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This website was set up to get parcels to Australian Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Airwomen deployed overseas.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

C is for contents

Since you are battling against a 2kg weight limit, and the BM sized box weighs 175 grams, you need to know with some precision what each item weighs in order to maximise the value of each box. Due to packaging, most items weigh 10-20% more than the stated weight on the outside. Here are some examples:

No pack is complete with ANZAC biscuits. I prefer sending the UNIBIC biscuits in the blue packet. 356 grams actual weight, 300 grams nominal weight.

A smorgasbord of energy and protein bars. 65grams each. They actually weigh what they claim to weigh.

Kae Nuts. 263 grams, as against 250 grams on the packet. Very little packaging here.

2 minute noodles - 443 grams for a packet of 5 - nominal weight of 425 grams. I pack these into the space left in the box, so sometimes I might send 5 packets, and sometimes zip.

Wasabi Peas - it might say 220 grams on the lid, but they weigh 244 grams. I heard it said that these are all the rage at present.

This handy pack of baby wipes weighs 126 grams, and no weight is listed on the packaging. The coffee sachets weigh 78 grams, whilst the box says they weigh 45 grams.

Evidence of the Twistie tax in action - I have to buy three packets, because if the kids see them, they will tax the shopping one bag. A 90 gram packet weighs 95 grams.

Other items:

  • Six pack boxes of sultanas - actual weight of 265 grams, listed as 222 grams on the packet
  • Minties - actual weight 217 grams, nominal 200 grams
  • Peanut butter - 413 grams vs 375 grams on the jar
My next pack will look like this:

  • BM Box from the Post Office - 175 grams
  • ANZAC biscuits - 356 grams
  • Lip Eze - 17 grams
  • Robert Timms Coffee sachets, packet of 8 - 78 grams
  • Wipes - 126 grams
  • Minties - 217 grams
  • Twisties - 95 grams
  • 6 pack of Sultanas - 264 grams
  • Energy bars x 3 - 195 grams
  • 375gm Kraft peanut butter - 413 grams
Total - 1936 grams. Total cost $33.84, plus $2 for the box.

This is the sort of stuff that is available at most supermarkets - except perhaps the likes of Aldi.

The energy bars were the most expensive item, with 3 small bars costing almost $9. I need to find a discount health food store that sells them cheaply in bulk. As I buy these semi-regularly for taking on long rides, I have no qualms about buying a few extra for a digger who might be humping up and down some nasty hills in Afghanistan.

The same goes for the coffee sachets - they cost a bit for a small amount, but I like the idea of whoever gets this pack sitting down to enjoy a little bit of luxury with their morning brew. If you've ever brewed up ration pack coffee over a hexi stove, you'd understand.

Note the lack of chocolate - most commercial varieties will melt in transit. The same goes for chocolate biscuits, which is why I send Bloodnut or ANZAC biscuits.

A short note of thanks and some packing tape around the outside won't add much weight.

There's not a huge amount of room in one of these boxes, so you need to combine a mix of small dense items and lightweight bulky items. Ideally, the box should be full to the brim and weigh just under 2kg. It should look full, and not just contain a few weighty things rattling around in the bottom.

With my most recent box, I strayed too far towards the bulky items, and ended up having to cram the lid onto the box, followed by taping it up tightly. Getting it right is part art, part science.

The one thing this pack is lacking is reading material. As even a very lightweight magazine (Economist, Spectator) can weigh 250 grams, you have to be careful that you don't burn the bulk of your 2kg allowance with paper. Having a set of digital scales is very handy.

As for the wipes, I find the best place to buy them is at a discount Chemist.

So there you have it - 9 items that you can find at your local supermarket that will nicely fill a 2kg BM box.


blogstrop said...

Thanks BOAB. Very useful info.

kae said...

Kae Nuts - well, they wouldn't want Floyd's nuts.

To expensive, anyway!

Nilk said...

Perfect, Boy! Kae and I were just talking about the need to get started on contents.

You beat us to it!

Re: the mini packs of wipes, I second the suggestion, although I tend to grab a couple packs of the "toilet wiptes" when I go shopping, since they're flushable.

kae said...

Newsagents aren't supposed to do it, but if you're friendly with the newsagent (or the local supermarket), when they remove the mastheads/front pages from their magazines you might be able to fish them out of the bin and send them to the soldiers, would keep costs down, too. And the digs would appreciate them!

Unknown said...

