Updated November, 2017
Cooking While Traveling – Save Money and Experience Grocery Shopping
One of the best ways to keep family travel budgets in check is to cook your own meals. What parent hasn’t seen their travel money rapidly swallowed up by restaurant charges?
Equally of value is the cultural experience of shopping for groceries in a given country. In another post, I described grocery shopping in Tuscany, the rural areas of Florence, Italy, for example.
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Select a Hotel with Kitchen
A number of the hotels we list on Sleeps5 have kitchenettes that provide the rudimentary facilities necessary.
The first time we went to Florence this was the great cost saving plan I had in mind while staying at the Castello di Montegufoni. While the “apartementi” did not have ovens, each did have a cooktop with the basic pans, tableware and a small refrigerator.
We did find there was real cost saving to be had by cooking at least one or two meals at “home” a day. Breakfast and dinner were the most likely opportunities, but we often packed a lunch as well.
Bring Your Own Spices
One expense I did not account for was the cost of spices. Like many families, we have acquired spices over time in our kitchens at home, replacing them as need be. Purchasing these same items abroad is an expensive and redundant proposition, I discovered.
The first trip we made-do with just your basic pepper and salt, while also purchasing fresh garlic and basil. The next time around I purchased the Travel and Spice Kit by Grapevine Trading Company (the company no longer makes this product).
I’m not advocating ignoring the opportunity to purchase local specialty spices, but using a spice kit has repeatedly been a great resource for us.
A similar travel spice set to the one formerly made by Grapevine Trading Company can be purchased online at Amazon. Here are two examples of what you’ll find on Amazon:
The spice kits above have small amounts of spice blends. The Olivelle World Traveler Spice Collection Travel Spice Kit has 12 different blends from parts of the world, such as Jamaican Jerk, Mexican Adobo, Chinese 5 Spice, and BBQ dry rub.
The Organic Spice Seasoning Sampler Gift Set with 7 Salt Free Spice Blends has Chicago Steak, Garlic and Herb, Lemon Pepper, Tandoori, Taco, Thai, and Vindaloo Curry. Each one is sodium and salt free, and the package can be resealed with a zip lock.
Spice Set Becomes a Gift
Additionally, when our family traveled to Nicaragua, at one of our locations there was a cook provided as we were part of a large service mission trip. I sadly do not speak Spanish and the cook did not speak English, but nonetheless, cooking provided a communication bridge.
I made an apple pie in order to share some U.S. “culinary culture” and of course, I had my handy Travel Spice Kit. The cook motioned to my spices and so we opened them all up and she tried a little bit of each one to see how they tasted and so forth. I gave the Travel Spice Kit to her after that as a gift which appeared to be well received and appreciated.
Make a DIY Travel Spice Kit to Refill
The other handy thing is that all those cute little containers from a set can be refilled from home so that it is not necessary to constantly repurchase the kit.
Alternatively, you could create your own spice kit of cute containers! Or, use either those plastic pill boxes grandma and grandpa use for the seven days of the week, or visit your local storage store for other clever mini storage containers.
Some ideas for basic spices to fill in them are: cinnamon, kosher salt, chile flakes, mustard, Chinese 5 spice, French Herb Blend, Cajun Blend, BBQ blend, granulated garlic, curry, black pepper, lemon garlic blend, ginger, Mexican blend, and Italian herb blend.
Spice kit containers and cases for DIY – make your own travel spice kit are:
Happy Travels and Happy Eating,
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