Hotel Cooking (or How to NOT Empty Your Wallet Eating Out)




I went to a hotel for a conference. Spurred by the fact that we had just eaten out and had no way to reheat the food (no microwave, stove, etc) I had this idea: how CAN you cook at a hotel room?

So in an effort to prove it could be done, and to avoid eating out, I tried to cook for my self in my room.

The goal of this instructable is to use ONLY things readily available in your everyday hotel, and provide a method to eat some sort of meal that costs less, and may actually resemble something healthy.

So let's get started shall we? I'll be cooking rice in this instructable, but remember, eggs, pancakes, and soups should be fairly easy as well!

*as a side note, please forgive the pictures, I wish I had brought my real camera, but all I had was a smart phone camera.  I tried to Photoshop the pictures a bit to make them presentable.

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Step 1: Prepping

You may DIE. Hot water is hot! Rice may cause choking hazards! Electricity is shocking! Something could explode! I'm not really sure how, but the sign is cool, and deserved inserting.

Now that we're passed that, be responsible, this is not a very stable setup. you should ALWAYS be watching the cooking process!

What we need:
-Clothes Iron
-pot/cooking implement
-source of water
-rice (or other ingredients depending on what you're cooking)
-A fork or stirring implement (more on this later)
-a stand or prop, I used the coffee pot

by the way, while you're reading, go ahead and get the hot water running, and your iron on the highest setting it has. That way it will be hot when you need it!

*well upon further review, it was brought to my attention that the Hot water may be a dirtier source than the cold water (rusty pipes/old equipment, etc). So use the cold water if you can. The hot will save some time, but you'll have to decide whether it's worth it or not.

Step 2: Heat Water

Now that your water out of the tap is hot, fill up your pot with as much as you feel like you'll require. Usually with rice it's about 2 cups water to 1 cup rice, or something like that. I know you don't have measuring cups, so just eyeball it.

Turn your iron upside down, heating element facing up. place your pot on top of the iron and find whatever will work best to prop the setup up. If you can't prop it up, just hold it. Or go order some $12 eggs from your room service catalog.

*as a side note, you can also use your coffee maker (rather than letting it sit there all by it's lonesome) to help with the hot water process.

Step 3: Add Rice

Now that we've got boiling water, go add some rice to the mix. It should now be something like 2 parts water and 1 part rice. Cover and let boil for a while. Coffee can be such a crutch sometimes...

Step 4: Stir Occasionally

Stir occasionally, this can be accomplished by just picking up the pot and swirling it around. However an implement is nice, if you have a local coffee shop, go borrow a spoon, fork, coffee stir (preferably the wooden ones) or, if worst comes to worst, makeshift one out of your coffee cups in the room.

Step 5: EAT

Now that it's done, or probably done, or you just couldn't wait any longer, serve! Once again those coffee cups come in handy!

Oh, and that stir you got? you'll want to use that for eating as well. Turns out trying to shake rice into your mouth isn't very productive.

Oh, and go clean your pot. don't leave it dirty. You can use your sink and those little washcloths to do the job.

*As a side note, let me anticipate a few comments:
-yes this is not the most stable setup and could be dangerous, perform at your own discretion. I did this to prove a theory to myself.
-yes you could just as easily bring a crock pot or rice cooker.
- Yes you'll need a pot. But if you're thinking ahead, you'd bring one now wouldn't you?

Step 6: Other Ideas

Now, If rice isn't your kind of food, here's some other ideas to look at!

1- quesadilla- It's a grilled tortilla shell filled with cheese. Yes, your pants ironing skills may come in handy! *note please do not use the bare iron on food. It's unsanitary, and you should at least return the iron in the shape you found it!
2- Grilled Cheese/sandwiches
3- Toast

What about food that's left over?

