Need some food ideas please: will determine if I can afford to move...

(25 Posts)
Inselaffe Tue 25-Mar-14 19:50:19

...not as weird as it sounds!

My job requires that I work away a lot, initially Mon-Fri but now three days a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. I rent a Mon-Fri flatshare but now that I work fewer days away it roughly breaks even with staying in a Travelodge (£20 a week more to stay in the flatshare).

I really don't want to live here any more - pros are that I can keep clothes here and the kitchen means I can cook cheaply but the flat is filthy and doesn't get cleaned unless I do so and I'm getting really fed up. It's rank - flatmate is also my LL so no point arguing about it/trying to get her to change.

The only thing stopping me moving is what I would do for food if I stayed in a Travelodge. Ideally I'd like not to spend so much on healthy food (no utensils so, e.g., pre cut vegetable sticks) that staying in the Travelodge isn't an economical option any more. If I buy wraps, for example, I won't use them all up in 3 days... unless it's economical to buy a packet and waste some, but I hate the thought of wasting food.

Does anyone have any ideas about cheapish ways to get 5 a day without access to utensils or anything beyond a mug and a kettle? I would have enough equipment to do jacket potatoes or sandwiches at work and porridge for breakfast but am stuck for evening food. I will have to transport clothes & toiletries every week so can't bring it with me as well.

I currently spend between £5-20 depending on if I'm stocking up or just supplementing the previous week's food. I don't want to spend more than £25 if I can help it. I wish Travelodges had microwaves! I'd live on ready made soup smile

Inselaffe Tue 25-Mar-14 20:04:49

Having had a think, I think I should add: I know £20 sounds a ridiculous amount of money for 3/4 days of meals but I'm not sure it is given that I can't cook or chop things up - everything has to be self-assembled and healthy and bear not being refrigerated... I'm just completely stuck on what to do and I can't eat sandwiches twice a day for the next year.

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Tue 25-Mar-14 20:09:10

Mmmmmm, that's a toughie. How about cous cous, you can get some with added veg then you just need to add water. Fresh fruit, olives and salads bits. Could you bake an extra spud at work then wrap it in foil. Or heat soup at work before you go then tip into a thermos flask?

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Tue 25-Mar-14 20:15:19

John West have just started doing a cous cous pot, presumably with tinned fish as well. Tinned fish would be a good source of protein.

NightCircus Tue 25-Mar-14 20:26:10

Cous Cous with chickpeas/kidney beans
Maybe rice noodles in a broth/miso soup
Ainsley Harriot hot and sour cup a soup surprisingly nice
'Look what we found' meals - see if heat with boiling water poured on or fit in the kettle!
Smash potato
Peanut butter on oat cakes
Fresh pasta maybe worth a go, you'd need to drain it and stir pesto through
Malt loaf keeps well
Scones with jam

Anything you can assemble at work and bring home to eat cold.....maybe pasta salads

NightCircus Tue 25-Mar-14 20:27:42

Flask a genius idea.
Could use with look what we found meals/soup/M and S tinned stuff

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Tue 25-Mar-14 20:29:19

Fresh bread with pate, you can get small amounts from the deli. If you are near a supermarket or a deli you could buy a fresh deli style meal each day and a bottle of wine this could be varied from day to day. It's what I used to do when I travelled for work.

oranges Tue 25-Mar-14 20:30:41

also ready roasted chicken pieces with bagged salad and fruit makes a healthyish no cook meal. do you have a fridge at work? if so bring in some meals from home, heat before you leave the office and eat at hotel. add seeds or nuts for crunch as reheated meals are often a bit mushy.

boobyooby Tue 25-Mar-14 20:31:57

I knew someone that stayed tues - Thursday each week in a travelodge, they bought a cheaply microwave from Asda's and took it with them !!!

theghostinthewashingmachine Tue 25-Mar-14 20:36:38

you can cook that filled tortellini pasta perfectly well by pouring boiling water over them and leaving them to stand for a few minutes. though that doesn't entirely help with the five a day question.

pancakesfortea Tue 25-Mar-14 20:39:16

I like a lentil, beetroot and feta salad. You can buy lentils cooked and beetroot cooked. Maybe assemble at work and bring back to the Travelodge?

Inselaffe Tue 25-Mar-14 21:20:33

Thanks for the ideas smile I like the lentil, beetroot and feta idea. We have a fridge at work but I don't want to take the mick. I'd forgotten you can buy ready-soaked lentils.

I like the idea of malt loaf and tortellini and heating soup at work into a Thermos, which I will have anyway as I bring my coffee from home the first day I travel. Unfortunately I commute by train (cheaper than running a second car!) so I really can't bring food if I am bringing an o/night bag plus my rucksack with laptop etc. Or a microwave! Although I did consider it.

