Author Topic: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels  (Read 10085 times)

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« on: October 24, 2014, 12:26:20 PM »
So, I travel for work full-time.  Moving at every two to three weeks.  Living out of carry-on suitcase plus a laptop bag.

While my housing costs have been great since almost everything is covered by work or hotel points, my food costs are terrible.   

Since getting into MMM/FIRE, I've cut back from pricey lunches ($7-10), sit-down dinners ($15-30), and two coffee runs ($5) every day.  But, I'm still doing cheaper lunch from cafeteria ($2-4) plus take-away for dinner ($7-10).  I'm looking to be better about this.

I often (60-70%) have a refrigerator and sometimes (40%) have a microwave.  Rarely am able to get a residence inn style room with a kitchenette.  I generally have access to some form of grocery store - though sometimes that's like a Walgreens or a bodega. 

Any ideas/tips for easy meals for hotel living?


purplepants

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
    • My Journey - Purplepants' Journey From The 7th Circle of Hell
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 12:36:26 PM »
Quesadillas made using the hotel iron.  Just wrap your quesadilla in foil and then iron it on the hottest setting.

If you don't have a fridge, can you purchase a soft-sided collapsible cooler to take with you?  Fill it with ice from the ice machine and you can keep food cold as long as you keep replacing the ice (maybe keep it in the bathtub since it may leak as the ice melts).


MarciaB

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 481
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 12:56:01 PM »
Tins of things (tuna, sardines, chicken, smoked oysters) travel well and can be used on sandwiches and thrown on salads. They are sealed and don't need refrigeration. They are also small-ish and work well for single servings.

klystomane

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 180
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 12:57:18 PM »
So, I travel for work full-time.  Moving at every two to three weeks.  Living out of carry-on suitcase plus a laptop bag.

While my housing costs have been great since almost everything is covered by work or hotel points, my food costs are terrible.   

Since getting into MMM/FIRE, I've cut back from pricey lunches ($7-10), sit-down dinners ($15-30), and two coffee runs ($5) every day.  But, I'm still doing cheaper lunch from cafeteria ($2-4) plus take-away for dinner ($7-10).  I'm looking to be better about this.

I often (60-70%) have a refrigerator and sometimes (40%) have a microwave.  Rarely am able to get a residence inn style room with a kitchenette.  I generally have access to some form of grocery store - though sometimes that's like a Walgreens or a bodega. 

Any ideas/tips for easy meals for hotel living?

Self-employed or by a company?

If by a company, why aren't they paying for your meals?

Left

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 01:00:39 PM »
Are you driving to different locations? Namely, can you bring cooking tools? A rice cooker, george foreman grill and an electric stove would help make a lot of meals (even if you can sneak it in, not sure you want to use it if they don't allow it)

But I'm going to follow thread, I'm curious on how to do this as well. Aside from eating salad for every meal or a cold sandwich, other cold meals

edit: if you have access to a kitchen every once in a while, could you prep "dehydrated" food and just add hot water later on? I went to college with someone that did this for lunch meals.
http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/diy-instant-noodle-cups-food-lab.html

found this on wiki that was interesting but not sure how practical it is for you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sous-vide
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 01:04:40 PM by eyem »

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2014, 01:03:04 PM »
Quesadillas made using the hotel iron.  Just wrap your quesadilla in foil and then iron it on the hottest setting.

If you don't have a fridge, can you purchase a soft-sided collapsible cooler to take with you?  Fill it with ice from the ice machine and you can keep food cold as long as you keep replacing the ice (maybe keep it in the bathtub since it may leak as the ice melts).

Good ideas - thanks.  I admittedly don't know how to cook, so this is a steep learning curve for me.  Hadn't thought about using the iron so creatively.

I'll look into a soft side cooler.  Once collapsed, it shouldn't take too much room in my luggage. 

