Author Topic: Out of Town Spaghetti  (Read 3668 times)

pecunia

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Out of Town Spaghetti
« on: February 04, 2018, 02:52:08 PM »
I'm working out of town.  I get a per diem.  Many who get a per diem are restaurant eaters.

I bought two cans of spaghetti for $.65 / can.  Then I found I needed a can opener.  No can opener.  No spaghetti?

Went to J C Penney.  Can opener for $22.  Store clerk whispered to me under her breath,....."Dollar Store."

Dollar Store similar can opener for $1.08.

Spaghetti lunch for less than $5.00.  Much cheaper than most restaurants.  If I bought noodles and sauce, would have been even less.

Other suggestions for out of town food?

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2018, 02:55:21 PM »
I love every bit of your story :)

To support your health, you can also do stuff like grab a head of lettuce, a bell pepper, a cucumber, etc, from grocery store and eat them as-is. No need to chop, combine, etc. Just hold and chomp.

Friar

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2018, 03:33:34 PM »
This would be great if my employer paid a set amount rather than refunding receipted expenses.

Whenever my partner and I go on holiday, lunch is always bread and ham/salami from the supermarket along with some fruit.

Easy to make, easy to carry, and very cost effective.

I like the idea of using lettuce leaves as a container, or wrap, for some kind of filling. Maybe some mixed beans and a sauce.

LifeHappens

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2018, 04:10:22 PM »
When I travel for work, I like to buy pre-cut veggies, hummus and guacamole for lunch and snacks. For easy dinners at the hotel, you can often buy packets of rice that just need to be microwaved. Add some canned beans and salsa and you have a meal.

alanB

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2018, 08:51:03 AM »
Depends on whether you have the tools needed to cook - knife + fire.  If so, you can easily get <$1 per meal or even <$1 per day if you are there a few days.

Just microwave is tougher, here are some ideas:

- Eggs - <$2/dozen.  Scramble with a little liquid, maybe water or you might be able to get those free half-and-half packets.  I have even mixed a few of those packets with water to make "milk" for cereal, people always tell me that is gross but it tastes OK to me!

- Sweet potato - <$1/lb.  Buy it in bulk and throw a few in your suitcase!  Puncture a few times before you microwave, it will take like 5-10 mins depending on size & power.  If you are feeling fancy you can probably get some free butter packets at the hotel, so delicious.

- Bacon - huge price range.  I think even cheap microwaves usually have a "bacon" setting.

- Ham - price varies.  You want the ham from the meat section, not the deli.  You do not even need to microwave or heat it, just bite away.  The only hard part is finding a small piece, since they are usually enormous.

- Popcorn

Definitely add some vegetables as others mentioned, at least you can get loose carrots, super cheap and you just wash and eat.  Avocado is good too if you can find a ripe one at an OK price.

If you like canned spaghetti (gross), you could also try frozen ravioli, sometimes it is super cheap.  I used to eat that when I was in college, like $1/bag.  At least you will not exceed your daily sodium intake in one meal!

ketchup

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2018, 09:14:09 AM »
My girlfriend travels a lot for work and her latest non-microwave shelf-stable favorite is almond crackers and canned tuna.  Cream cheese too, if traveling with a cooler.

Usually though, she will bring a cooler full of leftovers and just microwave her meals.  A couple months back she discovered that an entire 9x13 shepherd's pie will stay frozen on a 2.5 hour flight to Florida.

alanB

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2018, 09:37:26 AM »
A couple months back she discovered that an entire 9x13 shepherd's pie will stay frozen on a 2.5 hour flight to Florida.

One time I brought leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in a check-in bag on a cross-country flight.  Yea, those bins stay surprisingly cold.  Looks SUPER suspicious going through the scanner though.  I guess most people don't carry bags of bones?  Great way to get a private meeting with TSA :)

GuitarStv

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2018, 09:49:57 AM »
For breakfast, you can totally make oats with a coffee maker.  I've also heated up serviceable wieners and beans using the complimentary coffeemaker found in most hotel rooms.  Paired with some raw baby carrots and radishes (kept in the mini-fridge) it's cheap, filling, and won't kill you for a couple days. 

:P

Dollar Diva

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2018, 09:18:26 PM »
Plus 1 on the breakfast oats. I never travel without them. And nut those high sodium instant packs, but honest to goodness old fashioned oats (with golden raisins and flax seed thrown in for flavor). My husband discovered on one of his training trips that a jar of nacho cheese happens to fit prefect on the coffee pot burner. Not the healthiest food, but a nice snack with nacho chips and grocery store beer.

