Hotel Cooking 101

Many of us travelers fret about feeding ourselves and our families whilst on vacation. I know food is the first thing I think about when I arrive in a new city! Though there are many, many amazing local eateries that I don’t want to steer you away from – but I know many folks are traveling on tight budgets.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll end up in a hotel with either a small kitchenette in your room or a kitchen for public use in the hotel somewhere. Kitchenettes are mostly in small suites in hotels. But if you have a microwave, you can sure whip up a decent meal for your family.

Through my travels I’ve found, to keep up with a healthy lifestyle and to enjoy the local life, that there has to be balance in your vacation eating habits. Balance things to your preference and budget. For example, I do 1/3 eating in and 2/3 checking out local restaurants.

I do the 1/3 cooking-your-own-food thing because I’m always on a budget and I really love cooking. I always make a travel cooking bag to make sure I have all of my staples for anything I cook while in a new town. Most of the items I keep in the bag are cheap:

  1. Multi-Spice Shaker: These are little plastic containers that contain multiple sections of spices. The one I use has 6 different spices. These are great because they only cost around $5.00. I like to have garlic, pepper, and salt if anything. Okay… so I HAVE to have those. I’m Italian. Garlic is a must. But the spice pack comes with those three, plus curry, paprika, and cayenne. Spices make the dish!
  2. Small bottles of non-parishable sauces. For example, a cheap and always good sauce to have that comes in a convenient little container is hot sauce! It’s low in calories and fat (though high in sodium, so be careful), and it’s cheap! My favorite Louisiana Hot Sauce sells from the generic brand that only costs $0.99!
  3. Small bottle of vegetable/canola/olive oil. This is where it can get pricey. But it’s worth it! You can do a lot with these oils such as use it for cooking recipes as well as using it as a non-stick agent.
  4. A small notebook of some simple recipes I can either make in a microwave or with one pot on a stove. Nothing fancy. Have fun with it! It gives you a good excuse to watch the Food Network. I’m guilty of watching Food Network  while running at the gym and taking note of some recipes for home and for the road. Food Network and the Travel Channel are great places to find neat recipes and great restaurants at your destination.

Making your own food can help you and your family eat healthier. You know all of your ingredients and you know exactly how much of everything you put into your dish. Plus making the food can be fun and a family oriented activity!

(PS: For those of you who are traveling by plane, here’s a quick link to a nice website that shows you how to make small healthy meals to take on the plane with you. Check it out HERE!)


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