Personal preferences, the agenda for your trip and the size of your suitcase all come into play when you plan what food to carry with you for a weekend away from home. You'll probably be out exploring the environs during the day, and you may want to eat out in local restaurants for at least one dinner, so focus on snacks, breakfasts and foods that work for either lunch or dinner.
Buy liquids, such as milk for cereal or juice for snacks, in local markets or convenience stores to avoid suitcase leakage and spoilage.
Your favorite dry cereal, granola or packets of instant oatmeal all travel well if you pack them in a sturdy zipper-top plastic bag so they won't tear and spill into your suitcase -- two-day's worth of cereal doesn't take up much space. Pack a few handfuls of dried fruit, such as cranberries or banana chips, to sprinkle onto your cereal or nosh on during the day.
Check with your hotel before you arrive to verify what appliances, dishware and pots are in your mini-kitchen. You may need to pack a can opener or corkscrew.
Breakfast cereals can double for snacks if you like, but bring other snacks for a mid-afternoon break in your hotel or for late-night munchies. Pack extra plastic bags to portion out the snacks during your two days. Snacks that travel well include:
- Roasted nuts,
- Apples, which stay fresh for one to three days at room temperature,
- Soft cookies, which travel well without breaking apart
- Chocolate kept in a plastic bag while traveling.
Avoid carrying soft fruits and vegetables, such as cherries, strawberries, apricots or lettuce. These foods can get bruised during transit and begin to harbor unsafe bacteria at room temperature during your travel time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends refrigerating these foods at all times.
Pack at least one plastic bottle of your favorite beverages, just in case you arrive when stores are closed. Also consider bringing:
- Individual packets of instant coffee;
- Packets of sugar for the coffee;
- A packet or two of hot chocolate or instant cider for an evening snack if you're traveling in winter.
Most perishable foods need refrigeration after two hours at room temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so only bring foods that will stay safe during the entire time you spend traveling. You can safely include:
- Beef, turkey or salmon jerky;
- Tangerines or oranges, packed in a hard container so they don't get squished;
- Bananas, if you can pack them in hard containers as you do the citrus fruits.
Bring along a plastic bag with a few tablespoons of your favorite spice, such as cinnamon for your oatmeal or an Italian herb blend to sprinkle on a microwave meal.
Check if you have a microwave in the small hotel kitchenette. If you think you'll want to eat lunch at the hotel or cook dinner, bring these meals:
- A microwavable meal or soup packet that just needs water to be added;
- Tortillas or pita bread rounds;
- Single-serving packets of peanut butter, refried beans, tuna or meat spreads that work as either dinner or lunch spread on tortillas or pita bread;
- Precooked rice in a pouch. Add nuts, dried fruit and canned chicken for a rice pilaf dinner to microwave.