| |

25 Popular Hotel Food Ideas To Save You Money

Share to...

25 popular hotel food ideas to save you money


Why would you want to grocery shop when you stay in a hotel?

Many reasons actually so I thought it would be a great idea to come up with a list of hotel food ideas to help cut costs.

One thing you will learn quickly is that food and drink cost megabucks when staying at a hotel.

On the other hand, the hotel you stay at might have no amenities to offer you apart from a complimentary cup of coffee.

Whether you stay in a 5-Star hotel or a budget hotel they both come with pros and cons one being the quality and price.

You might think that making meals in your hotel room is a waste of time especially if you are on holiday but what if you’re not?

Some people have temporary stays for weeks and months at a time in a hotel for various reasons.

Maybe you have one week left of University and your room rental expired.

Instead of driving back and forth every day as it would take hours you decide to rent a hotel room for the week.

Hotels are filled with people who need a place to lay their head at night

It’s not always about fun when staying in a hotel but either way you have to eat or at least should eat.

Coming up with food ideas that you can make in the hotel room rather than ordering room service or visiting the hotel restaurant takes some smart planning.

If you have kids in tow finding foods you can prepare and eat for cheap in your hotel room might be easier than slipping out to eat especially if you have no vehicle.

Just because I said cheap doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the healthy foods.

I’m comparing grocery food vs. hotel food so anything is cheaper.

Even if you go to the local grocery store wherever you are staying and load up on fresh gourmet meals you will still save more money than had you eaten out. Plus…no tip.

Every Hotel You Visit Will Be Different

Depending on the hotel you stay at you may be offered breakfast, lunch or dinner as a courtesy.

You may even get your paid hotel food at a discounted rate if you stay with the hotel.

Other hotels have nothing but a small kitchenette possibly with a toaster, kettle and mini-fridge.

Perhaps you may find you have nothing at all but a coffee pot on a table with instant coffee and tea bags.

It’s the worst coffee and tea in the world but when you’re desperate it tastes like the best you’ve ever had. Ha!

If the room doesn’t offer a glistening toaster ask if there is one available for use in the hotel food area for guests.

You do get what you pay for when you stay at a hotel so don’t rent a room with high expectations especially if it’s called Dodgy Hotel.

In a ritzy hotel, you may plan to dine on the club floor included with your gold package stay or use your credit card rewards points.

Related: 10 Smart Ways To Save Money On Travel Food

Even in a cheap hotel, you might have to pay to have room service if it is available at all.

A cheap hotel is anything under $100 a night without last-minute deals, discounts, etc.

Their continental breakfast might consist of horrible black coffee and packaged muffins to go.

Last-minute hotel deals

high rise hotel

If you’re a frugal hotel shopper and get find a last-minute hotel deal you may get lucky and score the 5-Star perks with 2-Star pricing.

That’s my kind of deal but you have to be ready for them as they go fast from sites such as Travelocity.ca (not affiliate).

Any time you are searching for a hotel to stay in always read hotel reviews so you can decide whether you want to book or not.

You’ll get a better sense of how you will be treated as a customer and what their stay was like.

How To Prepare For Your Hotel Stay

hotel food

If you have any hotels nearby where you live don’t be shy to pop in and ask the hotel manager if you could have a small tour around.

This is a great time to ask questions and for tips on renting a hotel room and hotel food ideas.

Every hotel is different so the answers aren’t going to be standard across the board but you’ll get a sense of how a hotel works just by visiting and doing your research.

Make your way into three types of hotels so you get a good idea of what you are looking for.

Depending on where you are travelling you can also see if the hotel offers a virtual tour online that you can check out ahead of time.

In the mean-time I’d pass by a;

  • 5-Star hotel
  • Quality hotel
  • Budget hotel
  • Motel

Each one of these types of accommodations come with different price tags, hotel design and layout, and options.

Don’t forget to ask about the high season and the best rooms in-house along with what’s all included.

If you’re visiting the area to go to a hospital or it’s a family emergency at a hospital ask about a hospital rate.

Also, don’t be shy to ask if the room has a refrigerator and freezer along with the size.

