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wiscoblond's avatar

How would you feed yourself for 8 days with access to only a mini-fridge and microwave?

Asked by wiscoblond (2250points) August 6th, 2019

My husband and I will be spending the next 8 nights in a hotel with a mini-fridge and microwave. They offer a continental breakfast.

We don’t have money to eat out. We need the cheapest ideas possible. I’m planning on making spaghetti and cooking chicken for chicken salad in the morning. We can take it with us to the hotel. That will feed us for 4 nights.

Do you have any simple ideas for the remaining 4 nights?

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45 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I often purchase microwave dinners, and seldom pay more than $2.50 each. We also have a large supply of canned meals (Progresso soups, Chili, and such, plus canned tuna.) I have a motel basket stocked with plates, silverware and microwave dishes. I take or buy fresh vegetables for salads, and include shredded cheese, crackers, and bread. Don’t forget can opener, knife, cutting board, mayo or butter.

gondwanalon's avatar

Sandwiches, Ramen, cans of soup. Milk, cereals, soft drinks, munchies.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I have a neurological condition which makes cooking difficult and sometimes dangerous. I have developed a few ways to use just the microwave. First of all, baked potatoes are easy. Also, a bag of potatoes is cheap, and easy to store, and will last a week.
Once they are baked lots of things can be done with them.
I make potato soup that way. While the potato is cooking I put my other ingredients into a mug. When the potato is done I cut it into chunks and put them in the mug. There is so much heat from the potato that it doesn’t take long for the soup to finish.
It can be mashed, cut into chunks, or eaten as is with toppings. Gravy in a jar will give some variety.
Keep condiments to a minimum.

I stayed in a motel once with just a microwave and fridge. There was one of those things to put your suitcase on, with straps, and it folds up. I tied two straps together so that I could put my iron between them hot side up. That worked perfect as a hot plate. I put a skillet on that and fried eggs, pork chops, pancakes, anything. Just a thought I’m tossing out there.

Usually continental breakfast includes fresh fruit, which can be taken to your room to be eaten later. Wear something with deep pockets. In fact, if they offer make your own pancakes, they work well for snacks as a wrap. Slice a banana in half and again lengthwise. Wrap it in a pancake. That isn’t fancy, but it is easy and filling.

Chili dogs, easy in a microwave.
There is always Spam. The best Spam comes from Hyderabad, but any Spam works.

Veggies, beans, canned meats, all sorts of foods come in pull tab cans now so a can opener is not often needed.

NOTE : potatoes must have holes for steam to escape the skin. Cut an X with a knife or pierce with a spork. Also it should be turned over when half done. That would be about the time it first starts to feel soft when squeezed.

jca2's avatar

Make some hard boiled eggs and keep them in the refrigerator.

Is it a chain hotel? I ask because usually the breakfast in a chain is pretty hearty, even if it’s called “continental.” You can also take some stuff from the breakfast, like fruit or pastries, to have later on in the day.

I would have fruit and cheese and crackers, which will supplement whatever you have and will be a snack. I’d also take some cold cuts and lettuce and a loaf of bread or rolls and make sandwiches.

rebbel's avatar

@Patty_Melt Hyderabad Spam :-)

chyna's avatar

Microwave Mac and cheese.

canidmajor's avatar

It’s high summer, sandwiches and wraps (really, so many choices!), chips and bean dips and salsa, pasta salads (you can cook pasta in the microwave).

LadyMarissa's avatar

After my husband died, I survived on soup & saltine crackers until I could get my life back under control. Although I had made my own, you could get by with canned soup. I know it’s not as good as homemade; but when hungry, it’s better than nothing!!!

Another thing that can get you by is to make a pone of cornbread & then eat cornbread & milk. That is a Southern staple!!!

kritiper's avatar

Have lots of granola bars on hand.
Canned mac & cheese, chicken alfredo, spaghetti, lasagna.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Meal replacement drinks ( don’t need to be refrigerated..) but should only have one a day.
Lots of dried meals that one microwaves before eating.
Canned items. ( beef stew,soups,lots of variety of foods in cans now).
Noodle packets add water and microwave.
Dried fruits , vegetables, nuts..lots in the Health food Stores.
Go to Survival Supply websites as they have a vast variety of goods to take outdoors and these may be what you could use.