So far, I've been coming up with picnic type meals for the fridge but microwave situation:
  • cheese
  • nuts
  • peanut butter sandwiches
  • fruit and veggies that don't require preparation
  • yogurt

Left

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2014, 01:05:58 PM »
heh... can't testify to any of these but it sounds interesting
http://www.themarysue.com/coffee-maker-food/

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2014, 01:10:24 PM »
Quote
Tins of things (tuna, sardines, chicken, smoked oysters) travel well and can be used on sandwiches and thrown on salads. They are sealed and don't need refrigeration. They are also small-ish and work well for single servings.

Good idea - tinned chicken salad was one of my favorites as a child.  Hadn't thought of it.

Quote
Self-employed or by a company?

If by a company, why aren't they paying for your meals?

I get a per diem - so I am compensated for my meals, but still have an incentive to lower food costs since I get the full per diem regardless.

Quote
Are you driving to different locations? Namely, can you bring cooking tools? A rice cooker, george foreman grill and an electric stove would help make a lot of meals (even if you can sneak it in, not sure you want to use it if they don't allow it)


Unfortunately not.   I usually am flying or I'm in a variety of rental cars.  Limited to whatever implements I can fit in my suitcase.  So far that's a corkscrew (priorities) and a knife/fork/spoon combo.   

Thanks for all the ideas -- I appreciate everyone's insights.  This is definitely one of my bigger problem areas as I keep defaulting back to bad choices (financially and health-wise).

yyc-phil

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1027
  • Location: Yellowknife NWT
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2014, 01:14:10 PM »
I spend three weeks away from home, then two weeks at home where I really enjoy cooking with my wife. But when I am away, i do not have access to a real kitchen, so meals are pretty much the same everyday: a couple of bananas and 2-3 tbs of peanut butter, 1-2 oranges, a two-egg-and-cheese omelette in the micro-wave, half-cup of bruschetta, one avocado, 3-4 slices of bread, and 3-4 yogurts. So far so good, I am active and fit, bike to work year-round, and do not feel hungry at all.

Stlbroke

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2014, 02:13:56 PM »
I'm in a hotel every other day with my job. Here's some tips.
If no fridge, buy a styrofoam cooler and just throw it away when you leave town. Or fill up the sink or a clean trash can with ice, put your food on top and cover with a clean trash bag from housekeeping to seal in the cold
When I eat out I look for meals that can feed me twice.  Subway $5 foot longs and little ceasars $5 pizzas. Or somewhat not as bad for you fast food value menu options like mcdonalds chicken wraps
If there is a grocery store I sometimes buy $1 soups or cans of ravioli.
I always try and eat the breakfast at the hotels too. Usually there is oatmeal, yogurt and bananas

lakemom

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 399
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2014, 02:19:13 PM »
No concrete suggestions but most rooms have a coffee maker so could you carefully peruse the easy meals in the prepared foods aisle at the grocery?  Many meals that involve pasta or rice can be made with just hot water and some sitting time. Also, the various instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc. are a good option if you have a coffee maker in the room.

Most fruits and veggies do not actually need refrigerated if you will be eating them within 3-5 days. Little individual packs of condiments don't need refrigeration either. 

A loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jam and lunches for a week are taken care of.  Just add a side of fruits/veggies/chips and you are good to go.

Finally, check out this thread for a bunch of good ideas.
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/frugal-family-food-suggestions-while-in-hotel/msg410872/#msg410872

TrMama

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2943
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2014, 02:51:32 PM »
But, I'm still doing cheaper lunch from cafeteria ($2-4) plus take-away for dinner ($7-10).  I'm looking to be better about this.

That's a pretty cheap rate for lunch. Can you buy 2 and save one for dinner?

Add a can opener to your suitcase. You'll be able to eat lots of things that come in cans. Soup, chili, canned beans, chicken or salmon salad, canned veggies, dolmades, etc.

iamadummy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2014, 02:56:58 PM »
If the hotel has a coffee maker,you can use the burner to cook food.  Just monitor it closely.

starbuck

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Small Town Connecticut
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2014, 03:11:41 PM »
I'll look into a soft side cooler.  Once collapsed, it shouldn't take too much room in my luggage. 

If it doesn't fit, you can check your suitcase instead and carry on the cooler. That way you'd also have food for your day of travel. I always bring food with me when I fly, to save both my wallet and my waistline! And don't forget to bring a water bottle.

