Cooking on the Road? Try 6 Smart Meals You Can Make in a Hotel or Timeshare KitchenBy Jenna Schnuer
Heading out on the road is no reason to give up cooking your own meals. Truth is, eating every meal out while traveling gets exhausting, expensive and, at times, unhealthy. Still, it’s easy to stick to a healthy, cost-conscious path with a quick course in making homemade travel meals. Actually, make that delicious homemade travel meals.
Read on for tips on how to cook in a hotel or timeshare kitchen; plus, discover six easy travel meals to put into your regular on-the-road meal rotation.
Think camping. No, you don’t have to head out into the great outdoors to make your meals (unless, of course, there’s a community grill at your hotel). Instead, put some car camping cooking ways to work for your travel meals.
If there are spices you love but don’t want to keep rebuying and you would rather not tote full-sized spices on your trip, buy a camping-size spice jar that holds six or seven different spices and toss it in your travel bag.
Or buy tiny food-safe plastic jars to create a smaller set of your go-to spices. Pack them in a waterproof-lined Dopp kit so you can clean out any spills with ease. If you’re checking bags, soy sauce and other liquids can be repackaged, too. Some brands of liquid condiments even come in tiny sizes — ideal for packing. Tabasco makes the cutest tiny hot sauce bottles in history — perfect for taking on the road.
Think local. Eating out isn’t the only way to work some local flavor into your on-the-road meals. Shop at small local markets or farmers markets and buy fresh goods from local producers that you can turn into tasty in-room meals. In areas known for fresh-caught seafood, pick up some local smoked fish for your breakfast. (Cooking fish in a hotel room can lead to a long, overly scented night, so maybe skip doing that.)
Think one-pot or sheet pan. Even if your hotel room or timeshare has a dishwasher, you don’t want to spend too much time on cleanup. So instead, focus on cooking meals that just require one pot or on whipping up sheet pan meals in which all the ingredients are roasted together on one pan.
You might even want to buy a quarter sheet pan to take with you wherever you go. Just slide the cleaned sheet pan into the bottom of your luggage — they take up basically no room whatsoever.
Think ahead. Plan your meals in advance so you’ll know how much you’ll need of each ingredient before you shop. Just buy enough of each ingredient for the number of recipes or days you’ll be in that location.
Snack dinners: This is a bit of a cheat, but for days you know you’ll just be too tired to cook, collect some of your favorite go-to snack foods and put them together into a meal. Organize each ingredient on a serving tray or plate so that they appeal to the eye.
A sliced pear next to cubed cheese bites and a pile or two of your favorite nuts. Perhaps some locally cured meats? This is a meal that pairs perfectly with some TV watching and a desire to skip out on all cleanup.
Roast chicken for one: Gather a few chicken thighs (skin on for flavor and to keep the meat moist), some halved tiny potatoes, precut cauliflower and carrots. Put everything on the same sheet pan. Sprinkle some olive oil around (or spray with olive-oil cooking spray — an easy way to take olive oil on the road). Add salt, pepper and smoked paprika or a spice mix you love. Roast at 400 F for 30 to 40 minutes. Turn once or twice. Now that’s home cooking.
Big salad: Buy precut ingredients from a supermarket salad bar. Add the protein of your choice — anything from smoked ribs you purchased from a local BBQ joint to a can of chickpeas. Top with olive oil and vinegar. (On the vinegar: Buy a selection of great vinegars next time you’re home and fill small jars with different flavors so you can vary your dressing.)
Grab-and-go breakfast: For this recipe, you’ll need one small covered bowl. (If your hotel kitchenette won’t have one, just pack a small set of plastic containers in your luggage.) Then it’s all about layers. Add a 1/2 cup of oats or quinoa to the bottom of the bowl. Then add some unsweetened coconut and a teaspoon of chia seeds. Pour in enough nut milk or oat milk to cover those layers. Sprinkle chopped fruit and nuts on top. Cover. Put in the fridge. By morning, the oats or quinoa will be soft and ready to eat.
Nacho business: For big, fun flavor in a comfort-food way without too much muss, fuss or calories, Cooking Light’s Sheet Pan Kimchi Nachos should be your go-to travel meal.
Late-Night Cravings: Satisfy your worked-so-hard self with a mac and cheese you’ll want to make at home, too. Food Network will change your weeknight meals with their easy take on this classic dish.