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Cooking in a Hotel Room- the Necessities

Cooking in a hotel room is a great way to stretch your travel budget but that’s not why I often choose to prepare food for my family on the road versus dining out. I have a family member who deals with some food sensitivities and it seems as though I’m always on a diet and attempting to make good food choices. I may not be perfect, but typically consume fewer calories when I prepare the meals and control my portion size rather than eating out.

The Necessities for Cooking in a Hotel Room

Why is Cooking in a Hotel Room a Good Idea? 

Since you’re reading this post, you may fall into one of these categories:

1. Are you a frequent traveler who tires of take-out and dining in expensive restaurants?
2. Maybe you love to eat out on vacation, but are simply looking for ideas to reduce your budget so you can travel more?
3. Your family also has food sensitivities or allergies that make dining out a challenge or dangerous.

I’ve been in each situation. My husband sometimes spends more time on the road with his job than he does at home. He abhors fast food so when I visit him, so I’ve learned to prepare easy home-cooked meals in a hotel room- even when a kitchenette isn’t available. It may surprise you, but I’ve become pretty good at cooking in a hotel room.

Tortellini, brussel sprouts and garlic bread- prepared in a hotel room

Beef and Bean Burritos, Reuben Sandwiches with Corn on the Cob, Tortellini, Brussel Sprouts and Garlic Bread, and Filet Mignon with Boiled Potatoes and a Garden Salad are a sampling of the items I’ve prepared over the years, using items from my portable kitchen which I store in a large utility tote from Thirty-One Gifts.

My portable kitchen

Necessities for cooking in a hotel room will vary based on the type of food your family enjoys eating. While traveling, I often seek out meals that are incredibly easy and budget friendly.

These are some of the items that I include in my travel tote:

  1. Disinfectant.

I travel with a large tub of disinfecting wipes so I can wipe down all the surfaces in the hotel room. Yes, I know, that may be a bit overkill for some of you. At the least, you’ll want to disinfect the area where you’ll be cooking. Click here to find my favorite disinfectant wipe.

2. A Vinyl Flannel-Backed Tablecloth

I lay this down on the desk, or area where I’m cooking to protect the surface and as a bonus, it makes clean-up super easy.

3.  A George Foreman Grill

I used to travel with a skillet and single burner, but now I prefer to use this handy item. This little grill allows me to cook warm sandwiches, garlic bread, quesadillas, hot dogs and even steak, for those times when we throw the budget out the window. Plus, the 2-serving grill sells for less than $20.

4.  A Jr. Frydaddy

Forget the oil and greasy fried foods, this item is amazing for boiling water, cooking soups and pasta, and steaming vegetables. This has become one of my favorite portable kitchen items and has extended the variety of meals I can cook so I don’t need to rely on the microwave foods. Did I mention that it boils water really quickly?

A bonus- this item comes with its own colander so I no longer need to pack one.

5. Basic Cooking utensils & dishes

I started out using paper plates and plasticware but decided it was more ‘home-like’ and saved money in the long run if I traveled with plastic plates, cups, and bowls and purchased an inexpensive set of silverware for the road. I also make sure I have a serving bowl with a lid (for leftovers- yes, we do have them), a mini cutting board, knife, and can opener.

6. Spices

I’m a firm believer in spicing things up in the hotel room- so I travel with my portable spice container.

6. A plastic tub, drying mat, dishcloth and dish washing liquid

Clean-up in a hotel room isn’t nearly as bad as it is at home. With limited dishes and no pots and pans to dirty, I can clean in a matter of minutes. I simply wipe down my George Foreman Grill, wash out my Jr. Frydaddy, and wash my dishes in a plastic tub and lay them on a drying mat to air dry. I pour the dirty water down the toilet, wipe off the tablecloth and pack everything pack into my tote. It really doesn’t get any easier.

7. A Cooler

While you’ll ideally reserve a room with a refrigerator, I’ve had times when one hasn’t been available. You can remedy this problem with a small cooler and ice from the hotel’s machine. It’s not as convenient, but it should still save you money.

cooking in a hotel room

Keep in mind that I’m an avid road tripper so it’s easy for me to pack this from destination to destination.

Are you ready to give cooking in a hotel room a try? What would you add to the contents of my tote? 

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