11 Must Have Tools for Cooking on the Road

Motel 6 Sign and Logo

Motel 6 Sign and Logo (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

Last week, I mentioned that my wife and I are spending two weeks at a Motel 6 in between the end of our old lease at our old home and the beginning of our lease at our new one. Normally, I have a full size refrigerator and freezer, a stove & oven, large microwave, and cupboards full of pots, pans, plates, bowls, and all sorts of kitchen gadgets.

Now instead, I’m instead in a 300 square foot space with no kitchen save a mini-fridge and attached microwave. It’s a big shock for my culinary system! If you find yourself on the road for an extended period of time, having the right tools will help immensely for being able to prepare meals at your home away from home and avoid having to spend hundreds of dollars on dining out three meals per day.

As I said last week, there is no excuse for not cooking. There, I mentioned some foods that can be prepared with just a microwave or George Foreman grill.

This week, I am making a list of the kitchen appliances and tools to make sure you have on hand for your road trip.

Kitchen appliances for the road


Cans can only take you so far. You are going to want a way of keeping food cold so you can have milk for cereal, cold cuts for sandwiches, meat to cook for dinner, and a bit of space to store leftovers. If you are going to be staying in a hotel room, spend the extra couple dollars for a room with a mini-fridge or kitchenette. If you are a road warrior, you may want to invest in an electric icebox that plugs into the cigarette lighter.


The microwave is going to be one of your primary ways of cooking food. A motel room that has a mini-fridge should have an attached microwave. For the car, you can get a small microwave and a heavy-duty power inverter that connects directly to the battery.


Sometimes, you just want a bagel or toast. Toasters are small, lightweight, and will plug into any wall outlet or better power inverters. A word of warning: always clean it out between use: a bit of burnt bread will activate your motel room’s smoke detector.

George Foreman grill

This is your other major way of cooking. They are incredibly light and will fit in your suitcase for easy traveling (just make sure you clean it out before sticking it in with your clothes!)

Slow Cooker

What kitchen isn’t complete without a slow cooker? If you are going to be out all day, then a slow-cooker is the way to go. Simply get everything started in the morning and let it do it’s thing. When you stop for the day, dinner will be waiting for you.

Other must-have kitchen items for the road

Microwave safe containers

At the very least, you need a large container to cook pasta and rice, and a couple bowls with lids to heat sauces, and vegetables, and to cook ground beef. Betty Crocker has microwave directions online for Hamburger Helper!

Can opener

I forgot mine before I started this adventure. Had to go to the dollar store and get a cheap-o one because canned goods are a large part of our diet right now and most cans don’t come with pop-tops!

Measuring Cups/Spoons

If you are limiting yourself to re-heating pre-made fair, you won’t need these, but your diet will get old very fast. Pack a measuring cup and set of measuring spoons to measure things like water, milk, and butter.


If it is just you, you can get away with eating like a bachelor and eating straight from the container. Otherwise, buy a package of plates from a dollar store. They are cheap and the extras won’t take a lot of room.


Same goes with the utensils. Get some plastic utensils. You can always wash them in the bathroom sink if you want to be more environmentally friendly.

Dish soap

Speaking of washing, get some dish soap to clean the containers when you are done with them. Washing dishes is hard enough in a small bathroom sink. Don’t make it harder by trying to use bar soap as well.

Another great tip for washing dishes on the road is to take them into the shower with you. My father is a truck driver, and he takes his dishes into the truck stop showers with him.

Have you ever been on an extended road trip? How to you prepare food on the road?

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4 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anne @ Unique Gifter on 24.01.13 at 08:00

    I have spent a lot of time backpacking, therefore becoming adept in eating cheaply, moderately healthily and with few accouterments.
    I ate a lot of: yogurt, pasta with pesto (travels well), granola bar type things, apples, instant oatmeal.
    Sandwiches are another good one, as they are fairly affordable and easy to store ingredients. If you have a foreman grill, you can make some wicked toasted sandwiches!
    I travel with a spork, making eating things like yogurt from gas stations pretty easy. Thankfully in some other countries there are a lot of bakeries and street vendors who sell affordable, relatively healthy food.

  2. Posted by Edward Antrobus on 24.01.13 at 08:00

    They still make sporks? Haha

  3. Posted by Laurrie Piland on 24.01.13 at 08:00

    Are you kidding? LOL! I’m on an extended trip since we are full time RV’ers here….oh, I do have all the necessities, Keurig, KitchenAid, Le Crueset…LOL!

  4. Posted by Edward Antrobus on 24.01.13 at 08:00

    Haha. I don’t have a Keurig. I have a $4 coffee maker from Target and a large mug instead. :)

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