Packing food to take to your hotel not only cuts down on travel expenses, it saves your kids from being subjected to the onslaught of fast food that families often consume while on vacation. For added convenience, some hotels include mini-refrigerators and microwaves in each room or available for rent. If you have space, pack some plastic utensils, paper plates and bowls.
Start off the day with a hearty breakfast. Pack plain bagels that your kids can top with jam or honey packets. Bake a host of mini-muffins before you depart on your vacation and store them in plastic storage bags or containers. You can also include a variety pack of cereals, the kind in small boxes; some companies even use boxes that double as bowls. Purchase an 8-ounce carton of milk from a nearby market or the hotel’s own convenience store. You can make instant oatmeal in the hotel microwave by simply adding water to the dry mix.
Lunch and Dinner
For a kid-friendly lunch, you can easily make sandwiches with just a loaf of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly. Ready-made tuna kits, featuring sealed pouches of tuna, mayonnaise and crackers, do not require refrigeration. Some soups come packaged in microwaveable bowls, including flavors like chicken noodle or split pea. Certain brands also sell microwaveable bowls of macaroni and cheese or spaghetti that require nothing more than added water. If your room does not have a microwave, you can use hot water from the coffeemaker found in most hotel rooms. For something more homemade, cook some spaghetti ahead of time at home and pack the pasta in a gallon-size storage bag. Bring a jar of spaghetti sauce and warm the two ingredients in the microwave.
Parents concerned with keeping their kids hydrated should pack plenty of juice boxes. Save on space by purchasing half-pint bottles of water. For added variety, include on-the-go punch mixes that you can easily store in your purse or backpack. When your kids get thirsty, just throw the mix into a bottle of water and shake for a punch concoction. Many hotel rooms provide plastic cups. You can also get ice from the front desk or in the hallway at some hotels.
Snacks offer the widest range of non-perishable options, including granola bars, raisins, pretzels, trail mix, fruit rolls and crackers with spreadable cheese or peanut butter. Consider small fruits that don’t take up much space, such as tangerines, apricots or plums. For rooms equipped with microwaves, take bags of microwave popcorn. Pack tubes of yogurt and individual gelatin or pudding packs if your room includes a mini-fridge. Reward your kids for good behavior with lollipops or bite-size candy bars.
by Jane Gosford