This will help you determine how much food you can bring from home.

Find out what will cost you extra, mainly food and drink is what I’d be worried about.

Whatever you do don’t bring your own kitchen appliances unless you are permitted to.

That means no rice-cooker, crock-pot or other appliances that weren’t furnished by the hotel for cooking purposes.

There will be a fire code in place and you don’t want to find out the hard way that you shouldn’t have done that.

If you get the appliance thumbs up by the hotel manager pack up your slow-cooker, instant-pot, rice cooker and toaster all of which would bring you huge savings for your hotel food budget.

Food News: If you can bake a cake with a light-bulb you can cook a meal in a rice cooker.

You can prepare lots of food cooking in a rice-cooker from boiling to heating up food.

The rice cooker is comparable to a small pot with an element that you can steam, boil or even fry food in. Ah ha, smart thinking.

Generally, when we use our slow cooker we make rice and toss in other bits on top and it all cooks together.

The Budget Motel Stay

dodgy motel

I remember our trip to Tobermory and we stayed in a budget motel with an empty mini-fridge, 2-cup coffee pot and access to a rusty barbeque if needed.

Oh, if we needed a microwave that was outside on a table by the front office.

Ya, it was a cheap motel but the room was clean and there was no food included, not even breakfast.

Again, you get what you pay for.

First, we didn’t plan the motel stay so that was our first mistake and brought no hotel food snacks with us.

Second, we should have paid the extra money to stay in a hotel up the road if we wanted at least a 3 or 4-Star stay with hotel breakfast.

When Mrs. CBB and I made a trip to Niagara Falls we enjoyed our upgraded suite for free with a Jacuzzi and kitchenette that we didn’t use as I was ill.

While I was in bed Mrs. CBB went ahead and had a look around the hotel restaurants and decided to have a drink at the bar.

Not only did her drink cost her well over $10 but she left a tip because the place was pretty dead and the bartender was super friendly.

She decided to order food from the restaurant since I was sick and she told me that I didn’t want to see the bill.

That only means that we could have purchased a weeks worth of groceries but we were enjoying our one day stay.

Could we have avoided going to Subway for lunch at $25 or buying snacks and appetizers at Casino Niagara?

Sure if you want to cut your hotel food costs and stick to a travel budget you have to plan for it.

When you’re out to eat opt for the cheaper menu items if you plan to go back to your room to eat hotel food you brought with you.

Hotel Drinks In The Mini-Bar

Two words, Stay Away.

If you want to pay premium prices for the minibar then be my guest but you’re better off going to the liquor store and stocking up to bring to your hotel room.

One bottle of sparkling Perrier water was $6 and there were 3 bottles on the counter. NOPE.

While you’re out buying booze don’t forget to buy your pop, juice and any other necessities such as cups and utensils.

Hotel Snack Machine

Coke and Sprite Vending Machine

Every time you go to the front desk or even down the hallway on your hotel floor there probably is an ice-machine and a snack vending machine.

This machine is a gold mine to the hotel because for many customers who don’t plan and bring snacks the snack machine gets attacked.

You will pay a higher price for your snacks from the machine likely 2 to 3 times higher than what you’d pay at the grocery store or convenience store.

Bring along chips, crackers and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, fruits, nuts and dried fruit, popcorn, etc.

A huge savings on snacks will go along way for your hotel food budget.

Bed and Breakfast or Airbnb

hotel room

Even if you splurge on a lovely bed and breakfast stay you only get the bed and a homemade breakfast in the morning.

If you get lucky you’ll find a bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner which will cover all of your bases however if you are travelling the last thing you will want to do is keep trekking back to your hotel or bed and breakfast for mealtime.

It’s different if you are on a resort but not when you are planning a holiday with accommodations.

Airbnb accommodations are also a great alternative where you have to purchase groceries to cook saving you money.

Typically your Airbnb will come fully stocked with a kitchen and all appliances.

Related: Airbnb is a homeowners gold-mine or potential disaster zone

Hotel Food Ideas

hotel and restaurant

If the hotel you choose to stay at doesn’t offer you any food past breakfast but you don’t want to spend money eating out every night for dinner there are foods you can bring and eat in your room.

