If you eat regularly at restaurants in the US, you’re almost guaranteed to pack on weight and consume far too much fat and salt. As an alternative, I like to self-cater while traveling. However, I just stay in normal hotel rooms. Usually they only have a fridge but sometimes they have a microwave or there is one available in the lobby.
Here’s how I make it work.
Rule 1: 4 ingredients max.
At home you can buy a bunch of ingredients, fill up the fridge and know you’ll use everything within a week or so. When traveling I stick to only meals that I can make with 4 ingredients or less. Usually this means under $13 or so for the meal, even if I need to buy all 4 ingredients.
Rule 2: Ingredients that can do double duty.
For example, wraps can be used to make mexican inspired burritos or middle eastern style hummus wraps, or a bunch of other options. Buy ingredients you know you’ll be able to use in multiple different meals with different flavor profiles.
I love baked savory tofu. The flavor is just a hint of umami and saltiness. Therefore it will work with Italian, Mexican, anything you like.
You can also get precooked vacuum packed lentils in many supermarkets. These can be used to add protein to salads, sandwiches etc.
Rule 3: Two fat options.
Choose whether you want cheese, mayo, butter/marg, or avocado but not all of these. Make do with two. This will give you some versatility in your dishes without a lot of waste.
Rule 4: Instant oatmeal is your friend.
You can make instant oatmeal in a hotel room by using the coffee maker for hot water if your hotel’s lobby doesn’t have hot water/coffee available. Instant oatmeal will work for an early breakfast or late night snack.
If you have an early flight the next day, grab some oatmeal sachets and a banana from the hotel breakfast (skip the breakfast – it might be free but it’s not free in terms of unhealthiness).
Hotels often start breakfast too late for people who have morning flights.
Rule 5: Convenience doesn’t have to be frozen and microwavable.
– If you stick to the 4 ingredient rule, it’s just as easy to make your own burritos as it is to buy frozen.
– You can get prewashed greens for sandwiches and salads.
– Having a basket of fruit visible in your room will encourage you to eat it. They say “out of sight, out of mind” and of course the reverse is also true.