Hi all - we road-trip quite a bit along with my husband for work. Kids are 8 & 5. One will eat anything, one is moderately picky but is a fruit, dairy, and pasta freak so she makes it.
We often find ourselves in a hotel room in the evening or even for lunch & dinner while Dad is out working (baseball scout). The goal is for us to avoid room service or the walk across the parking lot to whatever "restaurant" fortune has gifted us with. Otherwise, it just gets a bit costly at this point for us to tag along. Secondary goal is to enjoy a really good meal that just happens to be in a hotel room.
I have run out of ideas for food to take along. What I normally take suffices well for snacks but doesn't satisfy as a meal. We usually take a mid-sized cooler (the size that isn't embarrassing to lug into the hotel room). It won't work as a refrigerator but we most often stay in the types of places that have a dorm fridge and small microwave. Here's the parameters for what I need:
1. *very* portable (I'm open to ziplocs, throwaway plastic, or "lug back home" containers). Individually portioned dishes would probably work really well if we are talking about a main, side, or "wet" dessert. For those I could use disposable cups and seal really well with plastic wrap.
2. either doesn't need refrigeration at all, or can fit into the cooler in a ziploc bag or such. I'm a food poisoning freak because of the kids so I can't hang with letting meat or egg dishes ride outside the cooler. Cooler space will basically be at a premium, but I don't mind allocating other bags for food.
3. can be mains, sides, salady things, desserts, or snacks. No fish/shellfish please.
4. economics are an issue. I really have to crack down on the grocery budget. I try to stretch the expensive stuff far, but still buy things that are very flavorful to make us feel that we aren't missing out (goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, capers, etc). So I need to limit the pricey stuff.
I would love a couple of harmonized meal ideas and I particularly think I need some hearty savory snacky things (thinking like cheese straws, sausage cheese balls, etc). FWIW, we have a freezer full of venison in pan sausage, smoked link, and Italian sausage format. Would be good to mow through some of that since hunting season is upon us again.
I love to bake and make homemade versions of commercial stuff (currently addicted to homemade yogurt courtesy of the mega-thread on Chow) so make ahead and freeze ideas might be nice too - something that could thaw in the cooler on the way, but would reheat in the microwave ok.
Of very particular interest would be some sort of bars or snacky things that would fit in my purse for outings outside the hotel to avoid visiting snack bars, fast food stops, etc.
Thanks all! I know it seems like I should be able to figure this out myself but I'm already just.so.very.tired of planning weekly meals at home and kid school lunches, etc. The thought of having to come up with extra creative energy to do this is too much. If I work up a couple of road food menus and rotate them, I'll be sailing.