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food ideas for staying in a motel with no microwave?

We will be traveling to a national park about 7 hours away from us and will be staying in a motel with no microwave. The eats in the area aren't that great and we want to watch our pennies. We are thinking about bringing along a hot plate and a pan/pot to heat up some food. Do you have any ideas for what we can bring along with us in a cooler to heat up from some meals? TIA!!

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  1. Do you have a cooler? If so, I would go somewhere like Trader Joes and stock up on pre-cooked foods. If you take the hot plate and a small fry pan, TJs has carne asads, carnitas, "just" chicken, "just" salmon, and bunches of vegetable and salad offerings as well as guacamole and hummus and great cheese selections. Pair it up with their flat bread, tortilla, pitas or bread and you will be a happy camper

    4 Replies
    1. re: janetms383

      how long are you there for? what about a slow cooker recipe?

      1. re: cleopatra999

        Yep...a crockpot would be great to bring along, I think!

        1. re: cleopatra999

          we'll be there for 3 days so not that long... i hadn't thought about a slow cooker... hmmm

          1. re: coffee_addict

            I left a beef stew cooking in a crock pot in a motel one cold February. It was great to come in after being out all day to a hot meal that just needed a good bread to make a feast.

      2. Sandwiches come to mind, of course. And as long as you have some sort of cooler/refrigeration, there are plenty of things normally served hot that can be equally satisfying when served cold, depending on your tastes, such as pizza, or fried chicken. Or something like soup or chili can be made in advance and reheated on a hot plate.

        1 Reply
        1. re: weem

          sandwiches made me think of a sandwich grill, or whatever those things are called where you put the sandwhich in and it toasts and heats up the middle?? yummmy.

        2. Crockpot stew or chili for one night.
          Skillet sauteed Pork Chops sauteed in OJ concentrate with Apples & diced Yams, the next night.
          Third night? A small pork butt crockpot cooked all day with a bottle of BBQ sauce and whole baby potatoes added.

          Bacon & Eggs or pancakes for breakfasts
          Sandwiches piled high for lunches.

          1. If you have a car, there are a couple of things that are very useful for foodies. Nowadays, they make tiny portable fridges that you can also plug into a car's "cigarette lighter" or whatever it is called now, and in a motel room. You can of course take a small microwave or toaster oven if you have one, and remember the hotplate is also useful for making coffee etc. The little fridges aren't very expensive.

              1. Will you have an iron? If so, you can make a grilled cheese and have it with a take-out salad. Will you have a coffee maker? They can make some decent ramen with a little creativity. British comedian George Egg makes quite a production with very little in the following video: http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/how-to-...

                1 Reply
                1. re: gilintx

                  Great video, gilintix! I have made beef stew in the crockpot in advance, stored it in the cooler and then heated it up on a hot plate a couple days later. I hate it when hotel rooms don't even have a mini fridge.

                2. i always cook oats in the hotel coffee pot when i am on the road. you can do it with plain water or make them coffee flavored. just put the oats in the pot, put the amount of water youd normally use in the container, and run the pot normally. Sometimes they need another minute or so to just sit in the pot with the "warm" function on, but its super easy and cheap! add coffee for the flavor or just use the plain water with not. can add whatever flavor enhancers your want either during or after cooking as usual.

                  1. I think you could do alot with an electric skillet.
                    Hot dogs
                    Steaks (plain, Swiss steak, flank for tacos or fajitas)
                    Toasted ham/cheese
                    etc, etc

                    1. With all the other appliances everyone is telling you to bring along, you might as well just bring along a microwave....

                      Of course, considering this is a three-year-old thread, I'm guessing they've found a solution by now.

                      But I love the idea of going on a road trip to a National Park, and loading up the car with an electric skillet, hot plate, Crock Pot, Iron, George Foreman Grill, Waffle-maker and Microwave.... I can just see the circuit breakers blowing and plunging the entire motel into darkness. I have been known to do this.

                      1. When we do similarly, I like foods with double-duty: to provide hand-helds to nibble in the car and on trails, and simple hearty meals at night. Pre-cook all foods at home, store in doubled ziplocs, parcel out as needed, and season at serving. Write up a tentative menu with your day trips in mind so you know how much to bring.

