Cooking healthy and tasty meals in a hotel room can initially sound like an impossible goal. These easy cooking hacks can make a world of difference and help your waistline (and wallet) feel healthier.
If you have stayed in a hotel room for an extended amount of time, you can probably relate to what I’m saying.
One would think that eating out every meal is easier but it actually gets old and, if you have a family, expensive, pretty quickly.
If you’re staying somewhere for only a couple of days, eating out every meal might not be so bad. However, if you’re in a hotel for a week, two, maybe longer, having to leave your room for EVERY SINGLE MEAL gets annoying fast.
Plus, depending on where you are, your restaurant options are only so extensive. You find yourself suddenly reliving your college days when you ate Chick-fil-A for breakfast, Chipotle for lunch, and pizza for dinner every day. Except for Sundays of course when you ate leftover cold pizza for breakfast.
You get the idea. It gets old quick.
Over the past few years, we have become quite the hotel dwellers and therefore, quite adept at cooking full meals in a hotel room.
Now, having said this, I would like to acknowledge that not all hotels allow you to have cooking appliances in your room.
Some allow certain appliances, and some have no rules against them. Be sure to find out what the rules are beforehand.
If they say you can’t bring in extra appliances whatsoever, ask if there’s a shared kitchen or hospitality room on the premises where you can do your cooking.
Still no? No worries. You may be stuck with only the hotel microwave but I’ve got that covered too! Skip down to point number three to find out what your saving grace may be.
Living out of hotels for months at a time will teach you a few tricks and hacks to prevent having to eat out every meal, at the same three restaurants every day, and will save you lots of money!
1) Take, borrow, or buy used cooking appliances
Anytime we drive to a location we’ll be at for a while, I just take my own appliances.
The number of meals you can cook in a crockpot/slow cooker, George Foreman grill, and toaster is amazing.
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If we have room for it, we’ll also take a rice cooker and toaster oven. Each extra appliance increases your meal options substantially.
Most hotel rooms these days include a mini-fridge, a microwave, and coffee maker. Each a saving grace of its own.
If your room doesn’t already have these in it, you can call the front desk and ask if any are available to use. I would suggest even calling before you arrive to see what amenities are in your room.
Some hotels even have slow cookers and other cooking appliances for you to borrow.
Lastly, if you really want to cook but can’t take anything with you and the hotel doesn’t have any to borrow, consider at least getting a Crockpot, or my personal favorite, an Instapot. You can order them online and have them shipped to the hotel for you and then sell it on an app such as OfferUp or Letgo when you are done.
Alternatively, you can also use the apps to possibly find and purchase used appliances and either sell them or leave them at the front desk when you leave.
Depending on what area you are in and how long you are staying, the cost savings of going this route could still be worth it!
2) Pinterest is your best friend for recipe ideas
Get Creative! There is an unlimited amount of meals you can cook in a microwave and crockpot these days.
Pinterest has so many great food bloggers that you’ll never run out of meals.
Here’s a list of meals to get you started: Healthy Crockpot Meals
3) Utilize the microwave and microwavable tools
Innovation is a great thing and today you can find lots of tools that help with cooking meals in the microwave!
You can cook so many different meals in a microwave that it’s worth it for these long stays.
For breakfast, I love this nifty egg poacher. It’s only $10 and totally worth it because, this version, unlike some of the cheaper ones on the market, is BPA free!
Lunch and dinner are a snap with this amazing microwave pressure cooker. Another great BPA free option to help ease your mind (a little) about cooking so many meals in a microwave.
4) Make cleanup easy… crockpot bags, plastic, and paperware, aluminum foil.
You know how much you hate doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen at home? Well, it’s not much more fun in a hotel either.
Don’t worry! You can take the easy way out (I know I do).
My life instantly became easier the day I discovered Reynolds slow cooker bag liners. They are BPA free and make cleaning up my crockpot a ten-second ordeal.
I literally take the bag out of the cooker and throw it away. That’s it. Cleaning done.
It’s also a huge help to use paper and plastic ware. Another cleaning task done in seconds. Silverware is a slightly different story but you can read my post about making life in a hotel more comfortable for all the details.
Use aluminum foil to bake dinners in if you have a toaster oven with you. When your meal is done cooking, you can toss it in the trash. Cleaning done.
It’s really the little things that make a big difference sometimes.
5) Ask for a mini fridge if you don’t have one
Like I mentioned above, ask for a fridge in your room if you don’t have one already. Being able to utilize a fridge is revolutionary for eating out of a hotel room.
This way, you can get all the staples like milk for cereal, eggs and bacon (yes, you can cook bacon in the microwave), and freezer waffles for breakfast.
Lunches are as simple as turkey or ham and cheese sandwiches, grilled cheese or quesadillas cooked on a George Forman Grill, left-overs from last night’s dinner, or a Trader Joe’s prepped meal heated in the microwave.
Easy snacks are hummus and carrots, fruit, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and bananas on a slice of whole wheat bread.
Dinner… Crockpot and aluminum foil meals that include fresh meats and veggies.
You get the idea.
It’s all possible in a hotel room, but having a fridge really makes the difference.
6) Make batches that are good for a couple meals
Don’t want to have to cook a full meal every day? No problem, just be sure to make larger batches that contain two to three servings for you/your family and eat leftovers for a couple meals.
Leftovers often get a bad rap, but sometimes, it’s actually really nice to come back after a long day out or at work and just pop a bowl of that great beef stew or chicken tacos, you had made in the crockpot the night before, in the microwave.
Meal done. Comfy pants on. Feet propped… Now that’s totally worth it.
Or maybe you’re the one with all the kids. That’s easier too. Store that leftover meal in the liner bag and put it back in the slow cooker again the next day to heat it up. Minimal prep work. Another meal done. One less thing to do.
And there you have it! All my best and hardest learned advice from living in or staying in hotels long term.
Have any cooking tips of your own for hotel life? Leave them in the comment box below!