When I travel and I eat dinner at a restaurant, I always try and save half of it for lunch the next day. Portions are oversized anyways. At the hotel breakfast I try and grab and extra piece of fruit and a yogurt to snack on during the day.

If your room doesn't have a fridge, you can always request one and they might be able to bring one up to your room. Some places charge a fee, but most don't.

Do this right and you'll make a killing on per diem. Tax free, too! (And make sure you're signed up for all the various rewards programs. That stuff adds up. And if you hit elite status with some hotels you'll get freebies like concierge room access and whatnot.)

starbuck

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Small Town Connecticut
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2014, 03:12:24 PM »
Quesadillas made using the hotel iron.  Just wrap your quesadilla in foil and then iron it on the hottest setting.

Genius! I'm so trying that on my next business trip.

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2014, 03:17:32 PM »
Quote
so meals are pretty much the same everyday: a couple of bananas and 2-3 tbs of peanut butter, 1-2 oranges, a two-egg-and-cheese omelette in the micro-wave, half-cup of bruschetta, one avocado, 3-4 slices of bread, and 3-4 yogurts.

Thanks for the menu.  I definitely wouldn't have thought of avocado.

Quote
I always try and eat the breakfast at the hotels too. Usually there is oatmeal, yogurt and bananas

I usually am able to get breakfast at the hotel.  I'm not a morning person, but have been working on getting up early enough to take my time at breakfast.  I'll even admit to sometimes grabbing an extra piece of fruit for a morning snack.

Quote
Many meals that involve pasta or rice can be made with just hot water and some sitting time. Also, the various instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc. are a good option if you have a coffee maker in the room.

I stopped at Target on my walk home and grabbed some instant oatmeal packets.  I'm going to try that using hot water from the coffee machine.   

Quote
That's a pretty cheap rate for lunch. Can you buy 2 and save one for dinner?

Add a can opener to your suitcase. You'll be able to eat lots of things that come in cans. Soup, chili, canned beans, chicken or salmon salad, canned veggies, dolmades, etc.

I usually get soup for lunch, so without a way to reheat it wouldn't be a great dinner option.

I like the idea of a can opener.  I wonder if one of the old-school hand held can openers would make it through TSA security?

Quote
If the hotel has a coffee maker,you can use the burner to cook food.  Just monitor it closely.

That's clever.  I'll have to try it when I get a real-live coffee pot instead of single cup makers.

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2014, 03:29:49 PM »
If it doesn't fit, you can check your suitcase instead and carry on the cooler. That way you'd also have food for your day of travel. I always bring food with me when I fly, to save both my wallet and my waistline! And don't forget to bring a water bottle.

When I travel and I eat dinner at a restaurant, I always try and save half of it for lunch the next day. Portions are oversized anyways. At the hotel breakfast I try and grab and extra piece of fruit and a yogurt to snack on during the day.

If your room doesn't have a fridge, you can always request one and they might be able to bring one up to your room. Some places charge a fee, but most don't.

Do this right and you'll make a killing on per diem. Tax free, too! (And make sure you're signed up for all the various rewards programs. That stuff adds up. And if you hit elite status with some hotels you'll get freebies like concierge room access and whatnot.)

Thanks for the suggestions...great stuff for business travelers.  I'm a bit of a difficult case since I'm on the road full time - no home base to speak of - if it doesn't fit in my suitcase it isn't going to work for me. 

I'm also a bit of a travel hacker - I'm a points/miles nerd.  Learning how to leverage loyalty programs, credit cards, etc. has helped me travel and life a nomadic lifestyle.

highcountry

  • Guest
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2014, 04:33:56 PM »
Tim ferris had some interesting ideas on using hotel sinks to cook sous vide in his book The Four Hour Chef. I am skeptical of cooking in plastic bags, but you might want to check it out, and the book is amazing for any non cook who might be interested in learning to cook, and some who think they aren't.

I would consider whether you might have room for a single burner induction cooktop in your bags, which would open up the options substantially, though I'm sure the hotel wouldn't like it if they somehow knew.