On another note, before the last trip to see family (12 hours away) I went by Aldis and bought their best rated $5-7 wines (8 bottles, 4 kinds). They lived trying new wines and I figure I saved at least $50 over purchasing it at their 1866-216-1072 horse town liquor store. Plus, the weather was regularly -20 or cooler and there is something to be said for staying inside and warm with plenty to drink.

MrsTuxedocat

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2018, 11:06:19 PM »
I like to make myself a veggie bunwich using hummus, tomatoes and cukes.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2018, 12:19:18 AM »
For breakfast, you can totally make oats with a coffee maker.  I've also heated up serviceable wieners and beans using the complimentary coffeemaker found in most hotel rooms.  Paired with some raw baby carrots and radishes (kept in the mini-fridge) it's cheap, filling, and won't kill you for a couple days. 

:P

One can also make overnight oats. Just leave a bowl of oats in milk or yogurt in the fridge overnight and the oats will be edible the next morning.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2018, 12:59:46 AM by Linda_Norway »

SharkStomper

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2018, 01:14:52 AM »
I travel a lot for work and the first stop once I hit town is a grocery store.  My usual list is sandwich stuff and drinks.  If I have a microwave in the room or hotel lobby I'll grab some canned stew or spaghetti.  I'll drop one day's per diem and get 10 or 15 meals out of it.

Don't forget to grab the soap and shampoo since they'll replace it daily.  I have enough soap at home to last for years.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2018, 05:38:06 AM »
Peanut butter is always good to bring with you. On bread or crackers or even on a spoon. Or bring some oatmeal and put a blob into the oatmeal when hot. Canned tuna, canned roast beef, canned salmon. You could make ahead rice and spaghetti then freeze in individual packets. Throw in a cooler. You could also pack spaghetti sauce into a packet and freeze then combine with the spaghetti. I have a vacuum sealer and it makes seal tight packets. You will need something sharp to open them like scissors. Bring a can opener for the tinned foods. Bring paper plates and napkins or fold up sheets from a paper towel roll. They come in very handy. Also, tuna comes in pouches now and sardines with mustard can be tasty on crackers. Individual packets of dehydrated soup. You might be able to pick up individual packets of mayo, ketchup and mustard at a fast food place. Some of these ideas will require you have a fridge in your hotel. Wraps are flat and you could pack them easily too. You could cook up some chicken breasts with rice, frozen mixed veggies then freeze. There is a Costco product called Madras Lentils that come in a flat pouch. It is like a chili and very tasty. If you wanted to you could bring cooked chicken in vac pouch and add to the Lentils. You could also buy or make some mashed taters, combine in a pouch the canned roast beef and veggies. All can be frozen then warmed in a microwave. I think you might need to put a couple of tiny holes in the pouch to allow the heat to escape and not have the pouch blow up. Bring some disposable silverware and a tiny bottle of dish detergent if you plan on washing up a few things. Another thing that I have done in the past is making a plate of food. Like roast beef, mashed taters and veggies, put it in a vac bag and seal it. Then all you'd have to do is punch a couple of holes in the top and cook in the microwave. You could buy some heavy duty plastic plates at the dollar store. Wash them and bring home. See this youtube demo with a dinner plate being sealed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMQZwaHKMps

Roadrunner53

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2018, 06:07:25 AM »
Here is a bag that heats up your food. Looks like it could be flattened pretty good for travel: https://www.amazon.com/HotLogic-Mini-Personal-Portable-Black/dp/B00EC7XJ00

ketchup

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2018, 08:27:12 AM »
Here is a bag that heats up your food. Looks like it could be flattened pretty good for travel: https://www.amazon.com/HotLogic-Mini-Personal-Portable-Black/dp/B00EC7XJ00
Holy shirt, that looks fantastic!  I might have to try that out...

asauer

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2018, 11:52:46 PM »
I used to travel a lot for work and the schedule was grueling so I rarely had energy to go to restaurants anyway.  I would get free breakfast at the hotel, buy sandwich fixings and a veggie for side for lunch and then buy some of the healthier boxed soups for dinner.  These items only used the mini fridge and microwave.  Always made $ on expenses b/c they gave per Diem vs. one to one reimbursement

lunahsol

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2018, 11:59:29 AM »
Here is a bag that heats up your food. Looks like it could be flattened pretty good for travel: https://www.amazon.com/HotLogic-Mini-Personal-Portable-Black/dp/B00EC7XJ00
Holy shirt, that looks fantastic!  I might have to try that out...

