It is no secret that I enjoy the challenge of cooking while traveling. We save dollars and calories by opting for lodging equipped with a kitchen. This helps us feel our best when exploring new places and fuels our financial goals. During the pandemic we, like almost everyone else in the world, did not vacation much. But some travel was necessary due to our relocation.
During one of the winter months, while indoor dining was prohibited in our state, we stayed in a pet-friendly hotel with a kitchenette and free breakfast. I worked remotely from the hotel, which was close to Mr. Vine’s office. At the time, our new home was undergoing a major renovation and we needed temporary housing.
Because we drove, we had many more options to bring food and kitchen equipment with us to the hotel than when flying. We stayed for eight nights and I had a lot of fun creatively using items I bought from home with the hotel-provided breakfast to cover most of my meals for a week. At the time of this hotel stay, I was practicing intermittent fasting. My eating hours were noon-8pm. This posed an extra challenge because the hotel breakfast ended at 10 a.m. Our hotel kitchenette was equipped with a coffee pot, two electric burners, a full-sized fridge, microwave, toaster, and a small sink with disposal. In this article, I will share a sampling of items that I picked up from the hotel breakfast and used the groceries we brought from home.
What we brought from home (not all of these items were full packages)
- Wheat thins crackers
- Raw almonds
- A few single-serve jams (blackberry and apple butter)
- Jar of natural peanut butter
- Package of pre-cooked Mexican style pork
- Box of cereal
- Apple pie
- Nespresso machine and capsules
- 2 bottles of wine
- Dijon mustard
- 6 beers
- Cabbage salad with miso ginger dressing
- Romaine lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Ranch dressing
- Clementine oranges
- Queso fresco
- Greek yogurt
- Leftover Chinese takeout (about a half order of pepper steak)
On the evening we arrived, we ordered a pizza and drank about half of a bottle of wine, leaving a couple of pieces of leftover pizza. On the first morning, I started my day with an Americano from our Nespresso machine. The Nespresso machine was an upgrade to the room’s amenities (and is something I always look for in luxury hotels when we vacation). At 9:30 a.m., shortly before the end of the breakfast, I picked up some food from the hotel breakfast, including a coffee that I drank right away.
Hotel breakfast on Day 1:
- 2 packets of strawberry jam
- 2 hardboiled eggs
- 1 apple
- 2 cartons of milk
- 2 green tea bags
Shortly after noon, I ate the leftover Chinese takeout with a side of cabbage salad. I later used one carton of milk with cereal I brought from home. Later I sliced up the apple with the intent of having it as a snack, but it was mealy and not very good so I tossed it. I had a few almonds while brainstorming what to have instead. I sliced up the two hard boiled eggs and mixed with the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and a packet of black pepper from the room to make some egg salad. I ate this with some of the crackers. When Mr. Vine returned from his office around 5:30, he picked up a prepackaged happy hour snack of pita chips, hummus, baby carrots and olives and a couple of beers provided by the hotel. Later, I ate the last two slices of pizza and we finished off the bottle of wine.
Hotel breakfast on Day 2:
- 2 pieces of bread
- 2 hardboiled eggs
- 1 carton of milk
- 1 carton of orange juice
- 2 green tea bags
Around noon, I had cabbage salad and a BLT with the bread (which I toasted) using bacon, grape tomatoes sliced in half, lettuce and mayonnaise. I also made a latte using my Nespresso machine and steamed one carton of milk from the hotel breakfast. I had a yogurt parfait using greek yogurt, grape jelly, slivered almonds and honey (this was not very tasty and I would not recommend it). I also had a salad topped with bacon and grape tomatoes, dressed with Ranch. For dinner, we picked up sushi, some of which was leftover.
As the week progressed, I opted for more of the same items. Occasionally I would add granola bars as a portable and quick snack for days when I drove to our new house to monitor the renovation progress. The hot breakfast items varied. One day I picked up sausage and a cheese omelet, which I added to a toasted bagel for a delicious breakfast sandwich. The lattes, bagel breakfast sandwiches, egg salad and “BLT” salad (romaine, grape tomatoes and bacon dressed with Ranch) were my favorite discoveries.
When it was time to check out, I was sad to leave the small studio kitchenette and free breakfast! Even though the location was not glamorous and the trip was not a vacation, it provided a fun diversion. We were able to glow up a fairly standard hotel by bringing a few luxuries from home.
Do you look for kitchens when traveling? Have you ever hacked a hotel breakfast to provide a day’s worth of food? How has the pandemic changed your travel behavior? Let me know in the comments!