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. A number of the hotels we recommend 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 they did have a cook top with your basic pans, tableware and small refrigerators. 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. One expense I did not account for was the cost of spices. Like many families we have acquired spices over time; 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 from a local store here in Seattle (Mrs. Cooks-University Village). It can also be purchased online at Amazon.com:
or at Amazon.co.uk:
The kit has a small but reasonable amount of fifteen basic spices, including: 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. I’m not advocating ignoring the opportunity to purchase local specialty spices, but this has repeatedly been a great resource for us.
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 none-the-less cooking provided a bridge. I made an apple pie in order to share some US “culinary culture” and of course 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. The other handy thing is that all those cute little containers can be refilled from home so that it is not necessary to constantly repurchase the kit.
This spice kit may only be available to our North American visitors–I did find an Indian spice gift set on on Amazon.uk. Alternatively you could create your own using either those plastic pill boxes grandma and grandpa us for the seven days of the week or visit your local storage store for other clever mini storage containers.
Alternative Amazon.co.uk ideas:
Alternative Amazon.com ideas:
Happy Travels and Happy Eating,