Did you ever take a trip and congratulate yourself on getting cheap airfare and a low hotel rate, and then notice once you arrived that you were blowing your budget on eating out in restaurants?
That happened to me on a recent trip. I found that I was spending between $15-$20 on every meal, and one night when I went to a “nice” place I spent almost $40 - and that was without even a glass of wine to make the price go down easier! Part of the problem was that I was trying to eat healthy food, and let me tell you, leafy greens don’t come cheap!
One day while walking, I passed a market, and I had a revelation: I should buy some groceries and keep them in my hotel room! With that, I went shopping, and for about $30 I bought enough food to last almost a week. My stress about spending too much money disappeared, and I was able to relax and enjoy my trip - and splurge on dinner! After a week of “in room” cooking, here is my advice on becoming a master hotel room chef.
What you will need:
- Electric kettle for heating water. Many hotel rooms have these, and if they don’t you might consider bringing your own.
- Small refrigerator.
- Pocket knife.
- Spoon, plate, mug, bowl.
Rules to follow:
- Keep your room clear of food garbage by taking the trash out every day.
- Keep meals simple. Limit cooking to foods that you can simply add hot water to.
- Always make your own breakfast. Splurge on dinner, but save on the first meal of the day by having cereal, fruit, bread, or hot oatmeal in your room.
Healthy foods that work well in a hotel room:
-Oatmeal. Place a serving of rolled oats into a mug or bowl, and pour hot water on top. Cover and let sit overnight. In the morning, the oats will be completely cooked. Stir in more hot water to heat them up.
-Leafy greens like kale or spinach. Add them raw to sandwiches, or place them in a bowl and pour hot water on top. Steep for a few minutes, then drain before eating. Trader Joe’s has bags of chopped and cleaned organic kale, which makes preparing it super easy.
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-Rice noodles. Pour hot water over rice noodles and steep according to the package instructions, usually 5-10 minutes. Stir in Japanese miso paste, and you have noodle soup.
-Whole grain bread topped with anything from almond butter to mashed avocado to goat cheese.
-Tinned sardines in olive oil. They come in pop top tins, so there’s no need for a can opener, and they contain omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, both of which are important for maintaining good overall health. Great on bread, plain or with mustard.
-Cereal, milk, fruit, and nuts. A tasty and low-maintenance way to start the day, or a delicious late-night snack.
-Carrot sticks. Munch on them raw, dip them in almond butter or hummus, or cut them up with your pocket knife and add them to your rice noodle soup, above.
-Energy bars. Look for ones that have minimal sugar and no preservatives, there are lots of them these days. They’re great as a snack between meals. Buy these at the grocery store, not at deli counters or coffee shops where they can cost three times as much.
Have you ever had a picnic in your hotel room? What did you make? Please share your suggestions for haute cuisine in the hotel room, or other good ways to save money on a trip!
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“If you want to learn more about Persian cuisine, check out my cookbook, The New Persian Kitchen. It’s available for pre-order, and in stores on April 16!”