April 26, 2017

Budget Travelerís Guide to Hotel Room Meals

We left the hotel room with plans for an affordable romantic dinner for two. Unfortunately, our spastic, but lovable Labrador had another agenda. When affection, toys and treats failed to stop her barking, we knew it was time to regroup. Our solution? Even more affordable in-room dining.

But pet travel isnít the only reason hotel room meals might be a necessity. A hectic business schedule, attempting vegan travel, a hectic business schedule and traveling with food allergies can all contribute to the need for in-room dining. When travel circumstances result in the need for hotel room meals, hereís how you can make the most of it.

Water:

There are several ways to use tap water while traveling, including breakfast cocktails, powdered protein drink mixing and even getting your laundry done on the fly. Add a little heat however, and this free travel essential can really go the distance. By creatively using hot water on vacation, you can whip up a sore throat treatment during a ski getaway, an easy dinner side in the microwave and create a hearty instant breakfast. Another great helpful water resource for travelers is the ice machine. Not only is it perfect for chilling that in-room bottle of champagne, you can also use it to create iced tea when temperatures are too balmy to enjoy hot beverages.

Fridge:

If youíre going to be somewhere for a few days, consider stocking your hotel fridge with a few flexible supplies. Frozen veggies work well enough for simple side dishes, cruditťs and dipping sauces are great for snacking and sandwich supplies are always a good idea when you need something to eat without too much effort. Itís also nice to have some healthier beverages like tomato juice, coconut water and almond milk available to avoid giving in to the soda selection from the vending machine.

Microwave:

There are a fair number of hotel room meals you can prepare in the microwave oven. From easy ramen recipes to saffron rice with veggie burgers and steamed veggies, there are plenty of things you can prepare that will be much healthier than anything youíll find at the fast food drive through line. Boxed pureed soups from the grocery store make a stylish sip-and-save lunch to go when microwaved and transferred to a travel mug. Oatmeal with water and frozen berries can become a steamy, healthy breakfast in minutes. With careful grocery shopping, you should easily be able to come up with enough variety to get you through a few days.

Coffee Maker:

Even if youíre short a microwave, you can still prepare a few hotel room meals in your coffee maker. Thereís always the ramen plan of course, but also oatmeal and even a slow-cooked, soft-boiled egg if you can be patient. I also like to make large batches of tea to enjoy with ice throughout the day.

Freebies:

There are number of freebies provided by hotels that you can use to make the most of your travel meal plan. First of all, the breakfast buffets are typically too large to take full advantage of if you need to get up early in the morning. Common items are oatmeal envelopes, whole-grain bagels with individual containers of peanut butter, whole fruit, yogurt containers and flavored tea packets. Boiled eggs also make frequent appearances. All of these can be enjoyed later in your room. For people like me who donít like huge meals early in the day, itís easier to eat closer to lunch.

Shopping:

While itís true there are certain things you can only shop for once you reach your destination, there a few items you can strategically purchase ahead of schedule. With limited packing space, I recommend leaning towards flat pack foods that come in envelopes. (See also: 7 Easy Lunch Ideas for Work) Gourmet tea bags, precooked packets of sandwich salmon, Tasty Bite envelopes of Indian food and packets of miso soup are all things you can easily tuck into an extra pocket of your messenger bag or carry-on luggage.

Preparedness:

Veteran travelers know that hurricane preparedness isnít the only kind you need to worry about. The more crowded your agenda, the more important it is to have your ducks in a row. Save money and stress by shipping protein bars, peanut-free snacks and other shelf-stable items directly to your hotel. This is particularly helpful for those with food sensitivities, busy schedules or under calorie restriction. If you know what grocery stores are nearby, decide ahead of time what items you might like to pick up. For stores that are nationwide such as Samís Club or Costco, my husband and I have favorite food items we know to pick up, such as hummus, chopped vegetables and simple salad supplies.

Gear:

This is more apt to work well on car trips. Granted when Iím on vacation, Iím more apt to enjoy a meal out. But when I have a business agenda or am traveling for family or medical events, itís easier for me to manage my time and calorie intake if I have most of what I need in my hotel room. Since walking in with grocery bags can feel a bit awkward, I tend to prefer rolling insulated bags or even an additional piece of rolling luggage. Other helpful gear items we favor include a multipurpose tool, a sandwich press, corkscrew and a can opener. We also carry our own zero waste lunch kits which include things like a bandana napkin, travel flatware and collapsible bowls.

Hotel room meals may not be fancy, but they are achievable. They are also a money-saving strategy that allow you to channel extra monies and energies into business objectives, medical procedures and even vacation attractions. What are some of your favorite hotel room meals?

Photo Credit: Theme Park Mom