In 2017 we took a family trip to Disney World (SEE: My top 5 Disney World tips for a budget traveler) for a few days, and one of the things that we did to help cut down our costs was do a little hotel cooking.
Now, I do understand that cooking in a hotel room is not for everyone, and hotel cooking is not even something that we do all the time. Still, if you’re doing long-term travel and wondering how to live in a hotel room, some of these hotel food ideas might be helpful.
Pick your hotel room wisely
If you want to cook in a hotel room, you’ll want to make sure that it has certain amenities. I’m setting aside the more “extended stay” hotels such as a Homewood Suites or a Residence Inn that have full kitchens inside the hotel room. In that case, then you’re likely to have all the services and amenities you need for cooking in a hotel room, and don’t need to bother with some of the esoteric things that we are talking about here. In this cooking in a hotel room post, I’m more talking about a “regular” hotel room where you don’t really have any type of kitchen supplies.
You will want to make sure your room has a mini fridge. Some of the recipes that we found for cooking in a hotel room would benefit from a microwave, but a microwave is not necessary – consider it a bonus if you have one!
In a pinch, I’ve heard good things about the ability to even use the hotel-provided coffee maker or iron (to “grill” a panini) as ways to do some cooking in a hotel room
Bring the right supplies (can you say…. air freshener?)
If you’re staying at a “regular” hotel room, cooking in a hotel room will require you to bring a few supplies with you. This can be tricky if you’re flying back and forth, but with a little bit of planning, you can still eat healthy in a hotel room.
The #1 crucial thing to bring for hotel room cooking is a rice cooker. There are a variety of “normal” (even kid-friendly!) recipes that you can make in a rice cooker that just need electricity.
But besides the rice cooker, here were some of the best supplies we found for cooking in a hotel room
- Small cutting board
- Knife (again, this is tricky if you’re flying)
- Measuring spoons or cups, depending on the recipe you use
- Paper plates / bowls / paper towels
- Utensils, including larger utensils such as large mixing spoons to help you make your recipe
- Storage containers / Ziplock bags
- Mixing bowl
- Dish soap / sponge / scrubber (to clean up after yourself!)
- Hand towels and/or pot holders
We actually used a large plastic tub to put all of our supplies in, which doubled as a sink to wash dishes! Here’s a look at our hotel room cooking setup
Cooking in a hotel room – plan your menu (plan ahead!)
Finding good hotel room recipes for a rice cooker is not too difficult, but you will want to plan ahead. Here are 4 of the hotel room cooking recipes that we used for our trip. If you’ve got some good hotel room recipes, you’ll need to either bring your food with your or buy it at a local grocery store. Here’s Carolyn making some homemade macaroni and cheese
We actually packed food for a few recipes that we didn’t end up making, which ended up being a bit of a waste (in that we had to cart around a bunch of food that we didn’t end up using on our trip). How’s this meal look (spaghetti, cheese and vegetables)?
I hope this beginner’s guide to cooking in a hotel room has helped you out. While it’s not for everyone (or every meal!), learning how to do hotel room cooking can be a big food savings when you’re living in a hotel room!
Ready to start cooking in a hotel room? You might check these top rice cooker recipes on Amazon or look at our 4 tasty recipes that we used for hotel room cooking!