Modified to add: don't know if this is helpful or not, but if space is at a premium, what about switching out your carry on for a good backpacking backpack that you check? More space, but still easy to carry. If you do this, get a cheep lightweight duffel that fits it, so the buckles and straps don't get destroyed by the conveyer belts.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 04:43:49 PM by learning »

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6644
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2014, 04:33:59 PM »
You can also get a small electric kettle to heat water - that may be better than the coffee maker for cooking.  We used it successfully on a couple of trips where we had a fridge and no microwave, for coffee, tea, oatmeal, noodles, soup.  Could probably hard boil eggs too.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10424
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2014, 04:36:18 PM »
What starbuck said. If at all possible, stay at the same hotel in each location and stay at the same chain. Once the hotel knows you, you will get automatic upgrades and/or free fridge/micros. Get to know the staff, particularly the management team. If you are allowed to make your own reservations, make them at the hotel. If you make them on line, tell them at checkout when your next trip is. That way they know exactly when you're coming back.  When you make their top 25 guest list, you'll be golden, which sounds difficult, but really isn't. I used Holiday Inn and Marriott. I always made sure to get gold level for each. Hit the top levels and it really pays off. Toward the end of my career, I found Holiday Inn Express best suited/located for my needs, so I used them exclusively. When I retired, I got an IHG Rewards Club Platinum card that guarantees continued Platinum status, which pays off every time I stay in a hotel.

I have a small "picnic pack" that I take everywhere. It has backpacking utensils (strong plastic with knives that both cut food and get through airport security), a small fabric tablecloth, condiments (salt, pepper, mayo, mustard, soy sauce packets, hot sauce and a couple of wet 'n dry wipes.) The condiments have never been called, but you are allowed to carry on a lunch, so I'd use that loophole if needed. There is also a backpacker's can opener that's tiny and is just two hinged pieces of metal. It's so small that I've never had trouble getting it through security, YMMV. I carry a corkscrew only when checking luggage, which is seldom. I carry an inexpensive one, so that if I forget and put it in my carry on, it's no great loss. My "picnic pack" is a small zippered bag which flattens out when empty, so it's an easy shape to stuff anywhere.

A couple of other hacks have worked well for me. Since you are allowed to bring a meal on board, I have a lunchbox sized cooler that I fill with food plus a frozen blue ice. For good measure, I toss in a box of prescription meds. If challenged, I say it needs to be kept cold until opened (which is true). Once I've eaten what I brought along, I use the cooler for resupply. If I were buying something, I'd look for an expandable insulated bag that folds flat. Keep it small, so it can reasonably be considered appropriate for a carry-on lunch. I also carry water bottles that flatten when emptied. REI sells them, but I got mine at the Dollar Store, which is another good resource if there's one near any of your travel sites.

If a microwave is not available, a small immersion heater is great for boiling water (REI sells or online). The coffee machine always tastes like coffee and who knows how often it's washed. Ugh. Scrub out the pot and use the immersion heater to have hot water that doesn't taste gross. REI is a great source for backpacking eats that travel well and add more variety to your menu.

That per diem money can really add up. Good for you for using it to your advantage! A little creativity now will really pay off in the long run.


chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3079
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
    • Years in the making, I created a journal!
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2014, 04:57:48 PM »
Eliza

Good luck, I have the same problem in my job when I travel some.  I'm so used to eating with customers or on business, when I do it myself its not as exciting.

The 2 for 1 meals are a good point and so is the oatmeal.  Dinner will be the challenge if you get sick of sandwiches.

Have you posed this question over on a place like Flyertalk?  That's where the most hard core business travelers seem to hang out.  I'm sure a few of them are real cheap.

