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Rental apartments & cooking

We rent apartments in major cities for anywhere from 3 nights to a week when we do a extended city hopping trip. Cheaper than staying in a hotel and buying all our meals out, well, at least for us. One of the foundations for staying healthy is eating healthy. I fix breakfast and usually dinner in using fresh local produce, fish etc. Buying seasonings in the grocery store is pricy and wasteful (how much Italian seasoning do you really need?) My solution is to take one of those plastic 7-day prescription dispensers (you know, Mon Tue Wed Thur etc.) and fill each section with say yes, Italian seasoning, Old Bay, capers in salt etc. Whatever you use regularly works. This way I can season my foods without buying a whole jar of tarragon as an example. Works as a great supplement to whatever herbs are fresh and in season locally. I also pack two empty Naigene bottles (used by backpackers etc.) Once we do our first trip to the market upon arrival I'll buy olive oil and some vinegar. When we're ready to move on to the next city I decant the oil and vinegar in the Naigene bottles. Leak proof and a two cup bottle lasts the whole trip.

Posted by
5 posts

I'd love to see more ideas for quick meal preparation in rental apartments, aparthotels, or B&Bs/hostels, etc. with kitchenettes. What have people found for supermarket take-out in Europe? Or meals to be reheated?

Posted by
767 posts

We love to do an antipasti platter-fresh bread, cheeses, meats, olives, some fruit. All of those items are easily obtainable from a outdoor market or grocery store. And I could eat that every day!!

Posted by
6542 posts

Marie: You could also carry spices in Tic Tac boxes with labels taped on them.
We too also prefer to stay in apartments with cooking facilities as we seldom get a kick out of eating out. And as a diabetic, I can eat healthier.

Otherwise, we eat heavy at breakfast (when free), snack for lunch and eat a early dinners.

When traveling in Italy, my wife and I eat far less food than their multi course feasts.

Posted by
359 posts

Hi Marie,
My husband and I prefer to rent apts./condos when we travel. Most of our travels are in Mexico but have also done 2-6 weeks in apts. in Italy. As the above poster states, Antipasti platters are easy , delicious meals to create. Bringing small amounts of seasonings and dried herbs makes cooking tastier too. We often buy roasted whole chickens, a bag of salads greens, fresh breads/rolls etc and feast for at least two meals. Hard boiled eggs are handy to keep in the fridge. We find that pasta dishes are easy and quick to make i.e. Carbonara, Puttanesca, Vongole etc. Bakeries have awesome local treats for breakfast and desserts. Seasonal fruits make great snack and breakfast salads. Rosticcerias and delis sell ready made foods to go and you can eat them on the fly or take them to your room/apt. to enjoy at mealtime. Research what the local and seasonal specialties are to experience the flavours of the region that you're visiting. We find that shopping in the local markets puts us in closer contact with the locals, saves us money and makes us feel part of the neighbourhood.

Posted by
403 posts

We've rented apartments a couple of times and have a lot of fun planning some of our meals. We've never bothered bringing spices, but will often bring a good knife - they're often not sharp/good enough, cutting board, wine opener, egg cups - we like boiled eggs in the morning. We've found that many stores sell deli type meals, so it's very easy to put together an evening meal. We've found it quite easy to find smaller quantities of olive oil, jam, etc, so it's been no hardship to cobble together what you might need. Breakfast's are easy to buy for, we often have "picnics" for lunch - you never know where you'll be when you're hungry and there's not always a handy restaurant - especially if you're outside of a bigger center.

Posted by
2081 posts

Marie,

I think that renting an apartment is a great way to save $$$.

but for me, cooking would be out of the picture since i would be grazing in the local restaurants/delis/bakeries/carts. I would rather eat the local cuisine which will probably be waaaaaay better than mine and different. after all im not traveling thousands of miles and spending $$$ just to eat the food i cook.

happy trails.

Posted by
28 posts

We eat in for breakfast (or if free in a hotel) then picnic at lunch with things we find in the market or street stalls. Depends on the country whether we cook dinner or eat out. Hubby wouldn't dream of not taking advantage of Italian restaurants! Ireland, on the other hand.......

Posted by
48 posts

I love these ideas with bringing seasoning its so true that they can cost so much traveling easier to just get olive oil. But what about the plane trip any issues with flying with these "seasonings"? No one mistakes them for anything else.......?

Posted by
767 posts

I think it is very unlikely seasonings could be mistaken for drugs. As soon as you open the bottle/bag, you can smell what it is. If you are really concerned, you could buy a new one and travel with it sealed.

Posted by
11613 posts

But Kristen, wouldn't it be easier to buy a new bottle/jar in country? I'm with Ray on cooking for myself, but if I traveled with children I can see how cooking at "home" would be a comforting routine.