                        So here's some of what we do (not all on every trip, of course!):

                        Roast chicken, picked from the bone and stored plain in ziplocs -- good for sandwiches and wraps as chicken salad, chicken and cheese with arugula, sauced, etc. Can be heated and served with BBQ sauce at night with (pre-) boiled potatoes and spinach salad, rolls; or added to stew.

                        Soup/stew of choice, homemade and frozen, or even canned. Add home-cooked chicken, beef, etc., and spinach to plump up nutrition. Serve with (pre-cooked) potatoes/bread.

                        Hummus, homemade. Great for wraps with spinach, arugula, olives, red peppers; for dipping breads and veggies as appetizer.

                        Salmon, poached, steamed, grilled -- crumble into wraps with a lemony yogurt sauce for lunch; with lemon wedges, cold or warmed for dinner filet.

                        Slice carrots, celery, snap peas, and whole grape/cherry tomatoes -- available for hand-snacking and as an appetizer with hummus or lemon/yogurt dressing for dinner.

                        Spinach/arugula -- wash, dry, store in ziplocs on top of ice in cooler. Add to sandwiches, make salad, add to stews, wilt as side veg for dinner.

                        Corned beef -- I love any excuse to make a flat of this, and it goes well cold or warmed in sandwiches, main dish, or soup.

                        Boiled potatoes -- can be dinner side dish with a bit of butter/seasoning, or add yogurt and chopped celery and carrot for instant potato salad; also can add to stew.

                        Coleslaw -- prep raw cabbage and carrot for this at home, add dressing of choice before serving.

                        Red and green seedless grapes, pre-plucked from vines -- carry on hikes, for dessert, or with yogurt for breakfast. Also, strawberries (more delicate though) or apples, pre-sliced and then bagged.

                        Bagels, peanut butter, cheeses -- good for breakfast and takealong.

                        We often don't warm the foods for dinner, but if your family insists, the hot plate/pan will work fine. Hotels often ban these, so keep it out of sight after *thoroughly* cooling.

                        Don't forget:
                        Paper plates/bowls
                        Sharp knife, eating utensils
                        Seasonings (minimal)
                        Mayo if desired (I use yogurt) (I bring small 'use-up' size of any sauces)
                        Vinaigrette dressing if desired
                        BBQ sauce if desired
                        Plain yogurt for sauce or snack (add fruit for breakfast)
                        Cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, indiv-wrap string cheese)
                        Instant oatmeal
                        Breads (pita, wraps, rolls)
                        Roll of paper towels
                        Trash bags (tie off so the dinner trash is contained)

                        1. An electric kettle would be useful for coffee, tea and soups.

                          1. Never mind the microwave! Does the room come with a fridge? I read these ideas--crock pot, cheese sandwich on the iron--and all I can think about is cleanup without a full size sink, and a bill for damage to an iron. If it were me, I'd try to eat 2 meals out of my own food every day. Then eat out 1 meal per day. You might throw out the question about where to eat in the geographic forum on CH that is where you are going. You might get a good rec or two.

                            For the other meals, you can bring some precooked food in a food bag or cooler: hard boiled eggs, individually wrapped cheese snacks, granola bars, fruit, celery sticks in water-filled peanut butter jars, cherry tomatoes. But if you don't have access to a fridge, what you can bring along and keep, is very

                            I would definitely check to see if electric appliances are allowed in the rooms. I am guessing they are not. But maybe the place has barbeque pits and outdoor tables. Breakfast around a fire on a nippy morning would be very nice. On my camping forays, I found that bagels traveled well.

                            1. Can you just bring a little microwave? A quick glance at the Walmart website shows several small models for under $60. You would probably spend that much not electric skillets, etc. you could carry it in a little rolling suitcase with the rest of your canteen items.

                              1. We often bring cereal and the juice box size Parmelat (sp?) milk which doesn't need refridgeration. You can keep the milk on some ice so it tastes better. When my teen daughter went to NYC on the cheap I brought lots of stuff we don't usually have but that let us take care of hunger and save the $ for a nicer meal. We didn't have a cooler for the trip so I brought those little cups od apple sauce, same cups of peaches, etc which were goof on the cereal.