We are entering our 8th year of competition dance. Although I’ve touched on a lot of the costs over the years, one of the costs that we don’t often discuss is the cost of being at the conventions when you stay in a hotel. Beyond the obvious hotel charges, the second biggest cost is food.

For this very reason, I’ve started Meal Planning for In-Town Dance Conventions.

Because the schedules often run late into the night and start early in the morning, we often stay at a hotel — even when the convention is in town. (Houston is big, ya’ll! We could easily be 45-60 minutes from the hotel when we stay at home.)

We could eat sandwiches all weekend to save money, but that just doesn’t get it for me. We need some nutrition, some fun food, some cold food and some hot meals. A little variety, you might say. These dancers are working hard and a turkey sandwich and chips – time after time – does not cut it!

On a Friday to Sunday convention, we need (2) Breakfasts, (2) Lunches, (2) Dinners, (4) Snacks, Water, and Gatorade.
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Breakfast options –
We need to be headed to the convention hall early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Typically the evening prior has been a late one, so I try to let Piper sleep until the LAST possible minute. That means that breakfast needs to be filling and quick.

These are our favorites:

  • Yogurt with strawberries/blueberries & granola
  • Instant Oatmeal – use the in-room coffee pot to heat the water
  • Waffles – pre-mix the batter at home & keep overnight in the cooler. A waffle maker is very small & cooks quickly!
  • Bananas
  • Hardboiled Eggs

Shredded chicken cooked at home prior to the weekend is a great staple

Lunch options –
Lunch times vary from convention to convention, but you can bet that you’ll usually get at least 30 minutes. I try to make these meals compact and easy to pack in a lunch kit. Lots of options are always included and I put in some things to share!

Our most common are:

  • Salad with shredded chicken – a huge portion! Add in blueberries, strawberries, shaved almonds, cheese!
  • Pasta salad with shredded chicken or tuna and feta cheese
  • Broccoli, celery, snap peas with hummus (or ranch)
  • Apples (I buy the bagged apples that are already cut) with a side of peanut butter
  • Soup – most hotels have a microwave that they will let you use. I heat a container & pour into a thermos

Dinner options –
Dinner has always been tricky. I really don’t want to feed cold food the entire weekend. There truly is something about a “hot meal” that just makes it feel like you’ve really eaten. I had a stroke of genius: a small Crockpot! I tried it out this weekend … and it worked like a charm. I took a bag of Bertolli Frozen Chicken Parmesan and cooked it all day – it was perfect! Although this meal is meant to cook in a skillet, cooking it all day in the crockpot did the trick just the same.

I used a 2.5 quart Crockpot and the frozen meal fed 2 teen girls! The crockpot was $10 and the meal was $10. I could not have fed these girls in the hotel restaurant for $20. No way. Next time, I’m going to make a roast with a small piece of beef, Lipton Onion Soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, and baby carrots. I can heat rice in a microwave and have a nice meal!

I try to have a lot on hand. Look folks, I’m no nutritionist (maybe should’ve said that upfront), so I’m going to throw a handful of SourPatch kids in for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Far beyond the candy, I recommend:

  • Popcorn
  • Fruit
  • Goldfish
  • Nutella & breadsticks
  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Lemon bread or blueberry bread

I’ll also add that I use disposable containers (I like these for entrees and these for dips/dressings) on these weekends. Trying to wash dishes in the hotel bathroom is for the birds, so I’ve linked some of the containers that I love. When a meal or snack is finished, we simply throw everything away!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a post on how we save money on food when we travel for dance! It’s nice to pack a cooler, throw it in the car and head to the hotel, but many of these things don’t work when we have to take a flight – so be sure to check back for that post!

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