Updated: Mar 25, 2018
Did you know you can make great meals using your hotel room kitchen? Even if you only have a microwave, water boiler or nothing, don't settle for a bag of chips. Read on to learn more!
Believe it, this delicious linguine, mussels and clams meal was prepped and cooked in our hotel room kitchen at Ramada Suites in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Okay, now what?
Okay, so you are staying in a hotel room that has a kitchen, great that's a HUGE head start! Hopefully you know your way around a kitchen and how to cook, but even if you have basic cooking skills, no problem I will show you how to use your brain and be creative. Now, on to the next step.
Start by taking inventory of what you already have. View of the kitchen in our hotel room at Almar Luxury LGBT Resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
You should start taking inventory of what kitchen features you have (i.e. do you have appliances?, do you have kitchen utensils?, do you have any oil, spices?) You get the idea.
Take note of what you have.
Knowing what you have helps you figure out:
What your cooking limitations are (what you can or can't cook)
What you need to buy to eat
If you have a well-stocked kitchen take advantage of it like how we did and made Vietnamese Canh Nui (Rice Macaroni Noodle) Soup at Barclay Suites in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Research the neighborhood you are in so you can eat what they eat
Okay, I understand that what you just read above might not jive with some of you because you just enjoy eating your own preferred diet and that's not a problem at all. If that's what makes you happy, I'll go with the flow too. Hungry Jack's it is!
Now for those of you who have an adventurous tongue, it's a good idea to research the neighborhood that you are in so you can eat what they eat. Good food just brings all people together.
We used local produce for hotel room kitchen lettuce-wrapped chicken tacos in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Digital Nomad Foodie)
Some of the best hotel room made meals were created using local ingredients, some examples were:
Avocados and beets in Mexico
Clams and mussels from New Zealand
Scampi in Australia
Dragonfruit, purple mangosteen and rambutan in Vietnam
Microwavable rice in South Korea (funny, but true)
Once you figure out your inventory and then researched what is locally available you can now head to the local grocery market, convenience store, fish market, etc...
Make sure you check out a grocery store, like this Super Food in Aruba to cook your hotel kitchen cooked meals. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Even with a small kitchen, I bought groceries at New World Supermarket and enjoyed an excellent steak dinner in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Grocery stores, convenience stores, fish markets, farmer's markets etc...
Depending on where you are, you'll want to check out the most convenient place that sells food and other groceries.
I always like to visit the grocery store because they usually have a greater selection of products and they are almost always cheaper than convenience stores. You always learn about different cultures when you go to a grocery store. I learned that New Zealanders don't refrigerate their eggs like American's do and they don't mind walking around barefoot in the grocery store.
If you are visiting a city with a fish market like Jungbu Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea, make sure you stop by! (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Fish markets, are always a good idea to check-out. You can't beat fresh seafood at a fish market!
RELATED POST: Review: The Bustling Sydney Fish Market
Farmer's markets are another great place to shop especially for fresh produce, oils, honey and other items. Always check to see if there is a farmer's market available and if they do, what day(s) they are open so you can check it out.
You can even catch and cook your next hotel room kitchen meal like these clams from Oreti Beach in Invercargill, New Zealand. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)
If you are smart you can even visit a beach, lake or river. Most recently during a stay in Invercargill, New Zealand the group of friends I was traveling stayed in a motel that had a very nice kitchen. We checked out Oreti Beach, which was very close by and to our surprise the tide was low and there hundreds of clams all over the beach.
We collected as many as we could, even though we didn't have any bags (I did think outside the box and used the plastic wrapping that seals a case of water) to hold as many clams as possible.
We took the clams back, washed them and had a fantastically cheap (FREE) meal!
Fair warning though, make sure to research if the food you catch in the wild is safe to eat.
Only have a microwave, water boiler or none of these? No problem
I saved the best for last just in case you don't have a kitchen. If you do have a microwave and/or water boiler you can still save money and cook in your hotel room.
You should still explore the city you are in and find out what we talked about above regarding the grocery stores, convenience stores, fish market's and natural resources.
Obviously ramen is a food that can be found almost anywhere. Why not jazz it up and make it taste better? Add some meat and veggies to it. Recently during a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland over Christmas, the entire town was almost closed on Christmas Day.
However, knowing that many Asian cultures are open on Christmas, my wife and I had discovered a small Vietnamese grocery store which was open. We stocked up on some instant pho and added Vietnamese meat balls for the perfect comfort food.
Remember think outside the box, use your brain and don't go hungry!
Put that water boiler to good use by boiling some scampi like these freshly bought ones from the Sydney Fish Market and jazz up that plain ramen. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
If you don't have a microwave or water boiler you can still be creative and not have to settle on a candy bar or salty chips to satisfy your hunger.
I once rented a flat in Seoul, South Korea using Airbnb. The location was very far from all the markets and the only place that sold food was a run-down convenience store. I was hungry and didn't feel like going into town to find food so I decided to walk to the convenience store.
I purchased some pre-cooked rice, canned luncheon meat, Korean seaweed snacks which I brought back to the flat and sloppily made Spam Musubi, which hit the spot!
Even if you don't have a kitchen, microwave or water boiler, you can still be creative and make Spam Musubi. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
I hope this blog post gives you some ideas on how to best use your hotel room kitchen to make cheap, healthy meals on your next business trip or vacation. Please share your comments below, I would love to hear the meals you were able to make!