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KNOWITALL's avatar

You can also get dried beef for sandwiches that doesn’t need refrigerated.

Where’s @reddeerguy1, he’s the cheap foodie here! haha

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

You can try sample packages from survival stores, like Mountain House. You usually can buy from local sporting goods stores and Walmart and online from Amazon or 72 hour emergency stores. I am getting a delivery today , from Amazon, of 9 Mountain House granola with blueberries and milk for $6.35 Canadian each. All you need is 125 milliliters or a half cup of cold cold water and stir.
Local Meal, Ready-to-Eat have field army rations and self heating meals.
With Amazon prime you can get quick delivery like two days for my breakfast Mountain Foods.
Start small just in case you don’t like the meals.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Or if you want something quick and simple ramen is always good. You can get as low as $0.10 each. Just don’t use all of the flavor packet. The flavor packet is high in salt. You can boil in the microwave and stir and eat when tying not to scold yourself. The cup of soup form of ramen is a luxury but much better form of ramen. than the square chunks you get for cheap. Should cost $0.67 to $2.50 Canadian at dollar stores.

jca2's avatar

Oatmeal packets are convenient, too.

seawulf575's avatar

Peanut butter and jelly, lunch meats and cheese, a box of crackers, a stalk of celery and some carrots and a few apples.

Kardamom's avatar

A bag of washed, chopped lettuce, and some chopped veggies, and some grape tomatoes, and a bottle of dressing to make salads. A block of cheese, some homemade chili, a few apples and oranges, canned tuna or chicken, some tortillas, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a small jar of jelly, some hard boiled eggs, a can of mixed nuts, a few cans of soup, or dried ramen, some already cooked pizza, consolidated into foil, or ziplock bags, some sliced cooked meat, and some canned baked beans.

JLeslie's avatar

If they have boxes of cereal and milk cartons I’d take some to my room for a stash to eat for snacks or even a meal.

They might have hot chocolate packets for something sweet at night.

Salad and a microwaveable pizza (the small Red Barron are microwaveable I think).


Check the frozen area at the grocery store to see if they have clearance items.

I really enjoy Stouffer’s frozen lasagna. The family size is $6 on sale I think. I split that with my husband and add peas and corn on the side. It’s not the mega big 9X12 one.

Peanut butter, bread, cheese, whatever of those sorts of things that you like.

Some healthy snacks, fruit like apples and pears, or veggies like carrots, keep really well. Or, things like apple sauce.

Dollar menu at McD’s if you want to get out one night. Or, the McD’s app for coupons.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Wait! Did yo saw they serve continental breakfast? Is that the Costco danish and coffee type continental breakfast or is it a good one that has bananas toast, pancakes, and cereal?

You’re trying to do this on the cheap. right? Depeding upon your size and daily activity you need about 2000 – 2200 calories per day. (Sure you need nutrients, too, but this is a good place to start.) I would eat as much as I could at the breakfast. I might even get up early and go down there when it opens and return later about 30 minutes before it closes. Your goal is to reach your calorie limit at lowest cost.
For variation get a dozen eggs. They cost about $1.00 are easy to cook and have a lot of nutrients. Plop one in a $0.12 package of instant ramen and you’ve made a meal!

Good luck. Try not to go stir-crazy!

wiscoblond's avatar

Thanks everyone! We are at a Super 8 so I’m curious to see how their breakfast is. At least I’m an adventurous person. I don’t have my hopes up but they might surprise me. I did see a waffle station.

Great suggestions!

@loli We can’t do delivery. The fees and tip would cost too much for us right now. We need super cheap.

LadyMarissa's avatar

The Stouffer’s Lasagna that Leslie mentioned is delicious. IF you have a Dollar General nearby, they only charge about $4.50 for the 1 pound box. Fifteen minutes in the microwave & you have a delicious meal!!! They also have 2 stuffed peppers for $4.50 that are pretty good & ready in 17 minutes in the microwave. The peppers aren’t as good as homemade but pretty dayum good for a microwave meal. The price may vary where you live. Here, when they put them on sale I can get them for $3.00. I usually keep a couple of boxes in my freezer for those days I can’t get out to eat & I can’t cook for myself.