Well done BoaB.

As you know, the more straight forward and unfrustrating you can make the process for those who want to help, the more likely they'll follow through.

Good practical guides like this are a solid foundation for your efforts.

Carpe Jugulum said...

Evening folks

As a tip if you can get a hold of catering packs (individual serves) of things like vegemite etc, they'll pack better & if you want to send coffee send reeeaaallly good coffee. Trust me in 10 1/2 years at sea good coffee is gold.

Well done Kae, Nilk & Boy on a Bike, i'll add this to my favourites list



kae said...

EEk, it's Carpe - you following me? Scary avatar.

I thought about the sachets of sugar idea... I have a contact at work who would know where I can get caterer's packs of stuff... wonder how much a box would be? Got to be cheaper than buying it from the supermarket?

bingbing said...

You can buy Vegemite in tubes. It's not quite the same, more viscous, but is much lighter to transport. And there's a decent amount in those tubes as opposed to catering packs.

Carpe Jugulum said...

No Kae, i'm not following commented after me.....that means you're following me.......and it's a happy avatar...a toothy grin if you will, a smiley face with a mission...fear me leftards (i can't back that up)

Carpe Jugulum said...

Thanks for the tube tip bingbing, i'll look for it.


kae said...

I thought that they could get vegemite.
A spread like peanut butter or nutella would be rare. I can't imagine the rat packs not having vegemite!

Boy on a bike said...

Every rat pack I ever opened had a small tin of vegemite in it - enough to last a normal person a week at least.

I used to just eat it out of the tin - the whole lot, "raw", so to speak.

Rat packs also always had jam. Not great jam, but jam. The type you could squeeze out of a tube onto a dry biscuit and eat.

I think it's things like Nutella and Peanut butter that are missing.

Carpe Jugulum said...


I've only used ratpacks a few times & usually there was a dearth of sweet stuff, lots of high bulk low fibre food & SFA bog roll. Whoever thought of the hexi stove should be whipped.

I know i would have killed for a tube of sweetened condensed milk

Boy on a bike said...

Condensed milk in a tube - in civvie life, nothing sounds more horrible. However, when out in the boonies, there's nothing like having a tube of it in one hand and a brick-like, ancient chocolate bar in the other and taking sucks and bites from them alternatively. A "poor mans" chocolate drink when there is no time to brew up.

kae said...

Forget vegemite.
Nice jam, nutella, peanut butter... condensed milk.
Good coffee bags, different tea bags... sugar sachets, sound good.

Carpe Jugulum said...

Sweetened condensed milk & a chokkie bar thats hard as a brick, scary as that sounds... a happy memory, thanks BOAB.

bingbing said...

I dunno. Mum sent over vegemite in a tube, heaps, and it's a saviour.

Disclaimer: there's often a tube next to the computer (sorry).

The only other thing I can think of is extra sharp and/or strong and bitey cheddar cheese. It might melt but the package is tight and selaed (?). That shit is like He3 over here.

bingbing said...


kae said...

They are Aussies and they have rat packs or a mess, they'd have vegemite.
I'm sure if there are any servicemen/women reading someone will let us know where they need what...

bingbing said...

And paprika powder plus other herbs and spices!

bingbing said...

Maybe put them in clippy bags to save weight.

BTW, Nilk, with digi scales and clippy bags, you might raise a few eyebrows, LOL!

bingbing said...

And snakes. You know those huge gelatin snakes, 30cm long or so.

bingbing said...

And I dunno, but maybe some of those mini Aussie flags to give to the villagers, especially the kids. And those mini koalas.

bingbing said...

Oh, and a few pages from a local (city and/or community) newspaper. It's just not the same on the internet.

kae said...

Pythons, Bingbing!

bingbing said...

True, Kae. I hope they let us know. Maybe this blog link should be sent to Richard Sharpe, even 186. I can't send stuff from Korea directly, but I can hit up the old lady up and transfer the cash.

My brainfart, er, brainstorm, was all the things I can't get over here that maybe the boys would like. No idea what's in their packs. Could only go on my own experience of not living in Oz.

Shit. Even a bottle of Aussie red, to add a little class. Couldn't hurt in that place (the place, NOT the boys).

Anyway, they're just ideas.

bingbing said...

Oops. Sorry Kae. *whimper*. I been away too long!

Ahem. Pythons.

kae said...