No Name Guy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 450
  • Location: Western Washington
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2014, 06:05:50 PM »
Leveraging off what others have said on the in room coffee maker: 
Use that to heat water and to make instant rice or instant mashed potatoes.  Ditto the hot water to cook some veggies - cut them small and just pour over and let it sit for a while.  Add one roasted chicken from the Supermarket deli and there you go - chicken, rice / spuds and veggies.  Add salad in a bag to complete the fancy meal.  Those roasted chickens are $5-8 each and should yield 2-4 meals.  Zip lock bag the leftover pieces of chicken and keep in that collapsible cooler that you're going to get.  There you go - dinner for 4 nights for only a few dollars a serving.  Chicken is tasty hot or cold.  If you need to reheat, place the piece in a zip lock bag (freezer weight), squeeze out the air and seal, put in your bowl, pour hot water over - wait until warmed.

A standard way to cook for long distance hikers (e.g. those doing the entire PCT or AT) is to heat the water to boiling then add ingredients, and then turn off the stove to save fuel.  The residual heat does the trick.  Coffee is brewed at 195 to 205 degrees, so it's close enough to boiling that using the in room coffee maker should work fine to replicate the process.  Cover the bowl and wrap with a hotel towel to insulate the heat in.

There are collapsable plates / bowls (where the side crunch down so they're flat) available at REI type backpacking stores.  I've also see the origami type that fold up from a flat sheet of plastic.  Use these for eating off of and "cooking" the rice and veggies in.  They take up practically no space, especially the origami type.

A "P38" type can opener (Google it if you don't know what this is) might make it through security - check with the TSA first.  They're about 50 cents each, so even if you lose them, it's not a huge deal - stop in at the local REI, sporting goods store or army surplus type store to get one.  I've also asked at the front desk and have found that some hotels (lower mid price point) have can openers to lend.  That said, a lot of "ready to eat" meals in a can are now in pop tops.

A hiker option, although laden with salt, are the Knorr brand rice or pasta sides.  Cook as noted above using coffee pot heated water (e.g. pour hot water in, wait until cooked).  There's lots to choose from.  The Spanish Rice or Mexican Rice type make a great filling for soft taco's.  Slice on a bit of cheese, a wee bit of hot sauce and yum!  If you have to have meat, add a small pop top can of chicken to the mix.  Salad in a bag provides greens if you want to add that to your taco, plus makes a great salad.  :-)

Lunches:  Buy a loaf of fancy bread, some deli lunch meat, your salad in a bag for greens (and salad) and there's your core for lunch.  Add some fruit, chips, etc and you're set.  Store meat and salad in your soft side cooler.

Another choice that the GF and I use a lot when traveling is summer sausage, cheese and crackers.  Throw in some nuts, "baby" carrots, that salad in a bag again (and using our handy collapsible bowls) and we have a picnic lunch at the rest area.

Italian sandwiches:  Using the Italian dressing you're using with your salad in a bag, moisten some hoagie rolls, add slices of the summer sausage, slices of Mozzarella cheese, and greens and enjoy.  Some basil, which you can add to your salad as well, adds a nice kick to this one.

Note that summer sausage, dry Italian salami and cheeses harder than medium cheddar don't need refrigeration - enough salt combined with low moisture content retards bacterial growth.  They'll get a bit greasy if they get warm, but they won't be unsafe after several days.  When hiking, I bring these types of food to make sandwiches (on bagels) and just carry 'em in the pack.  I've been in the desert in 100 degree heat for 4-6 days and not had issues before.

flashpacker

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 100
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2014, 10:15:51 PM »
If you like Indian food and can figure out how to boil water, those Indian meals that you boil in the foil pouch are good. They also last a long time and pack small if you take them out of the cardboard and just write on the foil what they are. 

starbuck

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Small Town Connecticut
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2014, 05:32:46 AM »
Some other things to consider... Since you're on the road full-time, but in one area for a few weeks, what about stopping by a thrift store at the start of the trip and buying a small george foreman grill or rice cooker? Should be under $10 and would let you increase variety and keep you out of the restaurants. On your way out, you could redonate it and be on your merry way. Rinse, repeat.

Also, if there's no microwave in the room, sometimes there's one in the lobby. I think Marriotts have one in their 'snack shop' thing because they sell microwavable soups and stuff, and the one in the breakfast room might still be open after hours.

