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INSIDE: Here’s the beginner’s guide to cooking in a hotel room. With a rice cooker and a few basic supplies, you can cook up some pretty tasty recipes!

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 we did to help cut down on costs was a little hotel cooking.

Now I 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 it has certain amenities. I’m setting aside the more “extended stay” hotels, such as Homewood Suites or Residence Inn, which have full kitchens inside the guest rooms.

In that case, you’re likely to have all the services and amenities you need to cook in a hotel room, and you don’t need to bother with some of the esoteric things we’re talking about here. In this cooking in a hotel room post, I’m talking about a “regular” hotel room, where you don’t really have any type of kitchen supplies.

You’ll want to make sure your room has a mini fridge. Some of the recipes we found for this type of cooking 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 or grilled cheese sandwich) as ways to do some cooking in a hotel room.

Bring the right supplies (can you say…. air freshener?)

If you’re staying in a “regular” hotel room, cooking 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 most 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. You can also cook in a hotel room using an Instant Pot. You might consider an electric kettle for boiling water for instant oatmeal (or something more creative), although most U.S. hotels offer free breakfast (and some offer an early-evening “manager’s reception” or “social hour,” which can amount to a free dinner).

rice cooker

Besides the rice cooker or Instant Pot, here are some of the best supplies we found for cooking meals 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 and 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 packed all of our supplies in a large plastic tub, which doubled as a sink to wash dishes! Here’s a look at our hotel room cooking setup.

supplies you'll need

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 four of the hotel room cooking recipes we used for our trip. Once you’ve got some good hotel room recipes, you’ll need to either bring your food with you 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 (because we had to cart around a bunch of food that we didn’t use on our trip). How does this meal look (spaghetti, shredded cheese and vegetables)?

easy meals on the go

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 cost saver 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 four tasty recipes that we used for hotel room cooking! These meals included pasta (macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti), served with vegetables and fresh fruit.

cooking in hotel room

#TDADDisney 2016 trip

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