JLeslie's avatar

I just checked and the lasagna I was talking about is just over 2lbs. It should be cheaper to get that then the suggestion @LadyMarissa made, but prices might be different where you are going than what I have here. You have to be careful at Dollar stores, a lot of times the food is not cheaper per ounce, but rather they focus on poor people who need low prices for their check to check situation. Although, I have gotten great deals on items that aren’t food at places like Dollar Tree.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Living by myself, I don’t even look at the 2 pound boxes of ready to eat meals as it takes me forever to eat it all. The 1 pound box will easily feed me 2 meals so I assumed it would feed 2 people 1 meal with nothing left to store. My Dollar Tree doesn’t carry food items except chips & crap like that. I think I said I bought my meals at Dollar General & my Dollar General has a frozen food section which might not be the healthiest of foods but is good enough to get you through 8 days of cheap meals without ruining your health. Anyway, it was just another idea for limited space with limited funds.

jca2's avatar

Check regular super markets, @wiscoblond. You will find a lot of items in the frozen section that are pretty cheap. The hotel may even let you store some items in their large refrigerator and freezer.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Vegetables steamed in the microwave are as good as stovetop. Put them in a bowl with a little water and cover with plastic wrap or a plate. Asparagus, broccoli, green beans, etc. work great.

Corn on the cob simply nuke it in the husk. No plastic, no covered dish. Try 4 minutes and adjust for your machine. Remove with a towel (careful it’s steaming hot!), chop off the butt end, and pull the husk and silk off like a sleeve.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I too cook veggies in the microwave sometimes. I put them in a Corelle cereal bowl and place a pl te on top. I pour about ½ ” pof water in and turn on the full power for about 3 minutes until the window gets steamy. I wait about 2 minutes and hit is again for 2 minutes.
Broccoli is perfect.
I also cook eggs but i whip them first. Once again I use Corelle only this time I use a tea cup slathered with butter or oil. 40 second per egg.

wiscoblond's avatar

Thank you so much for the suggestions. The spaghetti and chicken salad is getting tiresome and the breakfast here isn’t the best. Their bagels aren’t bad and they do have yogurt. I can feel my body wanting healthier food. I’ll be returning to look at your suggestions again in a day or two. We still have 5 nights to go after tonight.

JLeslie's avatar

You’re probably feeling protein deprived.

Hot dogs microwave well and usually a brand is on sale. You could do the classic baked beans with the hot dog.

Another protein, black bean soup? Can of black beans for $1.20 and some tomato and onion and water. Heat ¼ of water and little diced onion and diced tomato in the microwave for one minute. Then add the can of beans including the liquid the beans come in. Stir. Heat another minute. Taste and add more water if too salty or thick. Use the rest of the tomato in a salad. To go with the soup.

You can do the soup just with the beans and water if you don’t want to deal with cutting up the tomato and onion.

Or, beans and rice will be a complete protein.

I buy Idahoan baby reds mashed potatoes in the packets, you just add water. It’s usually $1.00. I microwave 2 cups of water for 2.5 minutes and then add the dried potato.

You could make instant stuffing in the microwave too. Add some sliced turkey on the plate and it’s Thanksgiving for very cheap.

wiscoblond's avatar

@JLeslie Definitely protein deprived. Today included 2 Eggos, a glass of orange juice, some Wheat Thins with cream cheese, some honey roasted peanuts, two granola bars and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Not good but at least it was something.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wiscoblond Is that their free breakfast? f I stayed in a hotel with that breakfast I’d never leave. :-)
Have you tried a bagel with peanut butter and jelly? It’s even more delicious with a free coffee.

JLeslie's avatar

@wiscoblond The eggs, cheese, and peanut butter gave you some protein so that’s good. When I go no animal I sometimes feel my strength go away. I have to be really careful to eat enough protein and dark colored veggies. Apples help me feel full, but when I’m eating a lot of starch already the apples aren’t very appealing. It’s so hard when your choice is limited. I sympathize.

Luckily, it’s temporary for you. Just a few more days.

jca2's avatar

@wiscoblond: Can you supplement with some fast food burgers or chicken at a local fast food place?

JLeslie's avatar

I have $2 off $10 on my McD’s app today and buy one breakfast sandwich get one free, but I don’t know if it has my location in it?