Everyone likes different foods but for the person who loves to eat everything this list of 10 hotel foods you can fix in your room are worth noting.

Fill a cooler with ice and stock up on beverages and any other foods you want to keep on ice if there is no freezer or refrigerator in your hotel room.

Even if you plan to eat out one meal every day of your stay see if you can find local restaurants offering deals or those that have coupons you can use.

Personally, I would plan to eat out and a bigger meal at lunch as it’s cheaper than dinner.


Below are all or many hotel food ideas we’ve used in the past to help us save money on our travelling budget.

Hotel Food Beverage Ideas

Do yourself a favour and pack a beverage cooler with ice any time you are on a road trip or staying in a hotel or motel.

The savings alone are huge as sellers will mark up these products by 200% or more.

Some examples of beverages to bring to your Hotel stay would be:

Oh, and another hot hotel tip is to bring your own mugs and sweetener if you don’t use sugar which is typically provided.

Most often they have free small paper cups but if you have a favourite mug that you can bring along with you that will work better.

Last week we brought Keto BOMB Coffee Whitener or buy creamer that you can store in the refrigerator.

We have in the past brought silverware but if you call down to the front desk they should bring you some unless you are in a motel.

Hotel Food Condiments Ideas


Whatever you can’t get from the front desk or kitchen. (Ask ahead of time if they have condiments such as jam, salt, pepper, creamers, sweetener, ketchup, mustard, mayo etc.

Pack your condiments in reusable plastic containers or in ziploc bags so they can lay flat in your cooler.

If you plan to pack bread, muffins, burgers, hotdogs, bagels, coffee etc, bring condiments so you don’t have bland and boring food.

Hotel Food and Snack Ideas To Pack

hardboiled eggs deviled eggs

  • Instant Oatmeal/Cereal/Granola Bars
  • Homemade muffins, squares, and cookies
  • Deli Meat, Cheese, bread, butter
  • Veggie bags with cut vegetables
  • Fruits of all descriptions
  • Eggs if there is a microwave or pre-make Egg and Ham Breakfast Cups, Egg Pasta Frittata, Crustless Quiche
  • Pre-cook bacon and other meats at home and put in a container to re-heat
  • Snacks- Chips, Pretzels, Healthy Chips (kale chips), Dried seaweed, Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Gold Fish, Crackers, Cheese Strings, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Pepperettes, Beef Jerky.
  • Ramen Noodles – use the coffee pot to drip a pot of water for your noodles and instant oatmeal or use the microwave. (bring bowls or cups)
  • Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes for the microwave with butter
  • Hotdogs or pre-cooked sausages (you could probably sling a few in the coffee pot add water and let them heat in the pot or microwave if available. Use your slow cooker or rice cooker if allowed.
  • If there is a BBQ you can bring corn on the cob to roast and any other vegetables that you can wash and peel in the room.
  • Angel Hair or Spaghettini pasta to cook in microwave (if you plan to use a microwave to cook or a BBQ pack your own bowls and utensils to use as well). Go for single-use disposable cutlery so you don’t have to wash dishes if you can.
  • Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, cabbage slaw is great in a cooler with ice.
  • Make-Ahead meals at home that were frozen and need to be microwaved- Meatballs, casseroles, lasagna, pizza having a hotel fridge is ideal with these foods. One of my favorites is my pasta frittata with sausage which is an all-in-one meal that you can eat hot or cold. You get your pasta, eggs, sausage, and cheese.
  • Boxed Kraft Dinner or other Mac n Cheese made in the coffee pot or kitchen (If applicable)
  • Cream Cheese and Bagels
  • Potato Tortilla, Fried chicken, Chicken Wings or other foods that you can eat cold or at room temperature.
  • Pack tortilla wraps and stuff them with just about anything (sometimes I just eat them as they are)
  • Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store
  • Pre-made Hard-boiled eggs or eggs you can microwave if available. You can also make Scotch Eggs to eat cold or warm-up.
  • Cans of tuna (and a can opener)
  • Canned foods that you don’t need to heat or that you can heat if there is a microwave or BBQ available on site.

