Make these delicious meals while you’re languishing in a temporary lodging facility

Tacos, burgers, and take-out Chinese food are great. For a few days. When your family is stuck in a hotel or on base temporary lodging facility (TLF) for weeks on end, those fast food options get old really quickly.

Stock Up

If you are on the road, try to keep some essentials in the car. It will help you to eat meals that are at least moderately healthy and avoid eating out all the time.

In the car, bring:

  • Instant oatmeal packs
  • Cartons of shelf-stable milk
  • Loaf of bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Small jelly packs, like the ones you find at a restaurant
  • Fruit, fresh and dried
  • Nuts
  • Individual tuna packs
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit squeeze pouches

Bring a cooler or big insulated lunch box. Freeze your ice packs at the hotels or use bags of ice from the hotel ice machine. Pack:

  • Cheese sticks
  • Lunch meat
  • Squeeze yogurt
  • Store-bought hard boiled eggs

On your trip, you should also pack a few kitchen essentials. At a minimum, bring one good skillet, a small pot with a lid, a knife for chopping, and a butter knife. If you have space, think about including a slow cooker or Instant Pot-type cooker.

Hotel essentials

When you finally land somewhere for a few days or until your house is available, it’s time to stock up. Head to a local grocery store or the commissary. . . stat!

You’ll want to grab dry items for breakfast, like oatmeal, bagels, and cereal. For lunch and dinner, stock up on bread, fruit, long-lasting veggies that don’t need to be cold (think: potatoes, onions, squash, garlic), canned goods (think: tuna, canned soups), and snacks (think: popcorn, crackers, granola bars, nuts).

If you do swing into fast food restaurants, keep unused condiment packets. They will keep better than buying larger bottles. Plus, they’re free!

If you have a fridge and a cooking range or burners, you can also buy eggs, milk, lunch meat, cheese, and meat. You can also make items that require heating, like pasta.

Have a microwave?

Even if you don’t have a fridge, you have some options. Try:

  • Microwave baked potatoes topped with canned chili, beans, or beef stew
  • Tuna salad sandwiches
  • Sliced hard salami, olives, and crackers
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
  • Microwave steamed veggies and microwave rice
  • Instant ramen
  • Spaghetti squash from The Kitchn

Have a fridge and microwave?

You can make:

If You Have a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

Why don’t you make:

Have a stove top?

The sky’s the limit! You can cook almost anything that you would cook at home. From stovetop steaks to sauted veggies, it’s all available to you.


By Meg Flanagan