-use the fridge
-borrow a trash bag/bin (clean of course!) and fill it with ice. Store your food in a zip lock back and cover with ice.
- If it's winter, and it's cold outside (below 40 degrees! >40 degrees is NOT food safe!) store it in your car. Maybe in a bag so your car doesn't smell like... well like whatever you had

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    15 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great concept. Here are some things I can add from my own experience:

    1. For rice and other grains: Pack a cheap, lightweight, immersion coil with you (or use the room's coffee maker) ... and a thermos bottle. Boil the water, add the rice, veggies and/or meat and water to the thermos bottle, seal the bottle, lay it on its side, and let sit for awhile. You can prepare at night and let sit overnight for a hot breakfast or you can prepare in the morning and let sit all day for a hot dinner. The food slow cooks in the thermos. Search the web for "thermos cooking" for more such ideas.

    2. Don't use hot water from the tap. It's full of crud from the old hot water heaters it comes from and is sometimes dangerous.

    3. You can make grilled sandwiches on the clothes iron. Just cover with a piece of aluminum foil. (Save your aluminum sandwich wrapper from Wendy's or Arby's for this.) Make your sandwich. Press with the iron on both sides, one after the other.

    3 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting stuff! I didn't think about that for the hot water... hmm...

    Thermos cooking? sounds interesting! I'll have to make sure to check that one out! that sounds fairly useful actually.

    I'll try to add in your ideas, I forgot to add the grilled sandwich one in there!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    bruc33ef: I was going to mention that about the coffee pot. Seems silly to use the iron to make hot water, then prop up the handle with a device that was designed to make hot water.

    Then again, your rice might have a slight Folgers tinge to it.

    Google "Freezer Bag Cooking". It's very popular with hikers who want to just add hot water to something and have a hot delicious meal.

    Great recipes+stuff here:


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, you're right about the coffee maker. The solution is to swing the basket out of the way -- or yank it out -- and get the hot water straight from the heating element.

    I've used a hotel coffee maker to heat water for some ramen cups I brought with me. Some hotels are nice enough to have a small refrigerator/freezer for cold foods (fruit, sandwich meat, veggies), but for the ones that don't: put a bunch of ice in one of the trash bags, put your cold stuff in another trash bag and put that in the ice bag. Keep it in the tub in case it leaks and to easily change the ice out. Try to use bottled water, preferably, but if you can't let the water sit in a cup for a few hours so that the chlorine can evaporate out (at least I think thats what it does), that way it doesn't affect the flavor as much.
    If you don't feel like being MacGyver, bring some peanut butter and jelly and buy some bread when you get there. Or bring some tortillas since they don't get squashed like bread does in luggage (I learned the hard way).


    2 years ago

    I always keep aluminum foil, zip lock bags & small collapseable containers in my suit case. I put Left over chicken parm with 2 sm. Slices of Italian bread in the foil - wrapped it and put the iron on each side to heat for my husband. Next, I made a pouch with the foil & added gargle shrimp w/angle hair pasta. I left the iron on the foil pouch. We had another night of fantastic Italian food. While driving home the next day I took out the 2 small container that I had left over antipasto. When my husband pull over to refill the gas tank & use the rest room we parked & had the left over salad. This held us until we got home. Try it - a little unconventional but it saved us money & it worked. Happy eating.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow this is quite a clever one. I stayed at a hotel in Quebec just a few days ago and had to skip dinner for this reason. Now i know! Thanks again.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Good 'ible & great comments. I would add: given some aluminum foil to protect against spills, you can use the iron for a variety of foods (e.g. grilled cheese sandwich). The little one-cup-at-a-time coffeemakers most hotels have now are good for heating water for freezer-bag cooking as suggested above; a stock of quick-cook or instant oatmeal, grits, soup, etc. can save $$$$ in travel.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    if you frequent snack bars / fast food places, pick up a couple extra napkins and some eating ware, and stow this against evening needs.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    That actually is the conference title! haha

    sorry about the confusion!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    a small electric skillet packs easily and can cook everything from toast to soup, they even make 2cup size crockpots (available @ walgreens I think) now, but all that aside, this was a nicely done "ible"