I think a package of hot dogs is much cheaper though and they’ll keep in the little fridge.

wiscoblond's avatar

@LuckyGuy Their breakfast includes Raisin Bran, Frosted Flakes, apples, oatmeal packets, bread, bagels, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, Eggos, peanut butter, jelly, butter, syrup and cream cheese. Coffee, milk, orange juice, apple juice as well. :)

@JLeslie We are half way through!

@jca2 I have a good feeling we’ll do a cheap burger from McDonalds one of these nights. Or I might do a sausage biscuit. They are only $1.06 including tax. I do like their biscuits.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wiscoblond That is quite a spread. Breakfast is easily covered. I’d eat a lot of the raisin bran so I got my fiber. I noticed veggies and leafy greens are not on the menu. Take a walk to the nearest grocery store and buy some carrots and a head of lettuce or cabbage and add that to my daily intake. PB and J bagels would be a good meal for lunch.
No doubt there is a Goodwill in the area. You can pick up any utensils you might need for almost nothing.
Take lots of free showers. Have fun!

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy I think probably the hotel has plastic utensils she can take for free. If not at the hotel then probably at the grocery story if she goes to buy some veggies or meat. I suggested some sort of veggies too, or if they aren’t vegetable eaters then meat to get the vitamins and minerals they aren’t getting. I thought of suggesting multivitamin pills, but they tend to be expensive. The cereal is enriched with vitamins and minerals most likely now that I think about it. The peanut butter has a decent amount of iron (I get very iron deficient, but that’s me not necessarily them) and the raisins add a little more.

@wiscoblond Is your tongue hurting? Sort of like a dry feeling?

wiscoblond's avatar

I’m craving a salad for sure. I might do that tomorrow. I spent ten hours today moving furniture and boxes so I didn’t get to eat much. I started the day with a sausage biscuit from McDonalds and I ended the day with a McDouble. I got my protein today.

@JLeslie Nope.

I did bring utensils from our home so we have that covered.

JLeslie's avatar

I get iron deficient easily, and one of the symptoms is a sore tongue. It’s supposedly a symptom of low B12 also, and my B12 does get low, but it hasn’t been below normal.

I’m glad you were able to eat hearty today when you did your big move.

Just a little longer.

wiscoblond's avatar

I made such a rookie mistake today. I went to Walmart to buy some frozen meals. I bought two dinners, three burritos and four small chicken pot pies without considering our freezer space. Our freezer will only hold the burritos and one dinner.

I was distracted by exhaustion from the day before and a strange encounter with another shopper. As I entered the store a young woman tried to enter at the same time. We both looked at each apologetically to let the other go first. She was barefoot, carrying some clothes and her sandals. She was in tears. I went towards the deli to the right and she went to a bench next to the self checkout area. I watched her because I was worried about her. She was obviously in distress. I kept an eye on her as I grabbed a few items, then I noticed an employee was also curious. I continued on with my shopping.

I grabbed items for the next few days worrying about this young woman. As I entered the self checkout area there were two police speaking to the woman. I could hear some of the conversation. They told her they could call an ambulance for her. She was still crying and in distress. Was she raped? Was it drugs? I’ll never forget this poor girl. I wanted to help initially as I entered the store but I was hesitant for my own safety.

Sorry for going off topic but it was a strange afternoon and now I have four pot pies sitting in refrigeration instead of a freezer. Will they be okay for us to heat up tomorrow in the microwave?

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Frozen dinners kept in the fridge are OK to eat. It’s all cooked food, nothing is raw.

The pot pie crust might get mushy. That’s about the worst consequence.

jca2's avatar

@wiscoblond: The pot pies will be ok in the refrigerator. You could also try asking the staff if you can keep them in the hotel’s big refrigerator. It’s only for a day or two and it’s not a huge amount of stuff.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Yes, they will keep in the fridge. Just remember that they aren’t frozen so it will take LESS time to cook!!! Some frozen food boxes will tell you how long to cook if thawed & how long to cook if frozen. Generally the time on the box is from a frozen state & you might need to figure out the time if thawed. Can be a pain, but it can be done!!!

You should be moving into your new place within the next few days right??? Good luck with your move!!!

wiscoblond's avatar

Thank you! One more night after tonight. Can’t wait!

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