MoneyCat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1754
  • Location: New Jersey
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2014, 06:58:21 AM »
If your work sends you to conferences in cities with Total Rewards casinos, try joining the Social Reward program and saving up points for reward credits.  I earn about $10 in reward credits per week or so and spend very little time doing so.  This would provide you with free meals at the Total Rewards casinos.  It's nice when you have conferences in places like Vegas, AC, New Orleans, Biloxi, Chicago, Indiana, North Carolina, etc.

eliza

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2014, 04:31:04 PM »
I want to thank everyone for the fantastic ideas -- I've got a lot of good things to try as I continue on in this lifestyle.

@Moneycat - I like the idea of the Total Rewards thing - I'll definitely look into it.  I know I have some travel coming up to New Orleans.

And I can report my first success.  Instant oatmeal packet + hot water from coffee machine + 2 minutes = passable oatmeal.


Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6302
  • Location: BC
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2014, 06:03:58 PM »
I too am loving these ideas.  Iron quesedillas especially.  Also being more proactive about how I take or pack that first onboard lunch.  I do this (it does not count as carry-on) but think I will take reusable items to pack in.



A couple of more things I do..
1.  Oatmeal in yogurt, overnight or 1hr to sit.. No cook, yummy.  Yogurt does not need  refrigeration for a couple of days, and the meuseli style breakfast is great.  Toss on nuts, dried fruit or fresh berries.

2.  I take a few ziploc style sandwich bags and a couple cheap storage containers.  Stuffed with clothes,  the containers do not take up room, and they are bowls as well as storage for lunch. A bowl is so very helpful. It is my eating dish too.

3 on a recent trip I was near the company office, so I stuffed their fridge with frozen dinners and food  and worked late just to use the microwave.

4.  I buy muffin mix or cake mix and microwave for my own baked treats, using a paper cup or mug in the room.  Need to buy eggs and sometimes milk, but nice when you have a micro\fridge combo. So many posibilities.

5. I definitely end up with fruit, nuts, crackers, hard cheese, dry salami, tuna salad in a can, granola bars when there is no fridge or microwave.   I usually keep some of this in my bag so I am not looking for a place to eat on my first night.  A a woman, I don't like walking the new location alone until I can walk it in the daytime first.

 Trashcan cooler works for about 15 hrs before you need more ice.  I agree about hot water from coffee pot tasting like coffee.  I prefer to boil in a mug (or bowl!) for hot water.

I do want to try a small hot plate \pan combo in my bag and immersion heater if I have more 2week travel.  I would definitely need to check a bag, but could bring a kitchen knife then too.

RunHappy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 561
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2014, 06:18:12 PM »
I travel every week too.  One thing I do is go to the grocery store at the beginning of my stay and by a veggie or fruit tray.  Then I will snack on it through out the week.  I stock up on lots of fruits and veggies. I go to a restaurant every couple of days but mostly to relax and not be stuck in a hotel room.

FarmerPete

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 346
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2014, 10:39:23 AM »
I used to travel for work a lot, but I don't any longer.  Here's my advice.

1) Don't use the in-room coffee pot for anything...seriously, don't.  I often would unplug mine and stash it in a closet/cabinet.  They are never cleaned and are pretty disgusting.
2) Unless I am careless, I'm going to drive the extra few miles to get to a real grocery store.  Walgreens/CVS/7-Eleven are way overpriced.  Still better than the alternative.
3) If your room has a refrigerator, when you go to the grocery store, buy a roasted chicken or two.  $5 for fully cooked chicken will give enough meat for two good meals for even the most hungry.
4) Pack a plate, silverware, and a small travel bottle of dish soap.
5) If you can fit it in your luggage, get a $50 induction hot pad, a small pot, and a mixing spoon.  You can cook almost anything with this combo.  Soups, eggs, pasta, etc.  If your company pays for your travel expenses, bring a bigger bag and check it.  You're better off having them pay the $50 (I'm guessing this wouldn't apply to you since you probably get waived fees since you travel so much) and bringing more cooking stuff with you in your bag.
6) Fresh fruit and most veggies don't need refrigeration.
7) I try to stick with precooked meats.
8) If you do go out, look for any meals or options that might make a cheap meal for tomorrow.
9) If your hotel has a free breakfast and a refrigerator, don't be afraid of taking some of the food back to your room.  Even without a refrigerator, they normally stock bread, bagels, fruit, juice, etc.  Don't overdo it.  They offer this stuff every day so no reason to bring back more than you need to last till tomorrow.
10) Pace yourself.  Your goal should be to have no extra food when you leave.  Anything you bought that you can't take back with you is going to be lost $$$.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10424
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2014, 10:49:36 AM »
10) Pace yourself.  Your goal should be to have no extra food when you leave.  Anything you bought that you can't take back with you is going to be lost $$$.
This is especially good advice. If you can't eat everything, eat what won't pack easily. The rest can go home in your insulated lunch bag.

