Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hotel Traveling Meal Kit

Meal Kit with dishes, utensils, and condiments.
When Margy (and Wayne) start meandering for vacations, we usually stay in hotels. That usually means eating meals out. That can lead to over eating. While we don't diet on trips, we do try to manage our meals. We go to restaurants for dinner to enjoy the pleasure of eating out, but we alternate those with meals in our room.

Many hotels now offer a free continental style breakfast. When those are available we take advantage of them. When they aren't, that's where our "Hotel Traveling Meal Kit" comes in handy. This is a slimmed down version of our airplane camping and airliner camping meal kits. Those are more extensive because we use them to cook meals on the go.

Restaurant condiments, individual milks, and drink mixes make meals easier.

Here are the key elements I include:
  • flat bottomed cloth reusable grocery bag to hold the dishes and utensils
  • small plastic plates (one each)
  • small plastic bowl (one each)
  • one medium plastic bowl for salads
  • metal utensils if checking your bag
  • plastic utensils if you use a carry-on
  • empty plastic water bottles for drink mixes
  • several Ziploc plastic bags in various sizes
  • several paper towels for napkins and cleanup
  • small restaurant-style condiment packs
  • liquid drink mix
  • extra cloth grocery bag
  • plastic grocery bags for trash disposal
  • folding cooler bag
  • lidded plastic rectangular dish to fit in the cooler bag

The grocery bag with the dishes inside folds over to about 6 inches (15 cm) in height for packing. The folding cooler bag takes up only about 2 inches (5 cm) and I use the lidded plastic rectangular dish (mine's about 2 inches (5 cm) high) to hold the utensils and other small items for travel.

My suitcase is a rolling duffel bag with a separate zippered bottom . All three fit in there side-by-side with room to spare. That leaves the top portion of the bag for all of my other things. In total, my bag usually weights less that 30 pounds (13.5 kilos). That's well under the weight allowance for a checked bag. If we are using carry-on bags, Wayne and I share the load.

Folding cooler bag with foods that need refrigeration.

When we get to our destination, we purchase for about three days at a time. If we know the room will have a refrigerator and/or a microwave, we purchase accordingly. If we know we will have to rely on our cooler bag for refrigeration, we buy fewer fresh items at a time.

Here's a typical list of what we get:
  • water in gallon (4 litre) jugs to fill individual water bottles
  • cereal
  • fresh berries
  • small milk or packs of ultra-pasteurized milk (doesn't need refrigeration)
  • muffins
  • hard boiled eggs (in most deli cases)
  • crackers and cheese
  • trail mix
  • deli tuna or chicken salad
  • other deli salads
  • green salad in a bag
  • seasonal fruit 
  • pie or cake that doesn't need refrigeration
  • chicken (fried or broiled)
  • deli spaghetti or lasagna (can be eaten cold)
  • bottle of wine
  • the choices in grocery store delis are almost endless
  • ice from the hotel

I use my extra cloth grocery bag for some of the groceries. I accept plastic ones for trash.

Folding cooler with rectangular plastic dish in bottom.
Some rooms have a table and chairs. We've also eaten on the edge of our bed. When we travel by rental car from hotel to hotel during our vacation, the cooler bag comes in handy. I put the bottom portion of the rectangular dish in the bottom of the cooler bag to catch drips from ice sealed Ziploc bags. I use a good quality and double them up. The plastic dish helps reduce any leakage. I put the plastic lid on the very top to help keep in the cold inside the bag.

We don't each lunch, but do like a snack or happy hour treat. Many stores have sushi, or we nibble on crackers and cheese.

Another trick I use to save money is to get a grocery store discount card for our repeat destinations. In Arizona, I use Fry's. In California, I still have my old Von's card. And in the Pacific Northwest, Fred Meyer is a good shopping place.

We may eat simple, but it's a fun part of our vacation trips. Not to mention we same enough to splurge on other things like sports events, shows and souvenirs.

Do you have a travel tips to pass along? I'd love to hear them. -- Margy


  1. Very organized. We do similar things when we travel - though not as extensive travel kit yet - but we do have a cooler bag and eat one or two meals a day either at a picnic site or in our cabin (we love to find out of the way cabins to rent). Usually we don't have dinner, just breakfast and late lunch and then a little snack while enjoying the evening. If we do plan to eat out at night now and then we will skip lunch and just have a nibble to hold us over. Three full meals a day does seem like a lot of food - even when we are home.

    1. Like you, we usually do two meals a day. We opt for breakfast to get us started and an early dinner. I love coffee with cream in the morning. Many hotels that don't offer a free breakfast, often offer free coffee. It's funny, but the most expensive hotels usually make you pay for coffee. - Margy

  2. Love reading about how you travel, we had a very similar bag for our recent road trip. Like you we don't want to be overeating on our trip so being able to manage small meals on the road or in your car is perfect!
    - Nancy -


Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy