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How to Use The Instant Pot in a Hotel Room

How To Use The Instant Pot In A Hotel Room

Traveling with kids and a real food goal isn’t easy, especially if you have any who get carsick (we have two!).

Throw in trying to be on a budget, and everyone who does it deserves a blue ribbon “Super Parent” award!

Not long ago I discovered a magical way to bring real food to a hotel room without sandwiches or takeout – Instant Pot to the rescue! (Found on Amazon. See all my Instant Pot posts here.)

Hotel Rooms, Swimming, Real Food, & Kids

We’re not really regular spring break travelers, but this year we thought we’d do a “mini vacay” and stay in a hotel overnight so that the kids could escape the grayness of April and swim in a pool and have fun.

We had a baby shower to go to about two hours away and figured it was a perfect time to do it, but we knew that one night goes FAST! No way did we want to spend 1-2 hours at a restaurant (with kids) and even ordering in would be tough to time perfectly with all the swimming my kids wanted to do.

You’re Just *7 Days* Away From Easier Meals with Your Instant Pot

Whether you have a few fav meals in your Instant Pot or still aren’t using it regularly yet, I can show you the secrets to SAVE time (and money) with my favorite appliance!

May I send you my best hacks to maximize my fav appliance so you can spend more time with your family AND nourish them well?

Get IP hacks in short emails and transform the way you serve dinner:

For the record, we checked in at like 5:00 (the baby shower was long!), swam, ate dinner, went to sleep, woke up, at breakfast, swam, ate lunch, and swam again. We got an extension on checkout time because it was a Monday. They were fish!

And what did we have for dinner, you ask?


Instant Pot boneless BBQ pork ribs

and this:

homemade potato salad

It took me about 10 minutes, tops, to throw it all together once we arrived, and then we jumped in the pool while it cooked itself, returning to the room famished. Ta da! A real food dinner was perfectly ready to eat.

No way could we have timed even pizza delivery that well! And our meal was so much more nourishing and frugal.

Packing for the Instant Pot in a Hotel Room (or any on-the-go opportunity)

cooking with an Instant Pot in a hotel room

It definitely takes some planning ahead, but it wasn’t difficult. I was able to prep for the away-from-home dinner during dinner prep time two days before we left when I was team-working with my kids on a meal (they know how to cook!).

We used this boneless pork BBQ rib recipe, and here’s what I did to prep half a batch, because I didn’t want leftovers to deal with:

  1. Sliced the onion and put in a disposable cottage cheese tub with the 1 Tbs. solid fat (coconut oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site) or lard) right on top.
  2. Measured the “rub” spices into a small baggie.
  3. Measured the “sauce” spices, vinegar, and tomato paste into a one-cup watertight container (the metal one in the photo). The recipe calls for 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 cup water or broth, but since I was cutting it in half and I know the IP requires a full cup of liquid, I decided to use half a can of tomato paste and the full cup of water.)
  4. Opened a package of Costco boneless ribs and put just enough for our family into a large-sized yogurt tub and froze it. The rest of the package of ribs was frozen for another meal or two.
  5. Packed a long wooden spoon, the Instant Pot, and some paper plates and real utensils (in a reusable sandwich bag).
How To Use The Instant Pot In A Hotel Room

To complete the meal, we made a batch of potato salad, one of our favorites, and we knew it would be ready-when-we-are, plus cut raw veggies and homemade ranch dressing dip (just enough for one meal, no leftovers hopefully!).

Storing Food for the Trip

caught in a snowstorm in April

We had a full-sized cooler with some heavy-duty ice packs and all this stuff in it, and it was plenty safe for a full 36 hours, because we went to a museum (and got caught in a freak April snowstorm walking back to our van!), visited a friend in the area, and stayed overnight with family the night before the baby shower.

Note: Obviously we weren’t battling heat outdoors like you might in the summer. But we have a really good cooler that we take camping, and I’m sure it would have been okay even in high temps with all the ice packs.

RELATED: Easy Foods for Camping

Did our hotel room have a fridge? Only a tiny mini-fridge that we could fit a few items in. Freezing the meat was key for food safety, and in case it hadn’t thawed completely, the Instant Pot can totally handle frozen meat safely as well.

Making Food in a Hotel Room with the Instant Pot

How To Use The Instant Pot In A Hotel Room

I have to admit: I was a little nervous that the delicious smells would bring hotel management knocking and telling me I couldn’t cook in a hotel room, but thankfully, it didn’t happen!

I was able to dump the onions out, fat first, into the IP on Saute, stir them around until browned, and then simply follow the easy recipe the rest of the way. I used the one-cup container to measure the water for the Instant Pot and added a tiny bit extra just to be safe.

We did pretty well not having any leftovers, and I had packed a double of potato salad because I knew we needed lunch the next day:

potato salad side dish

Yum. We love that stuff so much. Winking smile

Yes! Real Food is Possible While Traveling!

We packed food for lots of snacks, one or two lunches, two breakfasts, and one dinner (and ate out with our relatives for the other), and it looked something like this:

How To Use The Instant Pot In A Hotel Room

There might have been a few other items in the dry goods bag, maybe some organic tortilla chips (thank you, Costco!) and salsa to round out lunches or some hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

Simple fare, but nourishing, simple, budget-friendly, and on our time, not a restaurant’s.

Paleovalley Meat Sticks

It can be hard to find healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go. When I want the convenience of a jerky stick, but want a healthy, protein packed snack option, I grab Paleovalley meat sticks. Paleovalley ingredients have these high standards that you can feel good about:

100% grass fed beef sticks, pasture raised beef sticks
  • 100% Grass Fed Beef & 100% Pasture Raised Turkey
  • Never given antibiotics or hormones
  • Gluten free, soy free, dairy free
  • 0 grams of sugar*
  • Contains no artificial nitrates or nitrites
  • Non-GMO
  • Naturally fermented and contain gut-friendly probiotics!

*With the exception of Teriyaki, which contains 2 grams of sugar from Organic Honey.

These beef sticks and turkey sticks taste delicious! My favorite is the Jalapeño but my kids love Summer Sausage.

Use this link to get 15% off your order at Paleovalley. Read my Paleovalley Review to learn more!

I was so pleasantly surprised at how easy cooking with an Instant Pot in a hotel room (of all places!) could really be. You can get the Instant Pot I have on Amazon – I recommend watching the price using because it will fluctuate and can hit very nice lows on Prime Day and before Christmas! 

How To Use The Instant Pot In A Hotel Room

Cleaning Up Was Easy Too

I just used some dish soap that we have in a small container for camping anyway and did a small batch of dishes in the bathroom sink, laying out everything to dry on clean towels on the counter.

There wasn’t much to bother with: some utensils, the pot itself + lid, and the bowl from the potato salad. I tossed the plastic containers (actually I think I brought all the “juices” home with me in one of them and made BBQ rice for an easy side the next day). It took about 10 minutes after the kids went to bed, when the parents are stuck in a dark hotel room trying to be quiet anyway. 😉

Easy peasy!

Traveling as a family with real food in real life is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. Learn from my experience packing a family of 6 up in a van for a two-month road trip. See what we brought with us, what we left home, how we ate healthy for cheap while we were away from home, and most impressively how we fit everything we needed for two months in the van with all 6 of us!

Print the Road Trip Packing List: Your Guide to Stress-Free Packing
What strategies do you use to eat real food when you’re not at home?

What ELSE Can You Do with Your Instant Pot?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

20 thoughts on “How to Use The Instant Pot in a Hotel Room”

  1. Have you or any of your readers taken your instant pot in a checked luggage for a domestic or international flight? I am moving to Mexico and would really like to bring it, as well as my Vitamix. Thanks!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Alana, You should check with the airline you’re flying with to make sure, but I’ve found cases of people being allowed both of these items in their checked luggage. The Instant Pot particularly is an odd shape to get in a suitcase though and both are very heavy. It might be easier to mail them ahead of you.

  2. I am curious about one thing: doesn’t all this cooking leave lingering food smells in the room? If so, wouldn’t that be a bit unpleasant for the guests who use the room after you? I am not asking to be critical: I am tempted to use my IP when traveling, too, but am just wondering if this would be a bit discourteous for the next guests. We have fixed whole-meal salads and cold sandwiches many times in our room, but we haven’t cooked hot food. Whenever my family and I check into a hotel room, I suspect we might be taken aback if it was filled with food smells, just as we would be if a smoker had used the room. I’m especially curious because a hotel/motel room is not equipped to vent out food smells, as the fan above a kitchen stove might be. Perhaps this is not an issue and I am incorrect, but I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks.

    1. I don’t necessarily think it is a problem. It is pretty common for people to eat in hotel rooms, whether it is getting room service or bringing in food, anything from fast food (burgers, fries, onion rings, etc), Chinese Food, Pizza, and many other kinds of “aromatic foods”. It would be similar to being in your own home, with the smell dissipating after a couple of hours (or less).

  3. I just received an Instant Pot for Christmas and am learning to use it. We are thinking about a cross-country road trip next summer. We always cook a lot of our own food on our vacations to save money and eat better so I’ve been thinking about how to do easy meals that are healthy(Paleo-ish), cost-effective and not too messy or produce a lot of leftovers. I had thought I could take my electric skillet but now I’m wondering about using the Instant Pot instead! Was so glad to find this post! Thank you! Pinning it for future reference.

    1. Oh Mary Ann, I think the Instant Pot will be perfect! You can saute in it of course so it will double as a skillet if you need that, and it can cook while you’re sight-seeing or setting up camp too. I love the hands-off-ness of it. Enjoy! 🙂 Katie

  4. I have used a crock pot to reheat something I cooked up at home. I can make pizza or focciacia at home. I also make sausage balls* for travel. We don’t mind them cold or room temperature. I sure don’t have money or time for restaurant meals!

    The in room coffee pots can cook up more than coffee! But I like coffee too…

    * Sausage, grated cheddar cheese, baking mix. Mix, form and bake. Not greasy!

  5. I usually take an electric skillet which easily cooks up supper and then I can make eggs and bacon in the morning. Now I’ll have to decide whether to take my IP as well or take it instead. 🙂 A good problem to have.

  6. We live in the Midwest. We had a Disneyland vacation last summer and I brought my full size IP along! Needless said, TSA opened the box and examined “carefully” each way. But thankfully no parts were lost or broken. I loved that we had warm dinner waiting for us every night. We didn’t have to wait in line forever at restaurants and constantly questioned the waiter about ingredients since we have many allergies. I also used your tips for lunch time foods. The savings were incredible and we didn’t have any flare ups during the vacation. Thank you Katie!

  7. Ive also brot spaghetti meat sauce in mason jars and cooked spaghetti or pasta in ziplocs to eat for dinners when pizza just wasnt in the budget if we were paying for that awful motel rm, awful priced I mean! Usually the brkfst bar has bowls or plates to dump the meal onto too but i always bring bowls and paper plates. Along with plastic silverware.

  8. Yes, soak oats overnite in the room and cook up next a.m. Skip the awful brkfst bars! Well, go get an orange and some milk lol
    If you bring hdboiled eggs & some mayo, you can make egg salad too with bread from home. Or have it for brk instead of oatmeal. (We would have to bring some minced onions and celery or grn olives in our mayo!)

  9. I take my Instant Pot, too. We had a noodle, chicken, and broccoli dish. For us, the hotel we stay at on the way to the in-laws (and home again) is right across the street from a super Walmart, so I just popped over there for some frozen broccoli and brought the rest from home. But I could probably use fresh broccoli, too, and bring it with me.

  10. I’ve taken my rice cooker and ingredients for arroz con pollo (Puerto Rican style chicken and rice),
    cheeseburger mac (with pre-browned ground meat), or what we call Happy Baby Casserole, which
    is a one-pot lasagna (browned Italian sausage optional). My rice cooker will cook it all, even with frozen
    chicken. We don’t mind leftovers for breakfast, which may come in handy if the hotel doesn’t serve
    breakfast, or for me, it is over before I wake up. 🙂 If we have eaten all of the dinner food, it will cook
    rolled oats or spelt (soak & cook in the same pot); just pack the toppings and some paper bowls.

    1. Why wouldn’t you have made the meal ahead, frozen it and defrosted/heated it in the Instant Pot? I do that when travelling. I vacuum seal my meals and they can be heated in the pouch in hot water. You could just boil a jug and put it in the bathroom sink with the plug in, and pop the food pouch in there to heat. No mess and you can use the hot water to do your dishes.

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