merula

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1239
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2014, 11:18:58 AM »
Can you request a fridge from the front desk for medical purposes? I've done this recently (breastfeeding and traveling for work), and no hotel has actually charged me the $10 or whatever fee when I say it's a medical purpose.

And your medical purpose is to stay healthy by eating well and reduce stress by attaining FI.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13746
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2014, 11:24:20 AM »
heh... can't testify to any of these but it sounds interesting
http://www.themarysue.com/coffee-maker-food/

I survived much of my university time by cooking with a coffee maker.  It works great, this is a serious option for food preperation.  Every hotel seems to have one.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2014, 11:38:54 AM »
How much lattitude are you given in selecting hotels? If so, any chance you can stay at hotels that offer a kitchenette? This will definitely help as you can get some groceries.

For my twice annual Vegas trip for work I usually stop a grocery store and get bread and peanut butter, this is my lunch for the week, each morning I make a few sandwiches for lunch (as opposed to paying $12 for stall food which is usually pretty bad). Also if you get a Blenderball, you can add a protein mix to it with water, this is a portable snack that can reduce the pull of fast food.

http://www.amazon.com/Sundesa-Blenderbottle-Blenderball-20oz-Black/dp/B008RAS2WS

be

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 59
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2014, 02:25:28 PM »
I've come out of lurkdom to add my 2 cents.  I would just add fruit leathers.  I look at the labels and try to only buy the ones that have ingredients I can pronounce and spell correctly.  (It's the spelling correctly part that really gets me.)  They're compact, and I figure they count towards my daily fruit consumption.

I'd also like to add beef jerky.  If I have to do carry on only, I'll use beef jerky as a protein source.  Peanut butter is considered a liquid - so no carry on.  Canned meats (think sardines or tuna) get really heavy in a carry on bag.  If I do check in a food luggage, I'll take canned meats and fruit that have pop top lids.  No can opener needed.

I take a hot water immersion heater and a 1 cup pyrex measuring cup with me.  Heating water in the hotel coffee maker freaks me out.  But if really necessary, I would certainly make and run hot water thru it several times before using.  The hot water immersion heater doesn't take very much space, but the 1 cup measuring cup does.  However I really do appreciate the easy to pour quality, and the fact that I can leave the heater in there safely while I get ready in the am.

In terms of carrying dish soap, I have to confess I've used hotel shampoo a time or two.  But to keep the washing down to a bare minimum, I try to use the hotel's disposable cups to eat my oatmeal in.  Also those soups in a cup -- the empty containers are useful.  Just have the soup for dinner, rinse out, save, and use for oatmeal in the am.  Only the spoon to wash.

I pack a foldable lunch box sized cooler for my daily lunch, and I also pack a foldable bigger one (think about the size of a brown paper bag from the grocery store.) 

I always call the hotels ahead to see about frig and microwave access and free breakfast access.  It helps to know when I'll be able to grab an extra apple or packaged instant oatmeal.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10424
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Cheap Meals - Living in Hotels
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2014, 11:18:08 PM »
be, I'm so proud of you! Coming into the fold at long last. Now you can hop on over to this thread and take the poll:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/poll-how-many-mustachians-do-you-know-personally/msg381444/#msg381444

P.S. The part about spelling the ingredients really cracked me up. Thanks for joining!
P.P.S. L, J & I ate fruit leathers for a late night snack just before I logged on and found your first post. Too funny!