Family Travel Question:

Q | Our family will be staying in a hotel for a while. Do you have any easy dinner ideas?

We are a military family relocating to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It looks like we will be staying in a hotel for a while during the transition. Do you have any easy dinner ideas? -Traci, Oklahoma

A | Family cooking and hotels

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I’ll do my best to answer your question Traci although you haven’t indicated how long you may be staying in a hotel or what facilities you might have. I am guessing that you will probably have a small fridge and microwave and maybe a kitchenette with a cook top. Breakfast and lunch are easy to cater with cereal and sandwiches. Dinner is a more difficult task given limited facilities and space.

During our travels we have eaten many a meal in youth hostels, hotel kitchenettes, and via camp cooking on our small one burner camp stove. My boys have loved my one-pot “camp food” creations. Favorite dinners for my family and those that are easy to cook include any kind of pasta and sauce (that includes Asian sauces like sweet and sour) to serve with chicken and rice.

The bare essentials for cooking away from home include:

  • One medium sized non-stick saucepan with tight fitting lid
  • One strainer
  • One or two large plastic dishes that can be used to hold pasta/rice or used as a salad dish and can also be used in the microwave
  • A plastic bowl for each person that can be used for breakfast or dinner (not shallow bowls)
  • A set of cutlery for each person
  • A plastic plate for each person
  • One large plastic ladle type spoon for stirring
  • A sharp knife for cutting fruit, meat, and vegetables
  • A small chopping board
  • Two tea towels
  • One dish cloth and scrubber
  • A small bottle of dishwashing liquid
  • A rectangular plastic tub for washing up (optional, though we found it useful for storing items too)

We kept all these items in a collapsible plastic crate and made sure that everything stacked together neatly to reduce the amount of space. When cooking a hot dinner I would use the pot to boil rice or pasta first. When it was cooked I would place the pasta/rice into another container that could be covered with a plate or plastic wrap to keep it warm. Use the same pot to cook meat and then add sauce. Combine the everything and voila – easy dinner with little washing up. The one pot can even be used to cook sausages or hot dogs and kept keep warm on a covered plate while you cook instant mashed potatoes and use the microwave to cook some frozen vegetables. You can heat soup in the pot or canned beans/spaghetti and serve with rolls.

The large plastic dish can be used as a salad bowl as well. Don’t forget that kids love the most basic of dinners too so every now and then cook something simple like packet mac-n-cheese or scrambled eggs and make lunch a healthier affair with salad and meat sandwiches. During our travels we had limited access to refrigeration so we relied heavily on canned tuna, pasta, rice, bottled sauces, canned vegetables (especially corn and peas), canned soup, long-life milk, eggs, and cereals.

We had to buy fresh items and any items that required refrigeration frequently, which meant numerous trips to the supermarket. This obviously gets a little tiring so having a good supply of pantry items takes the pressure off shopping every day. A picnic rug is also a valuable addition to your supplies because if the weather is nice you can get out and enjoy a picnic dinner of sliced meat, cheese, and rolls when you start to go stir crazy in your hotel room! Good luck with your move and your cooking adventure ahead.

2 Responses

  1. Eileen gunn says:

    We make omelettes or italian “fritatas” when we’re cooking on the road. It’s another one-pot meal and a good way to use up odds and ends of chicke, sausage, veggies, cheese, etc.

    We also rely a lot on rotisserie chickens from the supermarket. you can serve it as is with some rice, salad, potatoes, pasta that you cook. Or stretch it over a few meals by taking the chicken apart and using the pieces in sandwiches, wraps, fajitas, burritos, tomato sauce, quick soups like tortila soup (chicken broth, tortilla chips, avocado, scallions, voila!), jarred curry sauce or to supplement canned soup (like tomato).

    if she has some storage she can look for one of those stores where you can go in and cook a bunch of meals for your family all at once and then take them home to reheat. but you need a good size fridge if not a freezer.