Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Have you thought about doing this in a hotel?

Goodbye home, see you in 3 days
While going along with my husband on a work training trip, there's no way i'm letting go of the budget just because we're over 200 miles away from home and my kitchen. So, a week before I knew we were leaving, I started purchasing everything I needed to bring prepped meals along with us.
It sounds like a hassle, but trust me, wasting your money, gas driving to get to restaurants & the down time you could have reserved if you stayed in & ate - that to me sounds like a hassle!

So here's what I did:

My first stop, was at the local warehouse store, where I purchased a 5 lb package of ground turkey for 5.99 - it's a great deal, and even though I didn't need that much for this trip, I purchased it, because you can hardly beat less than 1.20 a lb! So I broke down the package, and carefully froze it into 5 parts, but kept one out to make: Dinner 1.

My second stop, was to the local market to pick up small things that are in the meals below.

Dinner Night 1: Stuffed  Romano & Parm Meatballs, Whole Wheat Penne & Basil Marinara Sauce - for less than 3 dollars. I've heard rants on cooking shows, complaints from people I know & just know there's a general 'meh' about using ground turkey as a substitute, but if you do it right, you're going to hardly tell the difference that you substituted a far healthier meat. It really pays off. Not only is ground turkey very lean, it is much cheaper than ground beef! I add 1 lb of meatballs, throw in 1/2 a cup of chopped onions for moisture, 1 egg, 1/4 of a cup of bread crumbs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, some freshly chopped herbs (anything that's in the fridge!) and some garlic - roll into a ball, push a cavern in with my thumb, fill with cheese (I choose a mix of Romano & Parm that costs 2.25 - I only use 3/4 of the container here), then close the cavern with the top of the meatball. I chose to bake, but a lot of times grill over the stove with some olive oil. Your choice. So once I finished the meatballs, I boiled the pasta, then packed those two together in a glass pyrex once they were done, and put a jar of premade basil marinara sauce (1.50)  in the cooler. Dinner for night 1 - 3.00

Dinner Night 2: Stuffed Cabbage. This is kind of my favorite food in the whole world right now. A chef I really admire inspired me, by a super fancy recipe of hers, but I omitted over half the ingredients and came up with something my husband & I really like. You should really try it and not be like how I was at first, I was scared when I saw stuffed cabbage. It sure sounds complicated, but it's a 2 out of 10 for how easy it is. Essentially you're boiling the whole head of cabbage, removing the leaves, and with a few simple folds after you place a yummy meaty, saucy & rice-y mixture in, baking, for over an hour - and it's incredible. I'll give out my recipe for anyone who wants it - or you could simply look up a few on the internet based on your taste preferences. On St. Patty's Day, cabbage was .19 a lb, making a huge head under a buck - and this is what I used, but normally a nice sized cabbage is right over 2 dollars. Brown rice? We all know how cheap that is. Then, I used one of those sectioned off lbs of turkey I was telling you about earlier, also. The dish, is right under 3.75 for ingredients when you purchase in bulk & split up. It's a crazy cheap, & delicious meal to make.

Lunches - too simple to waste 10 bucks for two of us to eat at a sub shop. I made a loaf of bread (under 1 dollar) cooked up chicken thighs I had here at home for the meat to put inside, and grabbed a head of lettuce for 1 dollar. Mustard, was in our fridge so we packed that too. I went out & purchased smoked gouda slices, which was the most expensive thing, but absolutely the most delicious. We had these sandwiches all 3 days with sides of carrots & celery with almond butter, fruit slices, seaweed snacks, all kinds of things to have variations. So for 3 days of eating lunch, we spent a whopping 5 bucks.

Breakfast - came with our room, but if it didn't, I personally would search for somewhere that offers complimentary breakfast. So many places do, so it would be really worth it to see if there's somewhere just as close, to knock off a potential 60 dollar bill from breakfast for 3 - 4 mornings. If not, pack your own bagels & cream cheese (2  - 3 dollars), cereal & milk (2 - 3 dollars) oh you name it!

Ice: I started cranking it fout days before to avoid paying. 2.00, is still a loss if it's something I could have done. When the ice starts melting, we drain it, and re-fill with the ice machine that is on the level of every hotel room.
Cooler: We borrowed from a friend. If you don't have a cooler, I am sure you have a friend who has a cooler.
Packing ware: I chose glass & plastic - only placing what needed to be refrigerated in the cooler, & what didn't need to be kept cool, in a separate bag.
Utencils, Plates, etc.: Make a list from all the meals you prepared - pack them in a bag, and toss them in the car. See you guys soon! - BCB


  1. Always look forward to your tips!

  2. Thank you for commenting on my faith blog! I just read your posts and I need some of your organization and determination to do this for my family when we travel. Bravo!

  3. Very funny and creative. Never in a million years would I have considered this an option!