I have a Hot Logic Mini and it is indeed fantastic.  You can put a frozen meal still in the box inside it and it comes out perfect.  I also travel with a mini collapsible hot water kettle.  Meals in a hotel room are no problem :)

mm1970

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2018, 05:29:50 PM »
Ha ha that was awesome.

I guess it depends on whether you drive or fly.

We have spent a lot of time in hotels in the last couple of months due to evac, and we travel for fun occasionally.

For breakfast: usually try to stay at a hotel with breakfast.  If not, at least a mini-fridge and microwave if we are lucky.

Bagels and cream cheese (need a fridge).  Don't need a fridge if you eat peanut butter instead.
Noodle bowls with vegetables (need either a microwave or an electric kettle.  Found a cheap one years ago to boil water.)  heat water, pour over noodles.  Kind of like the spaghetti idea but Asian!
Microwaved veggies are good if you have a micro - just buy the bag and cook in it.
Sandwiches
Veggies, fruit, crackers, cheese, hard boiled eggs
Tuna or salmon packets
Nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal

One pot pasta - hear me out - I brought the instant pot last time we went somewhere and it was super easy.  Not useful if you are flying.
I have other friends who have taken their electric frying pan with them and made eggs or sausage.
You could get tortillas and cheese and make quesadillas on a frying pan or in the microwave (some of our hotels have only had the microwave in the lobby, still fine!)

When my husband travels, he'll often make do with Subway for lunch & dinner (when he's in the field).  Granola bars, fruit.  Hot pockets.

Sometimes we'll eat out and then there are too many leftovers, so we eat them for lunch the next day (need a fridge for that).

last hotel we stayed at had a happy hour every night with drinks and some light snacks.


clarkfan1979

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2018, 12:21:09 AM »
This would be great if my employer paid a set amount rather than refunding receipted expenses.

Whenever my partner and I go on holiday, lunch is always bread and ham/salami from the supermarket along with some fruit.

Easy to make, easy to carry, and very cost effective.

I like the idea of using lettuce leaves as a container, or wrap, for some kind of filling. Maybe some mixed beans and a sauce.

My mom bought restaurant gift cards and gave them to her two college sons. She doesn't like eating at restaurants and would pack her own lunch. 

Bbqmustache

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2018, 02:52:01 AM »
If you drive, consider traveling with a crock pot.  Set it in the morning and come back to a great dinner!

horsepoor

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2018, 11:11:40 AM »
When I travel for work, I like to buy pre-cut veggies, hummus and guacamole for lunch and snacks. For easy dinners at the hotel, you can often buy packets of rice that just need to be microwaved. Add some canned beans and salsa and you have a meal.

This is what I tend to do.  Most grocery stores sell grilled chicken pieces at the deli for pretty cheap.  I buy a bag/container of salad mix, some chicken and guac or avocado, maybe a tomato or something.  Pro tip - if you buy the smaller clamshell of baby greens, use the bag from the hotel ice bucket to set half the greens aside, use clamshell as bowl for making a large salad, then wipe it out and return the remaining greens for the next day's salad (assumes hotel fridge or a cooler).

Roadrunner53

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2018, 12:41:00 PM »
Kind of makes me wonder if the hotel maid might mess with the open food containers or if you put a crock pot in the room. Not sure if I would be comfortable with that.

HipGnosis

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2018, 06:59:31 PM »
Clark Howard said that one reason a lot of restaurants are having trouble is because a lot (most?) grocery stores now sell a lot of prepared salads, side and main dish items that ready to eat or heat-n-eat.  All sold per pound, so you can get just as much as you need / want. 

horsepoor

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2018, 08:13:34 PM »
Kind of makes me wonder if the hotel maid might mess with the open food containers or if you put a crock pot in the room. Not sure if I would be comfortable with that.

I've never seen any indication that any of my food has been touched.  Maids are trained not to tamper with guest's belongings; if they decided to, I'd be more worried about my electronics than my food.  If anything, they err on the side of not touching something if it's unclear whether it's trash.  No more risk than restaurant stuff messing with your meal.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2018, 04:39:33 AM »
You just never know what they might toss into the crockpot. Drugs, disgusting stuff...can't trust anyone.

horsepoor

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2018, 08:06:16 AM »
You just never know what they might toss into the crockpot. Drugs, disgusting stuff...can't trust anyone.

Again, so could restaurant staff, so do you not go to restaurants when you're on the road?  I don't leave a crockpot running in the room for several reasons, but often leave cooler or fridge full of food, and things like fruit sitting nearby.  No problems in 5+ years of doing this, but I have gotten sick from eating at a restaurant.

