Don’t let vacation meal planning put a strain on your wallet or add unnecessary stress to your travel plans. As long as your home away from home is equipped with a mini- or full-size refrigerator, a microwave and a sink, there are plenty of easy meals to make on vacation.
Use these tips to make the most of your minimalist hotel kitchen — and your budget — without sacrificing flavor.
Easy Vacation Meal Planning Tips for Hotel Room Cooking
1. Invest in Stock.
Microwave cooking can leave food dehydrated. Keep a carton of ready-to-use chicken or vegetable stock on hand to lend moisture and flavor to your meals. Add a splash before zapping restaurant leftovers or prepared foods, or use it to cook something from scratch, like a simple risotto.
2. Put a Lid on It.
You can never have too many reusable, microwave-safe food containers — even on vacation — so put these on the top of your grocery list to pick up upon arrival. They’re great for shaking up salads, portioning out snacks, reheating takeout and cooking mess-free microwave meals. Look for 2-cup containers with volume indicator lines to double as makeshift measuring cups.
3. Become a Seasoned Traveler.
Easy vacation meals don’t have to be bland. Look for shortcuts like pre-minced garlic and grated cheese to add flavor to your microwave creations. Many supermarkets sell affordable, high-quality salt and pepper with grinders built into their packaging — but you can also pick up free packets from the grocery store’s eat-in area or a rest stop. Look for blends of herbs and spices commonly used together, rather than shelling out for individual ingredients. And don’t forget to ask your hotel if it provides condiments like hot sauce and ketchup.
Once you have these pantry staples, it’s easy to create tasty vacation food that won’t break the bank. Try this single-serving microwave risotto, which is creamy, decadent and worthy of a night in.
Easy Travel Meal Recipe: Microwave Risotto with Tender Pea Shoots
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic from a jar
½ cup arborio or carnaroli rice
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2-3 tablespoons pea shoots, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
Grated parmesan cheese
Microwave-safe mug or reusable food container
Small saucer, plastic wrap or lid (optional)
Hand towel or oven mitt