Posted by
767 posts

I agree Zoe about buying seasonings upon arrival! Maybe I misunderstood the conversation but I thought someone had suggested bringing their own. I was just trying to reassure the previous poster that I didn't think they would be mistaken for drugs.

Posted by
48 posts

Thanx ladies I'm gonna bring new stuff just because I don't need the drama! But really, in the states you can buy seasonings for $1!!! While in Paris two years ago was trying to buy dried seasonings in the market first where hard to find and ended up costing €28!!!! For all I needed. Crazy!!! So glad someone suggested it!!

Posted by
6749 posts

See if you can get it out of bulk bins so you only take what you need and in flat little baggies.

Posted by
11411 posts

ha ha.. like they wouldn't know oregano from pot.. have any of you smelt pot????? lol

We bring spices cause it is a shocking waste to pay 20 -30 euros for 4 or 5 jars of spices and then basically we waste at least half the jar cause we ditch any unused stuff on way home to have room in bags. We did save some money by having wine and cheese /pate / bread in apartment in Paris.. but we also wasted a bit. bought a dozen eggs..but only cooked them once.. bought a litre of milk for tea.. wasted most.. bought butter by the pound, etc.. we ended up giving it to neighbor downstairs though. I liked making coffee and tea in.. but after making one breakfast with eggs etc decided it was nicer going out.. just our preference. And how can you not want to eat the local stuff..cooked by locals!. I do however have a friend who is Celiac so cooking in for them is much safer and easier then always having to ask about food in restaurants.

We like to snack in apartment but we love to eat out.. and I love not being responsible for cooking .. I cook at home.. on holidays no thanks.. so appy trays yes.. but not full blown cooking for us anymore. It is nice to have some snacks around ..

Posted by
1057 posts

I always rent apartments in Europe; mainly to have a washing machine, a terrace or balcony, and wifi!
The idea about bringing spices in a pill container is great!
I'll do that next time.
I always bring my own teabags with me as I like a cup of tea late evening.
We love shopping in the local stores and markets too.
Most big-ish towns have a 99-Cent store, so you can buy bits and pieces for your rental kitchen if things are lacking; like chopping boards, dish-towels,scouring pads,even a pot or two; etc.

Posted by
694 posts

Great ideas on the spices & cooking seasonings. We will be in London for a week & Paris for another week, renting apartments in both places. I was planning on taking some basic spices in very small containers so I didn't have to purchase regular size containers of them. I'm sure we will be eating lots of meals out but in case we wanted to make something 'in', we certainly could. Thanks!

Posted by
11613 posts

I've never tried it, but why not bring leftover spices back home? Or are they not allowed?

Posted by
744 posts

I have rented apartments 3 times in France. Since I love the open air markets, I buy fresh cheese, fruit and veggies, whatever is fresh. I do not like to "cook" when on holiday, but I had Marvellous meals with no real cooking. Many times I had an appetizer type of dinner with cheese, fresh olives, veggies, sausage, dried fruits and fresh fruit, a heavenly meal imho! And of course, some inexpensive wine makes it all taste better.

In France, the markets have fantastic rotisserie chicken, where the fat drips on potatoes! Wow, do not think about the calories, they are so fantastic. I purchased a half chicken, just warmed up the potatoes and have chicken left over to put on the next day's salad.

When touristing, I did usually have lunch out, all breakfasts in and some dinners out. I often did have a mid-morning coffee at a cafe, as I love the cafe atmosphere.

Also, I fly to Europe from Edmonton, Alberta, so I usually depart around noon and have to change planes in Montreal or Toronto. I always pack a lunch, a sandwich in a cheap dollar store plastic container, some fruit and veggies, some dried fruits and some protein type bars. I am a Celiac, so I always make sure that I have some backup food on travel days. Airport meals are expensive and often unhealthy, at least I start the holiday with healthy food in my belly.

If I do buy dried herbs for the kitchen, I do take them home with me, they are great reminders of the holiday

Have a great trip and enjoy the local markets.

Posted by
449 posts

Food allergies and Coeliac makes life a bit complicated.

Hubby has them all, so apartment rentals are important. Would love to eat out and not cook, and tried that several times, but sick hubby from cross contamination is NO FUN!

There are ways to make cooking easier, and still enjoy local fare.

I take my own home grown, dehydrated and ground with sea salt "herb salt." And I never worry about my herbs being mistaken for drugs..seriously?

Even Miralax doesn't scare me to take in ziplocs because who the heck is going to think I'm smuggling cocaine? Relax folks. Italian seasoning cannot be mixed up for illegal drugs.

Apartments are wonderful...more space, washing facilities most of the time, WiFi, comfort of being able to make coffee or tea whenever. Market shopping or grocery shopping is definitely a major cultural experience.

I've started taking coconut oil in small container. Works a treat, and no worrying about leaking. We do buy lovely butter! But I don't eat fried foods in America so not going to need a lot of oil there.