Shouldn't send alcohol...
er, Mr Sharpe and 185 already have been emailed (smiling).
Mr S should be returning any time... and 185 has just departed. I've had no feedback from them.

bingbing said...

Just trying to think outside the box. Not just the cliched Aussie stuff like Anzac biscuits (NOT sayin' the ain't yummy but), but other stuff. A few luxuries that might be unavailable.

Fucks me.

What do you want, boys?

Nilk said...

The Chief Bastard has been emailed and he's got his thinking cap on. Can't remember if Habib has or not, but I can drop him a line after.

Grimmy and a few of the others can also give hints - let's face it, the seppos are dealing with the same environments as we are, so they'll have some good ideas, too.

bingbing said...

BTW Kae, nilk, boab, just a suggestion, but have the addy and weight limit, other details, always at the top of the blog so you can just click the link and bob's your uncle...

Nilk said...

Also Bingers, can we go easy on the language, please?

I personally don't care, but I think it would be nice to keep it nice.

Nilk said...

You're ahead of the game, Bing. The plan is to have that.

You've got to remember, this is a blog run by a pack of oldies.

Well I am; not sure about the others.

bingbing said...

Fukn brilliant, guys.

'Bout now I wanna sing to Lily Allen!

Nilk said...

Bing, I'm a Lily fan myself, but please watch the language.

I'm over 40 and I can't handle too much of it.

Nilk said...

I hope that doesn't sound too grumpy, but what if schoolkids want to find out more?

Magilla likes to help me pack things.

I may hang over her shoulder like a buzzard when she's online, but not all parents do, and when she's a bit older than 6, she'll be wanting to surf the net on her own.

That's where I'm coming from.

PG-13 is a good rating to have, I reckon.

Carpe Jugulum said...

Ah Nilk...Lily a favourite of mine, (my daughter put me onto her), i like Alfie off her first album & Chinese off her new one...why...who knows, but i find Chinese just a lovely 40 pphhsshaw,

Nilk said...

I've not let Magilla listen to Lily's latest - her first album yes, but this one is not for a 7yo.

kae said...

Good idea, Nilk.
Just in case kids want to look. Some kids can filter, some can't.
Tell me if I slip one thru, too. OK?(or delete me and let me know!)

bingbing said...

Sure. Oops.

Sorry, guys.

If anything, they're just words. When my kids swear at me, trying to get my goat, I simply correct their pronunciation. A great diffuser.

Nesquick, Promite, Marmite, dried apricots? Saltanas?

Nilk said...

No worries, Bing. A lot us prefer to use other words, that's all.

There are lots of creative ways to describe things without profanity.

Profanity is fun, but there's a time and a place for it.

I'd prefer not here. :)

Carpe Jugulum said...

Oh good.... just jumped on as a follower for this blog, the fishing photo comes up & the avatar stays.....bugger, yet i'm still a good lookin rooster....for my age...don't go there.....que sera

bingbing said...

BTW Kids meaning my students.

And Lily coz her song's in my head (i was being sarcastic)- the GWB fu song really irks me.

Catchy, and beautiful voice, but bolt summed it up well.

Anyway, BOT, can anything else be dried like apricots and saltanas? Banana slices? Would they want them?

Carpe Jugulum said...

Not too sure on the dried fruit bingbing, thats a serious amount of clag to ingest


bingbing said...

PS Considering, feel free to edit, nilk et. al. Just please don't show Magilla Tizona til she's older. That's my refuge.

Nilk said...

LOL, Bing. She doesn't get the freedom of the web until she's at least 25.

bingbing said...

CJ, takes a bit of water?

Sorry. PMSL, pardon the pun.

Er, haha?

Carpe Jugulum said...

Nilk...only daughter is nearly 26 and she still doesn't get to touch dads laptop

Nilk said...

So long as it's under 2kg, that's a resounding YUP!

bingbing said...

25? That's a bit preemptive isn't it? Not yet a parent. But if it's a girl, a cage at 12. If it's a boy, same age, maybe a year or two later, multiple plane tickets all over the world.

Nilk said...

lol commented in the wrong thread.

Carpe, I've got my girl brainwashed to think that the longer she puts something off the better.

If I tell her she has to wait until she's 15 to do something, she says what about 20? I tell her that's even better and give her a big hug and a cheer.

Currently, she thinks that 40's a great age to start doing stuff like driving and drinking and going out.

bingbing said...

She will rebel. She will rebel.

