Thrifty Eating on the Road

Thrifty Eating on the Road

It’s not unusual to hear people talk about how expensive it is to eat while traveling, in addition to the fact that it is not healthy. However, I originally wrote this post back in 2012 shortly after my husband Mike and I attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, and we got a room at the Candlewood Suites. (No, they did not pay me to write this!) Pretty much every chain of hotels has a suite line, which is not terribly fancy, but they include kitchens, so you can save on your travel expenses by doing some cooking rather than eating out.

It was the beginning of a new way of traveling and eating for us, and it came in especially handy in 2014 when I discovered an intolerance to gluten and a number of other foods.

Candlewood is just one of many hotels that include a small kitchen in each room. I’ve also stayed in TownePlace and Homewood Suites, among others.

The rooms have a full-sized refrigerator, microwave oven, pots, pans, dishes, glasses, mugs, coffee maker, and silverware. Some even have a two-burner stovetop and mixing bowls. They may even had a grill outside on a nice covered deck.

We usually eat breakfast and dinner in our room, and we have lunch at the event we are attending in case it is so far away that it doesn’t make sense to drive back to the hotel to cook.

If we are traveling by car, we take a picnic-sized cooler with us, and it contains our homemade yogurt, homegrown eggs and hamburger meat, salad dressing, and other things that needed to stay cold. It may also includes left-overs that we can simply reheat in the microwave.

Breakfasts is often our yogurt and homemade granola or scrambled eggs and flatbread, which is shown cooking in the photo from the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in 2012. I mixed up the bread dough at home the night before, and we had garlic flatbread to go with our salad and spaghetti for dinner. The flatbread dough was stored in the refrigerator, and we used the last of it to make flatbread buns for our hamburgers, which we had for dinner on the second night, along with more salad.

When I fly to speak at conferences, I usually stop a Whole Foods or local health food store to buy pre-chopped vegetables, pasta, a jar of sauce, and other foods that can be cooked without needing to add additional spices.

It is incredibly easy and even fun to cook while staying at a hotel. My only complaint is that sometimes the dishwasher can be insanely loud! The first night we stayed in one of these hotels, we started the dishwasher when we went to bed, and that was a mistake. I had no idea just how important “sound insulation” can be in a dishwasher, especially when the dishwasher is basically in your bedroom. I guess it has been awhile since I owned a dishwasher without sound insulation. Now, we made sure to turn on the dishwasher as we are leaving the room for the day.

What are some of your strategies for saving money and eating healthier when traveling this summer?

Thrifty Eating on the Road

3 thoughts on “Thrifty Eating on the Road”

  1. Camping! We're staying in KOAs, which have great rates, plus they include breakfast. We tent, but we get the sites with electricity and we have an electric picnic cooler. That saves money on buying ice, and dealing with wasted food that didn't stay cold, or got soaked when the ice melted. The cooler also plugs into the cigarette lighter in the car. Super handy! I can't rave enough about an electric cooler over the traditional kind.

  2. Hi just a quick question about the fair…We are looking into energizing our barn with solar power. Were there any vendors that come to mind? Thanks.

  3. We camp too, usually in state parks, which often don't have hook-ups available, but a good cooler with an insulated cover over it will keep things cold, even frozen for days without needing to replenish the ice.


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