 7 oz for $2.42 and regular Pam 8 oz can $2.78 free shipping like a dozen of each and my daughter brought them! Can’t live without Kashi Go Lean cereal also Walmart $2.88 box got 12 boxes somethings ya just gotta have!!!!!!!!

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