I think I need to sit down, work out how many hotel rooms I would have booked in the last two months and then do a test run next week of the food to see how it would work. I went for a wander around the small Sainsbury's near us and I don't think it would be so bad - I can probably get 3 of my 5 a day by putting loads of fruit in my porridge, plus snack on dried fruits and buy a bottle of long life juice every week.

onepieceoflollipop Tue 25-Mar-14 21:28:43

Look for "eating out" options too, I don't mean 5 star restaurant, but jacket potato van (£2.50/£3 for basic filling). Soup and roll in pub or cafe?Also It is often more economical to buy a hot breakfast or even lunch than an evening meal. Personally I would eat my main meal earlier in the day, and have a snack meal with hot drink/soup lGer ln.

onepieceoflollipop Tue 25-Mar-14 21:29:48

Sorry, no idea what the last 2 words ln my post are!

Inselaffe Tue 25-Mar-14 21:48:17

onepiece That's a good suggestion actually I hadn't thought of that... I usually try to bring my lunch but I bought a jacket potato today for £2.50 (beans and cheese) and I was still full at dinner so I just defrosted some soup from the freezer.

I have done some calculations and worked out that, of the last 71 calendar days, I only stayed away for 24 which has cost me £40 approx per night.

Travelodge is about £30-35/night. This is so doable smile

NightCircus Tue 25-Mar-14 22:00:59

Thinking of veg:-

You can get those mini packs of 3 different flavoured hummus which you could keep in work fridge and use 1 at a time with ready cut carrot sticks- take a few at a time. This would do as a starter!
Tabbouleh could be assembled at work or made in room with some rolls and maybe chicken.
Also mixed bean salad with vinaigrette.
You could prob do a nicoise as well with tinned potatoes/tuna/olives/green beans and dressing.
A potato salad with tinned potatoes and peas and spring onion could also be assembled if you acquired mayonnaise sachets that don't need refrigerating.
M and S do lovely ready done salads!

Swoosg Tue 25-Mar-14 22:10:05

Miso soup, rice noodles (cooked by pouring boiling water over them), few cooked prawns

Ham, cheese, fruit, oatcakes

SilverStars Tue 25-Mar-14 22:16:04

Agree with eating main meal at work and a salad or soup type meal in the evening. May be worth looking up ready made salads and see the prices of those as well?

iwantavuvezela Tue 25-Mar-14 22:17:49

Not sure of the area, but you might find a local person who delivers, cooks meals? I am sure if you did this you would make it work!

NightCircus Tue 25-Mar-14 22:26:35

Greek salad
Avocado and prawns in Marie rose
Buy a small fresh baguette to have with.
I like this thread!

TinyDiamond Tue 25-Mar-14 23:37:15

Have you checked for another, cheaper, cleaner mon-fri lodge? In your situation I know I'd prefer my own space ie the hotel but the benefit of the home comforts and kitchen access would indeed help.

If it was me I'd do what others have said and maybe eat something filling and hot at work then have salady stuff in evening. Although I'd probably find a wetherspoons or somewhere to go and eat in once a week too grin

Passthecake30 Wed 26-Mar-14 08:43:53

I agree with pp...maybe someone else would quite like the idea of a (weekday only?) lodger?

I would eat a big meal in the afternoon and then maybe cup of soup/roll/fruit and most likely a copious amount of sweets and crisps to fill in the time lol

SilverStars Wed 26-Mar-14 19:17:04

Would a b&b option with use of a fridge/microwave be another option? I did this one night a week when travelling with work regularly. I did not eat or pay for breakfast and had access to kettle, microwave and sink etc after discussion with the owners. As they were quiet in the week they were accommodating.

QuiteQuietly Wed 26-Mar-14 21:05:32

Would the travelodge be nearby to the sort of petrol station that has a microwave for its pasty offering? The cheese and onion ones are often quite nice when you weary of salads and cous cous. Sometimes they have toasted sandwiches too! If they are not busy and you buy something, they sometimes let you use the microwave for other things.

Fresh thin pasta varieties of tortellini (the one with spinach/ricotta in) stodd in hot water for 3 minutes, drained and served with a camping-style sauce. Stand cherry tomatoes in a mug of hot water for a few minutes, drain and chop, add tinned sweetcorn and stir into tortellini. Or, stand a plastic pouch of pasta sauce in a mug of hot water to warm through - think ella's kitchen baby mush-style, but for grownups. Or tomato puree or pesto.

Bananas are good alone, or in sandwiches. Not warm, but filling and nourishing.

A wide-necked flask is useful. Take it filled with a stew or something for arrival. Then refill it with whatever you can cook at work or buy in canteen. I got a great one from Wilkos a few years ago for about £4.

I would absolutely do the Travelodge over the lodging, but I (really) enjoy my own company. If you book online, tick business rather than personal and they send you a money off code for next time.

jgjgjg Fri 28-Mar-14 20:00:19

If you're driving, I'd second the idea of buying a cheap microwave and taking it with you. Life would then be so much easier as you could buy ready-meal type things. You could also buy one of those tiny little drinks fridges and take that too - would hold a bit of milk, fruit and salad at least.

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