Friday, July 6, 2012

Thrifty eating on the road

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, and we got a room at the Candlewood Suites. (No, they did not pay me to write this!) Pretty much every chain of hotels has a suite line, which is not terribly fancy, but they include kitchens, so you can save on your travel expenses by doing some cooking rather than eating out.

Candlewood rooms have a full-sized refrigerator, two-burner stove, microwave oven, pots, pans, dishes, glasses, mugs, and silverware, as well as mixing bowls! They even had a grill outside on a very nice covered deck. We ate breakfast and dinner in our room, and we had lunch at the fairgrounds because it didn't make sense to drive back to the hotel to cook. We took one picnic-sized cooler with us, and it contained our homemade yogurt, homegrown eggs and hamburger meat, salad dressing, and other things that needed to stay cold.

Breakfasts on the first and third morning was yogurt and our homemade granola. On the second morning, we had scrambled eggs and flatbread, which is shown cooking in the photo. I mixed up the bread dough the night before, and we had garlic flatbread to go with our salad and spaghetti for dinner. The flatbread dough was stored in the refrigerator, and we used the last of it to make flatbread buns for our hamburgers, which we had for dinner on the second night, along with more salad. (Recipes for the granola and flatbread are in EcoThrifty, which will be published in September.)

It was incredibly easy and even fun to cook while we were staying at the hotel. My only complaint is that the dishwasher was insanely loud! The first night we started it when we went to bed, and that was a mistake. I had no idea just how important "sound insulation" can be in a dishwasher. I remember when we bought our last one, the manufacturer made a big deal out of it, and now I can see why. I guess it has been awhile since I owned a dishwasher without sound insulation. Anyway, after the first night, we made sure to turn on the dishwasher as we were leaving the room for the day.

Now I'm excited about trying other "suite" hotels, such as TownePlace and Homewood Suites. What are some of your strategies for saving money when traveling this summer?


  1. Camping! We're staying in KOAs, which have great rates, plus they include breakfast. We tent, but we get the sites with electricity and we have an electric picnic cooler. That saves money on buying ice, and dealing with wasted food that didn't stay cold, or got soaked when the ice melted. The cooler also plugs into the cigarette lighter in the car. Super handy! I can't rave enough about an electric cooler over the traditional kind.

  2. Hi just a quick question about the fair...We are looking into energizing our barn with solar power. Were there any vendors that come to mind? Thanks.

  3. We camp too, usually in state parks, which often don't have hook-ups available, but a good cooler with an insulated cover over it will keep things cold, even frozen for days without needing to replenish the ice.


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