But take heed.

I rebelled like a... er, rebellious person.

And I now have a great relationship with my parents. 5000kn away helps, but still a great relationship...internet, skype lalala.

I'll tell you this, nilk. You've trained Maj so well. Like a Marine. As Kubrik's film noted, not like robots but just slightly out of command's control.

Have fun! :-)

(no sarcasm)

Unknown said...

I've seen requests for dried fruits, banana chips included.

Dried fruits are carbo dense and make good quick munchies on long patrols.

Iirc, banana chips also have enough potassium in them that they help against electrolyte imbalance.

Bags of hard candies that are individually wrapped also tend to be appreciated. A few can be carried in a pocket and used to help keep your mouth from drying out when huffing and puffing your way up a mountainside.

Anonymous said...

Rats! I just wrote a comment (probably way too long) and it disappeared. I find that often happens when I use "preview".

Anyhoo. Glad I dropped in this morning (waiting for Insiders to start - we're 2 hours behind most of you easteners). I'd forgotten to weigh this package and was way over. The next one is underway, so the takeout has gone in there.

I got a some 2, 3 or 4 for $5 stuff when I went shopping on Friday so I can spread them out of the next few boxes for variety.

One of the lists I saw mentioned packet soup. Continental has a new range called Xtra Full - Thick and Big so I got a couple of those. Great flavours, too.

Grimmy, looks like I boo-booed with the sweets. I got jelly babies and sour snakes (god, that sounds awful). Apart from weighing a lot, sounds like they might not be ideal "pocket" items. Thanks for the tip. I'll get hard, wrapped sweets next time.


Bones said...

Allow a Marine grunt to offer some ideas?

You are only limited by your imagination. Think about what you would want if you were far from home in a mountain/desert area. Your basic needs for food, water and shelter are fulfilled and you get a shower once in a while. However, there is no coles or tescos around for any of the other ‘niceties’.

I’d go for things that are cheap and/or free for the most part. When you are a grunt you can’t carry the world with you but having some small “luxuries” can make your day. Important note though, try to keep the packaging size small. In other words, instead of a 1kg jar of something, a bunch of smaller packets of the same work better.

I know of a group of people in my town that go down to the dollar store and hunt for bargains, then sit in someone’s living room and make parcels up of the stuff that is cheap at home, but priceless overseas. Toiletries for instance. Small cans of shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoos, etc.

One great luxury is choice in food. It’s nice to be able to pull out a packet of noodles, or dehydrated potatoes etc. and make a quick meal and a brew on your stove. So any kind of lightweight, dehydrated, packet food is a major plus.

Bullion cubes
Dehydrated onion cubes
Vegemite tubes
Cheese tubes
Tea/coffee in packets
- Honey?

Fruit is a huge plus as well. The small packets of dried apples, bananas, etc that go in school kids lunches are great. So are packets of raisins, sultanas, apricots, mango, pawpaw, pineapple….. you get the idea.

Nuts of any sort.

Spices of any sort….. grab a handful next time you are at a takeaway place
Soy sauce
Chili/hot sauce

If they are on local rations, anything to spice up lamb or goat.
Mint sauce
Sundried chilis?

Handy Wipes or Baby Wipes

It is going to start getting cold there soon in the mountains. Hugely important will be:
Hand Lotion…… there is no misery liked cracked fingers

Going a bit farther afield…… bar towels with Oz teams or brewery logos. (Perfect sized towel for a rucksack)
Any Oz trinkets – Pins, miniature kangaroos. good for trading and also good for gifts to the locals, especially the kids so a soccer motif might not be a bad idea.

Before I finish, please include a note. It makes it more personal and gives them a feeling of home and they often want to respond and say thanks.

Just some ideas off the top of my head from someone who was there.


kae said...

Hi Bones

Thanks for your suggestions - sometimes when we have access to everything we can lose track of what the luxuries are that we might like out in the boonies.

I've found some toy cars, diecast, which I thought would be good for kids. Tennis balls, you can get good ones cheap second hand from a local tennis club.

I've got a stack of stuff to package up, including hard lollies, the flavoured pasta packs, nuts, dried fruit, dried pineapple and ginger, wasabi peas (wtf is it with wasabi peas, spit!), baby wipes, toothbrushes, small tubes of toothpaste, instant asian noodles, peanut butter, plastic bottles of preserved fruit (canned fruit without the cans), Robert Timms coffee bags, teabags, longlife milk, sugar sachets, longlife cream, drinking chocolate, milo, heaps of stuff.

