We recently got back from a family trip to Puerto Rico. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel with many amenities, but microwaves and kitchens were not one of them. Because of my son’s severe food allergies, he doesn’t eat in restaurants so cooking in our room was essential and much easier than I thought it would be. So I created this quick post about How to Cook in a Hotel Room.
I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read the labels on the food provided in Puerto Rico so I packed it all and brought it with me. Everything needed to cook and clean my son’s meals, including the food, fit into one large 50lb. suitcase, which cost us $25 to check each way through the airline we used. I intended on shopping for fresh fruit and veggies at the grocery store upon arrival, but it never happened because I had prepared enough food for the week. I’m sure I could have brought a slow-cooker, George foreman grill, toaster, or any other type of heating device, but a hotplate would do everything that I needed and was small and light to pack.
What to pack??
List of all the items that I brought for five days and four nights in that one suitcase:
- small fan (to vacuum the exhaust out the open door)
- extension cord (to allow the fan and hot plate to be located near the open door)
- 1 medium size pot w/ lid
- 1 kitchen towel
- 1 knife, fork, spoon, spatula, big spoon
- small medal bowl
- 2 square Tupperware containers, 1 screw top for liquids, 1 square
- spray air freshener
- sponge & small dish soap (I pro would have forgotten had Emily Wrann not suggested it)
- paper plates
- mason jar with lid (for mixing the egg replacer)
- 2 bags of uncooked pasta
- 2 boxes of cereal
- cranberry sauce (my son’s favorite)
- 2 1/2 gallon containers of Rice Milk, both half-full and frozen (keeps everything cold for the plane ride)
- 1 lb. bacon par-cooked (par-cooking decreases cooking time and SMELL when reheating in room.
- small package of breakfast sausage
- 1 loaf of bread (I carried that loaf on both flights because I didn’t want it to get crushed.)
- 1 package of allergy-free cheese
- 1 box of allergy-free granola bars
- 3 boxes of allergy-free cookies
- 1 can cooking spray
- 1 small container of pure maple syrup (both for pancakes and to use for his steroid medication for EoE)
- 1 box of shelf-stable coffee creamers (cuz I’m gonna need a whole lotta caffeine to get through the week)
- 4 home-made frozen meals (I’ll go into further detail about this below)
- canned peaches and mangoes
- fruit snack gummies
- pancake mix
- EnerG Egg Replacer
- 1 box crackers
- small jelly and SunButter-to-go
- nut-free trail mix
- home-made granola bars, cookies, and brownies
This does not include the two lunch boxes that we brought as carry-ons, which contained 1 complete breakfast, 1 complete lunch and enough snacks to feed an army! Having enough food in case any flights were delayed, cancelled, or luggage was lost was very important!
Each morning I heated four pieces of bacon or breakfast sausage and made three allergy-friendly pancakes. The smells were kept to a minimum thanks to the fan. I also provided at least two sides, which included fruit. We would carry these items to the dining room where my husband, oldest son, and myself would order our food and we would eat together.
Every lunch was eaten by the pool. What a tough life, I tell ya. Lunch would be something simple like SunButter and jelly crackers with two sides.
Now let’s get to the frozen dinners that I made, which was super easy! Two weeks prior to our vacation I started making dinners at home with the intent on using the leftovers to freeze for vacation. I knew they’d need to reheat well and not contain any previously frozen food, pasta, or cheese alternatives because they don’t freeze well. So I figured I could make a new batch of pasta in the room, set it aside in the medal bowl (keeps it warm), and reheat the frozen food to then mix with the pasta. Simple.
I made and froze ahead of time:
- Slow-Cooker Chicken and Tomato Sauce
- Chicken Marsala
- Crust-Free Chicken Pot Pie
- Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
We made reservations for dinner each night in one of the hotel restaurants and I would cook my son’s meals on the floor of our hotel room using the hot plate. I cooked near the open balcony door, with a fan pulling the exhaust out the window (the extension cord allowed me to do this). Placing towels under the door to prevent smells from entering the hallway and spray air freshener to mask the odors also worked like a charm. Why? Because I highly doubt the hotel staff wants people cooking on hot plates in the rooms. I’m not sure if it’s legal or not, but in our circumstance it was necessary. After every meal I made sure to unplug the hot plate and store it in a safe place while it cooled.
My son ate every single meal with a smile on his face and finished every dinner, with the exception of the Turkey Shepherd’s Pie, while mmmming at each bite. He LOVED it and he also showed his appreciation to me constantly. It’s nice to know that he realizes and appreciates the work that goes into keeping him safe.