Posted by: thehungryrunner | November 10, 2010

My “healthy eating while traveling” secret weapon: The $10 Hot Pot!

Having just spent two busy weekends traveling — first to Colorado Springs to compete in my first major fitness competition in a couple of years (more about that in another post), then to Portland to visit family, I find myself more Electric hot pothabituated around “healthy eating while traveling” mode at the moment, rather than “healthy eating at home” mode.  Strange, isn’t it usually the opposite?  Not being one who travels very regularly, I have to wonder if this is what happens with people who travel very routinely for their work.  I expect these next few days will bring a shift back to my normal food preparation routine.

In any event, I must pass along a tool I stumbled upon about a year and a half ago, which has been such a life-saver I’m actually surprised I don’t see it mentioned more often in articles that offer suggestions for “healthy hotel room cookery.”  That tool is the hot pot!  I learned of it when researching ways to prepare hot food and beverages safely, without a microwave or stove.  It literally cost me $9.99 at Walgreen’s (I think it might be up to $12.99 now).  But with what it’s given us, I’d gladly pay much more (shhhhh….don’t tell the manufacturer!).

Basically, it’s a plug-in electric kettle that boils water very quickly.  It’s actually plastic, with a metal heating plate inside, so very lightweight and portable — I’ve packed it in my luggage for the airport, and simply made sure soft clothing items surround it to prevent it from breaking.  Since we usually don’t have a kitchenette in our room, I typically simply use the bathroom sink counter for the unit, since there’s usually an outlet there for the hairdryer.  But beware!  The water heats very quickly, so you don’t want to leave the hot pot unattended.

So what reasonably healthy food can one prepare with this puppy?  Here’s a smattering of the warm, welcoming food that has nourished many a trip — and rather inexpensively, I might add:

  • HOT coffee, using those coffee “tea bags” (a much better option, in my opinion, than those God-only-knows-what-microorganisms-are-growing-in-it coffee makers you get in the room)
  • Instant cup of soup:  Yes, high sodium, but which would you take?  A hot mug of tomato soup or Sugar Fruit Chews from the vending machine?  Add a piece of fruit or a cup of no-sugar-added applesauce, and you have a quick and light meal that soothes and refreshes.
  • Instant mashed potatoes:  Again, a ton of sodium, but not much fat, relatively light on the calories, and very filling!
  • Couscous:  Here’s what I do:  I bring a large plastic storage bowl — the kind you buy with a lid, only I don’t bring the lid.  Dump the couscous, along with the flavor packet, into the bowl, boil the water, add about 2 cups or so of water to the couscous, stir well, then let sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and you have dinner.  If possible, I will often stop at the grocery store en route to the hotel for a few carrots, green onion or tomato, then chop them up and add to the couscous.
  • Instant oatmeal or other hot cereal:  The “if all else fails” food!  If I happen to have some raisins or trail mix on hand, I will add these to the uncooked cereal, prior to adding the boiled water.  The hot water helps to “plump” the raisins (or other dried fruit), and the nuts in the trail mix add a satisfying crunch and protein.
  • Hot cocoa:  I’ll sometimes end my fine hotel room dining with a cup of instant hot cocoa, as my “dessert.”  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
  • Hot peppermint (or other tea):  Aside from escaping whatever microorganisms are hiding inside the hotel room coffee maker, what I like about the hot pot is just how much HOTTER the water is, vs. that of the coffee maker.  Makes for much more soothing, enjoyable cups of tea, anytime I want!

No, they’re not necessarily the meals you would gravitate to when at home and have all the other options, but if you’re looking to save some food expenses or you anticipate being room-bound much of the time or you just prefer to give yourself healthy meals you can prepare yourself instead of whatever happens to be available at or around the hotel, I highly recommend adding the hot pot to your travel pack list!



  1. oh man, I had one of those hot pots in college and after discovering your blog today, I went out and bought one. Perfect for tea. Great blog! thanks!

    • Thank you Emily, I’m glad my post inspired your using a hot pot again!

  2. Nice weapon ,..

    Please visit back Travelingsecret

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