This is the kind of information which helps us to send the best stuff to our fellows.

Hey, if someone baked a fruit cake with quite a bit of rum in it do you think it would get through ok?

Bones said...

Hi Kae,

I didn't want to bring up the fruit cakes but since you did.... they are absolutley indestructible and would remain edible after a nuclear strike. Put all the rum in them you like!

Also, I really want to back up and emphasize the coming cold....

Skin lotion

And I used to carry a tube of hydrocortisone cream which has a xillion uses.


kae said...

Again, Hi Bones!

Whenever I see lip stuff on special I buy a few.

I wondered about spices for goat, too. Rosemary, garlic, thyme, dried chillis, whatever. It's hard because it needs to be stuff that anyone can use - if they don't look after their own food the spices could be donated to ? or exchanged for other stuff?

Honey, hadn't thought of that!

About the fruit cake, as long as it woulnd't get confiscated or anything because the rum REALLY penetrates the packaging.

I've got Darrel Lea licorice and heaps of stuff, it's just a matter of boxing them up... and I'll have to set up a production line.

What about panadol or nurofen type stuff, is that something handy?

Nilk said...

Chapsticks I always include, and my local supermarket also has mini hand lotion things. I wasn't sure if they'd be a bit too girly, but I'll consider myself told. :)

Hydrocortisone is something to add to the list - I never thought of that.

Mind you, I have pondered adding some panadol or other paracetamol products. Just not sure if it's allowed or not. After all, you can't even have that in first aid kits any more!

Re the fruit cake. Kae, the godmother has offered to bake some fruit cakes to send over, and she's a whiz at things like that. I do the mud cakes, but they wouldn't travel as well unfortunately.

Bones said...

While I'm on a role...

Two of my most prized posessions are a beautiful hand knitted scarf in green and black yarn that a granny sent in a parcel to "A Marine" and a plastic jar divided into compartments with a rotary lid that lets me store 6 spices. I received them in 1983 in Lebanon and carried them in the field around the world until my recent retirement.

Your efforts will be appreciated.


Bones said...

Wow, posts are coming fast!

I can't speak for all but what I'd have liked is:

About the spices per goat. I'd send enough to do a goat in it's entirety. It's not like that is all that much. They will figure it out but too little would be frustrating and too much can be traded or saved for next cook up.

Nobody is going to stop a rum laden fruit cake, except the buggers in the rear who swipe all the good stuff before it gets to the grunts. ;)

And the more booze in them the more edible they seem.

About the panadol/nurofen stuff, they tend to be well taken care of in that way.

Candy... hard candies are excellent. They are great on patrol or stag.

About the skin/hand lotion,not girly at all. if you have ever had cracked skin around your fingernails in the winter you will understand.

kae said...

Hi Bones
The best stuff I've found for cracked bleeding lips and even cracked fingers (I get them too, washing hands too much after playing with the dogs), is pawpaw ointment. They make tubs of the stuff, tubes of the stuff and lip stuff, too. It's great, but a bit expensive.
All of us at OSK have our own blogs and anyone's welcome to email us with info confidentailly via our blogs, too.

Nilk said...

Kae, my local Coles also has mini deodorants like lynx and rexona. I've been tempted to grab a few as I go past. Mini shampoos for men, but that's something else I'm not a hundred percent on.

At least it would last a looong time with the standard crewcut.

kae said...

Hi Nilk
Hmm. Shampoo is probably nice, but one serviceperson I knew many years ago used to just use the soap in the shower, which is OK if it was the 40c cakes of soap, but using my good glycerine $1.20/cake soap from Germany (over 25 years ago) wasn't a good idea - he was also hairy so a lot of soap was used.

Nilk said...

I do have some very nice papaya soap, but I don't know if it would be appreciated so I'm saving that for myself.

The Pears stuff is nice, though, and I've sent that before.

Anonymous said...

So what is the postal address then for troops in either Iraq or Afghanistan?
Would like to put a parcel together soon but don't know now where to send to

kae said...

Currently I don't have an up-to-date address for parcels. I have tried to find an address but it is proving difficult.

The 2015 Christmas parcel mailing address is all I have. It supposedly closed on 7 December 2015, but I would try that one in the interim.

An Australian Defence Member
Australian Defence Force NSW 2890