I guess if you piss off the cleaning staff, they could find another way - after all, they're handling your sheets and towels and all that.  Better just stay home.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2018, 08:29:16 AM »
For years and years I have travelled the USA, Caribbean and Switzerland. Only once, my Hub got food poisoning at a restaurant in Aruba. I have also had food in refrigerators in Timeshares and in small cube fridges in hotels. I have never had my food tampered with. However, with todays world, you don't have to piss off the cleaning staff for something bad to happen to your food. I just put that out there because we all need to be cautious. There are a lot of sick people out there that get their jollies by doing bad things. Even in restaurants. We can't fear everything but we need to be cautious.

GuitarStv

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2018, 01:16:21 PM »
You just never know what they might toss into the crockpot. Drugs, disgusting stuff...can't trust anyone.

Again, so could restaurant staff, so do you not go to restaurants when you're on the road?  I don't leave a crockpot running in the room for several reasons, but often leave cooler or fridge full of food, and things like fruit sitting nearby.  No problems in 5+ years of doing this, but I have gotten sick from eating at a restaurant.

I guess if you piss off the cleaning staff, they could find another way - after all, they're handling your sheets and towels and all that.  Better just stay home.

I'd actually expect that the risk is much higher (though still infinitesimally small) for restaurant staff . . . if you want to poison someone, you're not going to get a job cleaning rooms at a hotel staff in the hopes that someone eventually brings a crock pot.  :P


There's being cautious (good idea to wash your hands before eating to avoid germs) and then there's being ridiculous (not leaving a room without a full body condom and respirator).  I think the fear of someone poisoning your crockpot at a hotel falls in the latter category.

vatacvalves

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2018, 06:55:04 PM »
"you can often buy packets of rice that just need to be microwaved" I think it is a good suggestion

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2018, 08:57:23 PM »
...if you want to poison someone, you're not going to get a job cleaning rooms at a hotel staff in the hopes that someone eventually brings a crock pot.  :P

This just made me laugh so big... Oh, I can't stop!! I'm imagining them waiting patiently...years and years...scrubbing toilets and making beds for as long as it takes...

expatartist

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2018, 09:16:13 PM »
There's being cautious (good idea to wash your hands before eating to avoid germs) and then there's being ridiculous (not leaving a room without a full body condom and respirator).  I think the fear of someone poisoning your crockpot at a hotel falls in the latter category.

OMFG, dying as I read this...
There were days in Beijing where I felt the desire to leave with a respirator and a body condom would've been welcome in the midst of flu season. Those were the days.

hgjjgkj

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2018, 11:05:10 AM »
Rotisserie Chicken is good too. More expensive than those items suggested but delicious and could be multiple meals

Xlar

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2018, 11:12:39 AM »
If possible I always stay at a hotel with a kitchen, think Residence Inn or Hyatt House. They normally fall under my per diem and then cooking food is really easy! Plus they always have breakfast and often have "heavy hors d'oeuvres" that are enough to qualify as a whole dinner :)

Dicey

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2018, 01:24:45 PM »
This topic has been hashed and rehashed here on the forum (snert). A little google-fu will give you lots more suggestions.

HipGnosis

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #34 on: March 16, 2018, 06:25:03 AM »
This topic has been hashed and rehashed here on the forum (snert). A little google-fu will give you lots more suggestions.
Like what?

Dicey

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2018, 06:34:48 AM »

couponvan

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Re: Out of Town Spaghetti
« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2018, 08:17:49 AM »
I paid for law school for DH on per diem, OT and mileage back I the 90's....I was assigned to work 16 weeks per year at a location 120 miles away from my office, which was actually only 35 miles from DH's school.  We worked a minimum of 12 hours per day M-F. It was sweet because per diem was $50 plus $6 for tips back in the day.  $250/week for meals, $500 for OT, and $100/week for mileage. I used the tip $ to pay for my food and spent the rest on law school fees.  $13K just in those 4 months of work each year.  We'd go out a team 1 night per week, but the rest was just banked.

Meal ideas for hotels depends on whether you have a fridge/microwave or not where you are at.

With a mini fridge and microwave, you can make a ton of different foods - even real spaghetti.  If you're going to be there for a long time, pack a toaster. Bagels and cream cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches (they have reusable toaster bags you cook sandwiches in and wash out for the next time), hot ham or turkey, BLTs, Eggo waffles, etc. Cans of soup are good too with the sandwiches.