Has anyone else noticed the increasing number of mini fridges found in motels and hotels these days? The mini-bar seems to be disappearing, in most places, in favour of room service, vending machines and electricity savings.
I remember as a kid staring longingly at the chips and candy sitting in the mini bar or on the shelf next to it. My parents always told me I couldn’t have any candy and especially not the mini-bar candy. I knew it was expensive, but assuming it’s flat line inflation, when I see the prices as an adult, I have a heart attack. $6 mini pringles? PASS.
Anyway, I am getting a little bit sidetracked. Frequently now, there are fridges in the motels and hotels that I find to stay in. These are a traveler’s dream. They are also fantastic for folks who have allergies, like my spouse. Breakfast is a particularly challenging one for us, and is also usually a big budget buster when it comes to travel.
In comes the mini-fridge! That little e-vampire and electricity bill inflator is your friend on the road, if not in your own home. I have one at home that holds club soda and beer, but 1) I don’t have to pay my electrical usage and 2) it would cost me something like $50 a year in electricity. I like beer enough to pay that, if I need to in the future.
You can buy yourself a tiny little carton of milk and take coffee to go from your hotel room, without filling it with that questionable white powdered substance. Free coffee versus $1.50-$2 out. Win.
You can buy yourself a package of wraps, a thing of mustard, a tomato or two, a red pepper, some pre-sliced cheese and some lunch meat. Wraps travel well with a ziplock bag. Buying a wrap out is probably $6-8. Win.
You can take leftovers with you from home and keep them in the fridge. If you’re lucky, you can heat them up in the microwave. Buying a cheap dinner out is probably $10-15. Win.
You can buy yourself a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer. Alcohol is often marked up three times in restaurants and bars. Save yourself $10 or more and have enough for two people to drink. Win.
You can buy yourself yogurt and some blueberries or strawberries, to eat for breakfast. Breakfast out, if you’re not buying a sodium laden breakfast sandwich, is generally $8-15. Win.
You can buy yourself a carton of eggs, if you have a microwave, and microwave them for breakfast. Toss in a diced tomato or a scoop of salsa, or put them on a piece of bread or in a wrap. Another $8-15 savings, plus it’s probably better for your body than what you would have ordered at a restaurant. Win.
You can bring home your restaurant leftovers from the times you do go out, and then eat them the next day. Win.
If you are going away for the weekend and manage to go from eating six meals out down to two, you can very easily save yourself $50 per person, or more, depending on your usual restaurant habits. That number is assuming you can save $5 on breakfast twice, $15 on lunch once and $25 on dinner and drinks once. That’s assuming there’s groceries to be paid for, as well. If I can save $100 on a road trip weekend, it makes it a lot easier to turn around and go somewhere else for another weekend, which I am all for! Cutting back on the meals out that I don’t really appreciate, like breakfast (brunch is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT), means I can do more of what I want to do. My goal is to travel more, I’m using my money, and mini-fridges, to propel me there.
What are your go-to on-the-road meals?