Let’s be honest here. If you’re in vacation mode, the last thing you probably want to do is plan your meals too. To a lot of people, trying new foods when traveling is a huge part of the experience.
But for those that are on a special diet, have food allergies or need to cut cost, cooking in a hotel room (or vacation rental) is a great way to ensure that your diet, health and budget stay on track.
There are many reasons one may plan to cook in a hotel room.
Budget, food allergies, diet and time all play a part.
Eating out while traveling can put a big dent in your travel budget. This site states that meals for a family of four would typically cost about $132 a day. This does not include snacks, tips or alcohol which could easily add an additional $50-100 (especially if you imbibe in a couple of your favorite adult beverages).
I can easily prepare three meals a day in a hotel room for my family for a fraction of that cost.
What about food allergies? I admit that finding gluten-free and dairy-free options are much easier than they once were but depending on where you’re traveling, options still aren’t widespread. If you have severe allergies, your only option may be to prepare your own food.
The same goes for diets. If you follow a diet plan to lose weight, you know how easily you can ingest your daily calorie allowance when traveling. Even preparing one meal in your hotel can help minimize weight gain.
It only takes me a few minutes to whip up a great meal which saves time driving to a restaurant, waiting to be served and driving back to the hotel or resort. Plus, if I enlist the help of my family, our meal can be prepared even quicker and we can call it family time (you may want to insert an eye roll here, nine times out of ten, I’m preparing the meal solo but one could hope).
Have you ever gone on vacation and longed for a home cooked meal? I have. Plenty of times. Which is actually the real reason that I started cooking in a hotel room. My husband got tired of eating out.
When our kids were younger, my husband traveled for weeks at a time with his job which often led us to travel with him. When traveling that frequently, the cost of dining out at a nice restaurant was prohibitive and while the occasional stop at McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A is fine, too much of a good thing (or bad, depending on how you look at it) is bad for your health and waistline.
It was during this time that I began to seek out hotel rooms with a kitchenette. But sometimes that’s not possible and other times, the kitchen wasn’t properly stocked with basic cooking tools, making it hard to prepare the meals I planned. So I started to pack a few essentials. Over time, my list of essentials has grown and so has the number of decent meals I can prepare with limited resources.
Are you curious as to what I pack in my portable kitchen? Follow along, I’m getting to the good stuff.
What is a portable kitchen anyway?
A portable kitchen is simply a collection of basic kitchen utensils and items you need to create quick and easy meals in your hotel room. Just so you know, I’m not talking gourmet, but you should be able to create good basic meals while you’re traveling with little advance preparation.
Gather kitchen utensils and other supplies for a portable kitchen.
It’s important to note that my portable kitchen won’t look like yours. I have spent a large number of years traveling and preparing meals in a hotel room so what I opt to pack is based on what I’ve found lacking in most hotel room kitchenettes.
My list of supplies includes:
- Small cooking appliances (choose what works best for you; I have used all of these over the years but typically only travel with one or two at a time). Some ideas: a small George Foreman Grill, an instapot, a kitchen kettle/fryer/steamer,
- A can opener. I can’t tell you how many kitchenettes are missing a can opener.
- A small cutting board and paring knife.
- A large plastic serving spoon and/or spatula.
- A Collapsible Mixing Bowl (I actually have two of different sizes).
- A colander.
- A set of measuring cups.
- A dish towel and scrubbing sponge.
- Dish washing liquid.
- Clorox wipes.
I pack all my supplies in a medium sized plastic tote that can also serve as a makeshift sink if I need it to.
Other items that may come in handy.
- Ziploc bags.
- Aluminum Foil.
- Cooking Spray.
- Salt, Pepper and basic spices.
- Paper plates, bowls and plastic ware for easy clean-up.
I keep my portable kitchen packed and ready to go at all times so when an opportunity to travel arises, we’re ready to go with minimal preparation, ensuring that my family can continue to eat home cooked meals, even on the go.
What would you add to your portable kitchen?
Disclaimer: I was provided with Squish products to use for the purpose of writing a review (to come). No further compensation was provided. This post does contain affiliate links.