Our Readers’ Best Tips For Cooking Real Meals in a Hotel Room

published Jun 17, 2013
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(Image credit: duckeesue/Shutterstock)

After the first few blissful days of staying in a hotel, I start to get tired of eating out for every meal and begin craving the simple, comforting foods I make for myself at home. So when a reader asked for advice about cooking real meals while staying in a hotel, I read the answers with interest — and then excitement. So many smart tips!

Whether you’re headed to a hotel, motel or even a dorm room this summer, here our some of the best reader tips for cooking satisfying, healthy meals without a kitchen: what to bring, what to buy, and how to use that coffee maker to cook dinner.

Make the most of the in-room appliances. Did you know you can use the coffee maker, iron and hair dryer to make soup, quesadillas, tuna melts and more?

If they have a coffee pot, your options just expanded tenfold! When I was renovating my kitchen, I found (though tips here, actually) about using the coffee maker to make rice, couscous, and (my go-to) quinoa. It was fantastic. – the urban girl

I work with an uber-frugal road warrior. He makes soup in the coffee maker. 
– ChzPlz

Make paninis with the iron….I would wrap the sandwich in foil and then place a hand towel over it and then iron away. – miabica

Raw, commercial eggs will keep for 3-5 days unrefrigerated; home raised eggs will keep for three weeks – soft boil or fry on the iron (in foil, not plopped right on the iron!) – m_j_s

I’ve made cheese crisps with the iron and ironing board. Put a sheet of foil on the board, top with tortilla and any fillings you want, top with another tortilla and sheet of foil and iron away. I taught a class on cooking in a dorm and that was one of the favorite dishes. – ccp mbd

You can also make tuna melts on a tortilla with some veggies and cheese (from the cooler of course) and heat it up with the hair dryer. – mandoos02

Consider bringing an electric kettle or a rice cooker. If you will be staying in a hotel for an extended period of time, it might be worth it to bring one of these extra appliances for more cooking options.

If you brought an electric kettle and an insulated thermos, you could make rice, beans, oatmeal (even steel-cut oats), and just about anything else that you like that only requires heat and re-hydration. – Karenmarie44

If you have a kettle you could do ramen/noodle cups and then add some fresh ingredients to them. – Sara in America

Take a look at theyearinfood.com. I remember a while back she did a post about cooking some pretty amazing looking meals in a hotel room using a rice cooker.
– picklemuseum

Stock up on shelf-stable ingredients that are easy to heat or taste good cold. Canned fish, apples, bananas, peanut butter, dried fruit, avocados, bread, granola, crackers, instant oatmeal and soup mixes don’t require refrigeration and can be used to make simple meals. 

My go-to meal comes from Trader Joe’s: TJ’s Indian Fare – pouches of delicious Indian food in various flavors. My favorite is the Jaipur Vegetables. Couple this with TJ’s pre-cooked brown rice pouches and you’ve got a meal. Neither product requires refrigeration, just a microwave. – hollihop

Packaged backpacking food – all you need is hot water. Stop by outdoor sport shops such as REI. – m_j_s

Find a grocery store near your hotel and stock the refrigerator, if you have one. Yogurt, milk, cold cuts, sliced fruit, salad greens, vegetables and cheese make it easy to prepare quick and nutritious meals.

I always take a big ziplock bag of homemade granola with me. Once I get to the hotel, I go to a nearby grocery store and buy several days worth of individual yogurt cups, which I then refrigerate. – Sara in America

I would find a close-by grocery. You can use their salad bar for salad and for veggies for other meals, get small amounts of meat from the deli to make sandwiches, stock up on fruit…. – twosavoie

Do you have any tips for preparing meals in a hotel room?

(Images: duckeesue/Shutterstock)