Spanish Tortilla Recipe

Keto Snack Ideas and Keto Food To Pack For A Hotel Stay

the ultimate baked pepperoni chips keto 1

I have so many Keto recipes on the blog that you can sift through for the best keto snacks and food to bring on the road with you to your hotel.

Just keep in mind that if you can eat it cold it’s better as it’s quicker and you can take it with you when you leave the hotel room as you venture out for the day.

Packing a simple keto lunch is simple as long as you plan ahead.

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings-4

The best thing is you won’t have to worry whether you will find keto food where you are staying and the high prices that come along with eating on holidays.

Almost all hotel or motel rooms will have a microwave and refrigerator so stock up but ask first.

Other Keto Snacks To Pack For A Hotel Stay

Keto bagels flavours

Pack Food According To Your Hotel Agenda

If you are on vacation consider how much food you are bringing as it will take up space in your vehicle as well as your time and agenda.

There’s no point packing lots of food if you don’t plan to be in your hotel room until the end of the night or into the wee hours of the morning.

Not everyone has a big budget for travel or hotel stays but when you can save in one area you can splurge in others.

Alternatively, you can forget everything I’ve said above and just order in, eat out and relax.

Post Discussion:

I’d love to hear what foods you’ve made in a hotel room to save money on lunches and dinners while you were on holiday.

Please share your comments below. Was it worth it being frugal or should you have gone all the way and just eaten out?

January Grocery Game Challenge

Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post.

January Blog Posts:

Free Money Saving Tools

Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE.

We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

2014 Free Money Saving Tools

Don’t pay someone for these services, I’ve done the work for you along with some help from other amazing bloggers.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel It’s FREE!

We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.

Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbb

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken 5 years to create.

The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.

Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget-saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.

Share this guide with your friends and tell them about the Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3120 or $260/mth

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $260
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $260
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 410,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points  (I will update this twice a year) $1500 worth of free stuff.

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25
  • Checkout51 to cash out : $22.00

Our Grocery Shop This Week

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 2 x 4L 2% Milk Sealtest $4.27
  • 6 x Neilsen 10% Cream 500ml $1.50 each
  • 2 dozen eggs $1.99
  • Bacon $3.99 sale

Total Out-Of-Pocket $25.51 plus 4000 bonus optimum points for spending $20 on food

  • Total to spend this month : $260
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $0
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $49.66
  • Total spent this week: $25.31
  • Total spent so far this month: $231.06
  • Total over/Under spend this shop:
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: over
  • Total left to spend for the month: $29.14
  • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $0

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

As you may have read I’ve been very ill the past few days so this week grocery shopping was a quick in and out at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Coincidentally I was there picking up prescriptions, cough drops, and cough syrup.

The one-stop shop is worth it during these moments of sickness.

If we pick anything else up I’ll post it next week but we should be fine. Not a bad start to January I suppose minus the illness.

How was your shopping month?

Coupons and Coupon Apps 2017

Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!

These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money.

We’re finding fewer and fewer coupons in the stores these days.

What are your thoughts?

Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

Quick Canadian Savings Links

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards.

Where can I find Canadian Coupons?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

If any of these links are broken please report them to me.

Grocery Game Challenge FAQ’s

  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated for the 2017 challenge year.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends, it’s $CDN via PayPal. 
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
  • Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
  • Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available.
  • If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
  • What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our iPhone so if you want to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget as many people do.

This is why the grocery game challenge was created back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hangout spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning…

  • Where you are spending money
  • How much money you are spending
  • How much money you are saving every month

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide!

It’s FREE!

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2017!


Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?

  • Follow Me on Social media by clicking any of the buttons below on the blog.
  • Check out my new Free Recipe Index
  • If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving List
  • Don’t forget to Subscribe to Canadian Budget Binder by Email to get my daily email. Once you subscribe you MUST VERIFY your email account so check your spam folder and inbox for that email! By Subscribing you get all the inside scoops first plus any new finance tools and tips.
  • If you notice and broken links or errors please email me or leave a comment below.
  • Note some links used in this post will be affiliate links.








Share to...

Similar Posts